Since we have a president who is hell-bent on imposing his agenda on the American people, against the will of more than half of them, I think it is important to get a better understanding of the man.  Hopefully, knowing what ‘makes him tick’ will counter some of the shock and discouragement we face, as he continues to battle conservative Americans.

Although I am not trained in psychology or psychiatry, I am giving my opinion:

I am fully convinced that Barack Obama is a narcissist.

Hotchkiss [Hotchkiss, Sandy & Masterson, James F. Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)]  identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:

  1. Shamelessness – Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
  2. Magical thinking – Narcissists see themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
  3. Arrogance – A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
  4. Envy – A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
  5. Entitlement – Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves uniquely special. Any failure to comply will be considered an attack on their superiority and the perpetrator is considered to be an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
  6. Exploitation – can take many forms but always involves the using of others without regards for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
  7. Bad Boundaries – narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist will be treated as if they are part of the narcissist and be expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.

(from Wikipedia: ‘Narcissism’)

“Narcissism can be a considered a self-perceived form of perfectionism. Narcissists often are pseudo-perfectionists and require being the center of attention and create situations where they will receive attention.[6] This attempt at being perfect is cohesive with the grandiose self-image that the narcissist has of him-/herself. If a perceived state of perfection isn’t reached it can lead to guilt, shame, anger or anxiety because he/she believes that he/she will lose the imagined love and admiration from other people if he/she isn’t perfect.[7]”

(from Wikipedia: ‘Narcissistic Rage’)

I don’t think one has to look too deeply at Obama’s childhood to find possible reasons for a boy to feel intense shame: Biracial, absent father, dark skinned but raised by whites, etc..   I think a well-meaning person, who dearly loved this little boy, may have attempted to counter his shame by unwittingly training him to think as a narcissist thinks: overcompensating on building his self-esteem, and actively putting the blame on others.

But he is not alone.  He is just a forerunner of a generation of children with similar stories, raised in a similar way:  Absent fathers, self-absorbed or over-compensating mothers, educational philosophies that overcompensated in building kids’ self-esteem, etc.  Consequently, we have raised a generation  that will prove to have an inordinate number of narcissists and sociopaths, and with most of them having a profound sense of entitlement and an over-inflated sense of their own importance (think ‘divas’ and ‘goddesses’).   Being the forerunner of this generation, it is no wonder that Obama’s message resonated with them.

(Any anger you sense from me is directed towards those who deprived these kids of truth and the ability for honest self-examination.)


Anyhow . . . although I think all of the traits are there, ‘arrogance’ stands out (there was a lot of diminishing, debasing, and degrading of the opposition by Obama, during the healthcare bill fiasco, as his approval numbers kept dropping), as does ‘exploitation’ (as he seems oblivious to the feelings and interests of a large majority of Americans, who oppose the healthcare bill).

But most of all, ‘entitlement’ seems to take center stage:

“Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves uniquely special. Any failure to comply will be considered an attack on their superiority and the perpetrator is considered to be an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.”

Within minutes of passing the bill, lawsuits were filed to challenge it’s constitutionality.  Then, yesterday, a supreme court justice decided it would be a good time to retire.  Here is my conjecture:

  • I think Obama ‘had a little talk’ with the justice, convincing him that now would be a good time to go.
  • I think whoever Obama appoints is going to be intended as a punishment to his opponents.
  • And, although he looks unfazed, Obama is seething on the inside.

Filing a challenge to his healthcare bill displays defiance, rather than compliance, which he sees as an attack on his authority and superiority, and it may very well trigger narcissistic rage.  (I was pretty confident we’d be seeing it sooner or later–and I think there is a rough road ahead for conservatives, because I expect him to escalate his battle.)  I am curious as to whether his rage will be open and evident, or passive-aggressive.

Apparently there are different types of narcissism, I believe this one fits him very well:

Aggressive narcissism

  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning/manipulative
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallow affect
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.

(from Wikipedia: ‘Narcissism’)

Here is an explanation of ‘narcissistic rage’:

According to Kohut,[1] rages are a result of the shame at being faced with failure. Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury. Narcissistic injury is a threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing, revenge.

Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone.[5] To the narcissist, the rage is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them; to other people, the rage is incoherent and unjust. This rage impairs their cognition, therefore impairing their judgment. During the rage they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations. It is believed that narcissists have two layers of rage. The first layer of rage can be thought of as a constant anger (towards someone else), and the second layer being a self-aimed wrath. Two specific identified forms of narcissistic rage are explosive and passive-aggressive.

The explosive form being an obvious anger, for example, damaging property (or people) and being verbally abusive. The passive-aggressive sort might be sulking or giving their target the silent treatment. They can become enraged to the point of being homicidal especially if he/she has the need to seek revenge.[6] Narcissistic rage is usually short-term, but can provoke problems with those towards whom the anger is targeted.

(from Wikipedia: ‘Narcissistic Rage’)

We are all flawed.  It would be unreasonable to expect our leaders to be perfect.  But some flaws demand that we be especially watchful and vigilant.  If Obama is who I think he is, he could become a very dangerous man if he doesn’t get his way.  The next time we win a battle with him, consider that, and don’t cheer quite so loudly.

Update 7/12/10

another interesting post about ‘People of the Lie’

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