Daily Herald: Psychologists — Blagojevich trial reveals narcissism

Narcissists in politics? No kidding. The Daily Herald article with the above headline included this:

[T]wo prominent Chicago psychologists said Blagojevich displays symptoms of a condition officially known as narcissistic personality disorder [NPD].

Dr. Daniela Schreier, a forensic psychologist at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, said it’s impossible to make a clinical diagnosis without a personal evaluation, which she has not done. But, she said, Blagojevich definitely has traits of the condition…

“He’s very glib and superficial,” she said. “He’s very self-confident, maybe overly self-confident. He’s dramatic and erratic. He has an inability to acknowledge, ‘I messed up.'”

Blagojevich is hardly alone in those traits. U.S. political culture values many of those characteristics, Schreier said, blaming them as part of the reason we often wind up with political scandals…

Scott Ambers, a Chicago psychologist, said Blagojevich appears to “hit the jackpot” in meeting the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder…

“One hallmark of a narcissistic personality is they’re motivated almost exclusively by self-interest,” he said. “So if you’re gong to have someone in public office whose motivations are predominantly, ‘What’s in it for me?’ in the long run they’re not going to serve the citizens very well.”

Readers of this column had the opportunity to read about NPD back in January, but my focus wasn’t the scapegoat that is Rod Blagojevich. My target was the type of people who are drawn to Republican politics like metal filings to a magnet in hopes of experiencing that strange mental rush that comes with self-importance.

They are in love with their self confidence. Too bad that self confidence rarely translates into real political accomplishment.

It’s prevalent among politicians. Why don’t voters ever hear about how candidates are actually going to do what they promised once elected? Because most of them don’t have the first clue — they just want to get elected.

Why do we rarely hear anything about reforming the GOP from our elected Republican leaders? Because once they’re elected, they don’t seem to care all that much about the party structure — the very vehicle that should be recruiting talent, building a movement, and helping them get something done while in office.

It’s also common among activists. I noted this in January:

Many have almost a superhuman ability to block out the reality of how little impact they’re actually having. Shakespeare’s line about “being bounded in a nutshell and counting [oneself] king of infinite space” comes to mind.

However, the vast majority of the voting public never gets the word delivered to them effectively. Who are these people on the ballot – really. What have they accomplished? What do they want to accomplish, why, and how will they do so?

To be honest, the entire Blago trial is a distraction from the rot that still exists throughout the entire Illinois political culture — and don’t kid yourself – that rot is not only in the “D” column. Rod B. might be a nut job, but to pretend he’s our only problem in Illinois is to ignore what’s all around us.

©2010 John Francis Biver