Narcissism

By

Leonard Zwelling

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/18/the-narcissist-next-door/

         For a while now, I have been concerned about the high
prevalence of narcissism I perceive populates the corner offices of America,
including those in American medicine.

         In this article in the NY
Times
on July 19, Jane Brody lists as good a definition of the narcissist problem as
I have ever seen:

1. Competitive and believing he or she possesses special
abilities making him or her a winner and others losers.

2. Grandiose sense of self with entitled behaviors

3. Shames and humiliates others

4. Arrogant and vain. A bully

5. Lies for personal gain

Hmmm….

This
is troubling as it appears as though both nominees for the Presidency qualify.

What
is really concerning is how hard it is to treat these people, and make no
mistake, this is a disease. These folks naturally ascend to power and tend to
surround themselves with people who won’t stand up to them. How else can you
explain Hillary’s use of her own email server and Melania Trump’s speech being
inadequately vetted and thus containing plagiarized language. As the BW
suggested, Trump’s people were so arrogant they thought no one would notice
that the GOP candidate for First Lady lifted whole sentences from a speech
given by the current holder of that unelected office.

The
article above goes into great detail trying to explain this aberrant behavior,
that though off the rails, seems to be working for so many CEOs. Frankly, I
don’t care why people cannot feel the pain of others or subjugate their own
needs when those of others are greater or respect another human being who may
not have ascended to the same corner office that they have. This is a personality
disorder that is not amenable to drug therapy. Only insight (talk therapy) will relieve the
sufferer of the notion that his sh-t doesn’t stink and that others might just
have better ideas than he or she does, because his odorless excrement is that
in which he or she is standing as my mentor Stephen Levine would say.

What
is amazing to me is how common this seems to be in academia. I guess all the
little geniuses who were told how smart they were as children mistakenly
believed it and still can’t quite grasp why the world does not owe them
respect, power and money, let alone tenure.

This
is most unfortunate for the rest of us, but seeing that both candidates for the
Presidency seem to be operating under the guise of narcissism is most
troubling. I just don’t see how either one of them will stay out of trouble if
elected as they are rash, uncaring, unlistening, and arrogantly privileged.

And
then consider the First Spouses.

Your
choice is either a fashion model who posed nude on the cover of GQ or a serial misogynist who somehow
has convinced his wife to stick with him despite his many peccadilloes.

So
to recap, here’s the American choice:

In
this corner we have the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who
for some reason didn’t believe that as Secretary of State she would receive top
secret communiqués and thus felt comfortable having her own server with the
security that even Google mail would consider lax. She brings with her a
husband who was once President, but now appears to be a shadow of his former
self in body and mind.

In
the other corner is an egomaniacal business tycoon (we think, no tax returns
yet), who is clearly infatuated with himself, thinks he can run a nationwide
campaign on his own, and seeks foreign policy advice from his fashion model wife
because she was born outside the country. His major consultants harbor his DNA (his
kids) whether or not they harbor any brains for politics remains to be seen.
Judging from the speech from the maybe First Lady, there is work to be done in the Trump
household.

Just
say for me that is no choice at all.

It
turns out on Election Day, I am likely to be out of the country. Unfortunately, I am not going to a place I could safely stay (Hint: It’s in Europe) and I wouldn’t anyway. I love America and always
will. I know we will survive this because we were able to survive Vietnam and
Watergate and that was just in my lifetime. The Civil War was worse and we survived it.

The
narcissists are at play in the fields of power. They always are. Our job is to
do whatever we can to keep them in check. And that’s also what Congress and a
fully reconstituted Supreme Court must do as well.

I know, I know–good luck with that!

Leonard Zwelling