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Politicians, Narcissism and Cheating — Oh, My!

There's been no shortage of politicians in the news who cheated on their wives (Sanford, Spitzer, Clinton — we're talking about you), and the television show The Good Wife is even dramatizing this all-too-familiar story. Most social scientists and psychologists are not surprised; many of the traits that are required for political leadership are prevalent in narcissism: ambition, risk-taking, and charisma. You don't need to be a narcissist to be a political leader, but it doesn't hurt.

So what is narcissism exactly? We all have self-love on some level, but in the '80s, the American Psychiatric Association argued that it can become pathological enough to be considered a personality disorder. They claimed that one percent of the population has NPD (narcissistic personality disorder); it's since been revised by The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which said that 6.2 percent of the population has NPD. To find out about NPD,

According to the DSM-IV, here are the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

"A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love (megalomania)
3. Believes they are 'special' and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also 'special' or of high status
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy
8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes"

Most of us will never date or marry a narcissistic politician, but some of us will have the misfortune to date narcissists, who have a tendency to cheat. "Infidelity," says Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at City University of New York and who writes about psychology and political behavior, "is a byproduct of narcissism."

Do you know any narcissists or have you ever dated one?


amofoz amofoz 8 years
So this is what Paris Hilton's disorder is called?
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Yes, I've dated one. It was for a short-lived time, like about two to three months, and it was the worst dating experience. Also, I think there are narcissists in my family. Unfortunately, unlike the man I dated, it's difficult to remove them from my life, as they're family. I see similarities between these family members and Blagojevich. :)
hlj504 hlj504 8 years
Oh yeah....I was married to one! "Was" being the operative word here... :)
Briandiesel Briandiesel 8 years
HAHA! My friend has that painting above his bed. lol
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
Yes, I have a friend who's husband was dx with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My oldest was borderline years ago as a child, but never actually dx with it. And she's different now than she used to be so I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have as many characteristics of NPD if she were to be tested again.
merie33 merie33 8 years
I never did, but my sister did. He was screwed up. And he messed her up quite a bit for awhile.
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