Narcissistic and Psychopathic Politicians and Leaders

Uploaded 8/8/2010, approx. 6 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

The narcissistic or psychopathic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in Sikh narcissistic and psychopathic societies.

The leader's mental health pathologies resonate with the enemies of his society and culture, and I call it the psychopathological resonance between leadership and people.

The leader and the laddie form a kind of self-enhancing and self-reinforcing feedback loop, a diode of mirrored admiration, of reflected love.

By elevating and idealizing their fear, their leader, the mob actually elevates and idealizes itself.

In his ascendance, his followers find hope. In his manifest illness, they find curative solace and a legitimation of their own collective insanity.

The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious self for the world to fear or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with, and this lack of reality test is further exacerbated by the trappings of power in the case of the narcissistic leader.

The narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported when the narcissist attains real-life authority, and the narcissist's predilection to surround himself with obsequious psychophones with yes-men only makes matters worse.

The narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism or disagreement.

Most narcissists are also paranoid, and they suffer from ideas of reference. In other words, they believe that they are being mocked or discussed even when they are not.

Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as victims of persecution, a martyr for the cause.

The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion. So, there is a priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, and a personal mythology of the leader.

The leader is this religion's saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures, or at least so he claims, in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling and to his people.

Many narcissistic and psychopathic leaders become hostages to their self-imposed rigid ideologies. They fancy themselves Platonic philosophy kings.

Since they lack empathy, they regard their subjects as a manufacturer with regard to raw material. As far as they are concerned, their followers and even the nation, these are collateral damage in a vast historical process.

You can hear narcissistic or psychopathic leaders often say, when one makes an omelet, one has to break eggs, or when one chips at wood, splinters fly, and so on.

Narcissistic leadership is not about life or substance. It's about theater. To enjoy the spectacle and be subsumed by it, the cultish leader demands the suspension of judgment and the attainment of depersonalization and derealization.

As far as this in this political process is tantamount in this narcissistic dramaturgy to self-annulment.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against something, against the old ways, against the egomonic culture, against the upper classes, against the established religions, against the superpowers, against the corrupt order.

It always defines himself by opposition. Narcissistic movements are pure, right?

Adolescent. They are a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic group or collective.

In this vortex of hatred and exclusion, minorities or others, often arbitrarily selected, constitute a perfect, easily identifiable embodiment of all that is wrong and evil. They are kind of a foil. They are the perfect hate figure.

Narcissists, narcissistic leaders, thrive on hatred and pathological envy, enchanter it, indirect it.

The narcissistic leader prefers a sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments.

The narcissistic leader's reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substance, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions.

And in the aftermath of his regime, the narcissistic leader having died or been deposed or voted out of office, which is rare, it all unravels.

The tireless and constant prestidigitation seizes and the entire edifice, built by the narcissist, crumbles.

What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. Earth-shattering and revolutionary scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem. As their end grows near, narcissistic psychopathic leaders act out, lash out, erupt. They attack with equal ferocity and virulence, compatriots, erstwhile allies, neighbors, foreigners.

All populist charismatic leaders believe that they have a special connection with the people, a relationship that is direct, almost mystical and transcends the normal channels of communication, such as the legislature or the media.

Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against a corrupt elite, is highly unlikely to use violence at first.

But the pacific mosque of the narcissistic leader crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots funds, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply have turned against him.

At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissistic leader strives to explain away the sudden reversal of popular sentiment.

Such leaders say the people are being duped by the media, by big industry, by the military, by the elite, by foreign powers. Or they say the folk, the mob, don't really know what they're doing. Or they will have a rude awakening. They will revert to form and see how indispensable I am.

So they deny the shift in popular sentiment against them.

But when these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression.

The pent up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized is now discarded with contempt and even hatred.

A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to assassinate him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, become the nation or the country, etc.

The small people, the rank and file, the loyal soldiers of the narcissistic leader, his flock, his nation, his employees, they pay the price.

The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction of rising from the ashes or overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated, gets a drawn out process.

It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist.

And this is his sole legacy. A massive, collective, post-traumatic stress dishore.

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