The problem with a personality disorder in the White House

Very early on in the Obama’s trajectory to the presidency, I identified him as a narcissist, and warned against the disastrous results that ensue from placing power in a narcissist’s hands.  (I was not the only one to do so, incidentally.)

While some may debate the diagnosis I gave our president, there is now some authority saying that narcissists are lousy leaders:

They may be charming, confident and climb the job ladder with ease, but when they reach the top, narcissists are actually not very good at their roles.

Such people are often too self-obsessed to do their jobs properly, according to a study.


[S]cientists have discovered that while narcissists are convincing leaders, they are so consumed by their own brilliance that it actually cripples their creativity and often causes them to make bad decisions.

They like to squirrel away information from their colleagues and are too focused on themselves to allow others to shine in the workplace, researchers said.

It also prevents proper interaction with colleagues who often vastly overestimate the ability of their overconfident bosses.


Leaders with the largest egos had the most negative effect on their group’s overall performance.

They were too self-centred and authoritarian to communicate properly or listen to their colleagues.

I’m thinking of applying for a legal name change.  Henceforth, just call me Cassandra.

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  • Charles Martel

    Book, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here. Are you saying that a man who is as exceptional, brilliant and transformational like Barack Obama has to be held to some tedious conventional mold of managerial conduct?

    Why do they call it “squirreling away information” when it is obvious that no other person in the room would be as smart as Obama in knowing what to do with it?

    Why say somebody can be obsessed by his own brilliance to the point of crippling his creativity? I think any theologian worth his salt would tell you that God, the Creator, is quite aware of His own brilliance. Are we seeing a letdown in the quality of nature’s productions simply because God knows His own talents? I don’t think so!

    I could go on and on, but my teleprompter just broke.

  • Libby

    Not to worry – the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013, and known as DSM-5) has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders, including the Narcissitic Personality Disorder (
    So, he’ll be effectively cured. Here’s hoping that by 2013 we’ll aslo be cured via the innaguration of a new president.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Obama is so brilliant that they hid his academic performance records lest too many other lesser folk be intimidated into dropping out of college. Plus, there was that perfect pant crease thingy that he had.

  • Libby

    Does this mean that all of those who were so blinded by their admiration for Obama, such Evan Thomas (who called him a sort-of god) and David Brooks, had a case of Narcissm by Proxy?
    It’s bad enough that Obama has such an inflated sense of his own abilities, but how do you explain all of those who keep excusing his failures, claiming it’s just that he’s so darn brilliant that it’s the fault of everyone else who failed to grasp what he was trying to do?

  • Gringo

    Re the Cassandra link:
    That was the first ABBA  video where I have seen the lyrics captioned. Not coincidentally, it was perhaps the first ABBA song that had lyrics one had to pay attention to- not simple, repeated lyrics.   As this video was made towards the end of ABBA, I wonder if this song was symptomatic of the breakup. Was there someone in ABBA who wanted to pursue more “profound,” more arty songs, whereas another wanted to keep doing the pop candy they so ably produced?
    Most likely not, as from what I read, they split because they were tired of the grind. Perhaps the song was written in the following mood: “Since we are breaking up anyway, there is no need to craft lyrics with regard to getting  another million seller.” 
    There was a Cassandra in the blogosphere, but she has been inactive for nearly a year.
  Cassandra @ Villainous Company

  • Ymarsakar

    Narcissists are basically beta males who have fooled people into thinking they are Alphas.


  • Ymarsakar

    Btw, we don’t need no stinking authority to tell us what is what. That’s what we got something called a brain for.


    The doctor wrote about the very topic (changes the DSM). If you have the time and patience you can look for it. He writes less frequently lately, but always chock full of insights and commentary.

  • Libby

    Thanks for the link! The APA has become the target of activists that want to remove disorders from the DSM based on desire for cultural acceptance of certain behaviors (e.g. homosexuality) or by pharmaceutical companies that want add disorders so that their drugs will be prescribed & covered by insurance companies based on their link to a recognized disorder. It probably doesn’t help that there’s no drug to cure narcissism.
    This elimination of Narcissitic Personality Disorder reminds me of how the government redefined the BMI that identified a person as obese in 1998, effectively making 30 million people become obese overnight. My head spins every time someone quotes the recent government study that declared that 1 in 3 children is obese. I have to figure that somewhere in some far away or hidden place they are hiding all of these fatties, because I certainly don’t see a childhood obesity rate of this magnitude at the local elementary schools, kid hang-outs (like the Zoo),etc.

  • Bookworm

    Ymarsakar (#6) said “Narcissists are basically beta males who have fooled people into thinking they are Alphas.”  As pithy a summation of the narcissist psyche as I’ve ever soon.  Very good indeed.

  • David Foster

    People in organizations are sometimes classified into “staff” and “line” positions, the difference being that the line person actually runs something and is accountable for its results, whereas the staff person–while he may do very important work analyzing and advising–doesn’t actually have decision authority and accountability.

    Traditionally, it has been understood that a person should be tested in line positions of lower level before being promoted to line positions of very high level after having held only staff assignments. I think it’s clear that a narcissist has a better chance of covering up his weaknesses in a staff position where he can dazzle with faux brilliance than in a line position, where sooner or later tha lost sales, the missed production targets, or the logistical snarl-ups will become obvious to all.

    This tradition seems to have weakened in recent years, largely probably as a consequence of credentialism–too often, the implicit assumption is that you can take a person with a sufficiently impressive degree, put him in staff assignments for several years (possibly with a very short and easy-to-succeed-at line assignment thrown in for the sake of form) and then put him in a very large, very important, and very complex line job.

    Barack Obama, of course, is the leading example of this phenomenon, but he’s far from the only one. 

  • Ymarsakar

    America is getting too decadent. Thus you’ll see an emphasis on superficiality and form over substance. Style over functionality. Fashion over sense. Parasitism vs wealth generation. Cowardice vs risk taking and personal responsibility.


  • Ymarsakar

    Martel, are you denying that Obama is the smartest child in the room here?

  • Mike Devx

    This seems appropriate to the thread, in the manner of dysfunctional (narcissistic) leaders screwing it up in ways that can even be dangerous.

    A commenter on a Pajama’s Media article on the Sony Obama movie said the following (cut and paste):


    I can see that there are still quite a few comments to read before this reply from me will even find its way to the queue. But I am so gratified to read your statement made in such a no nonsense fashion that I felt compelled to thank you for doing so immediately.
    I have not seen many voicing this obvious understanding which needs to become part of the public discussion. I and other veterans with even a little training in such matters understand precisely what you have already posited so well. And that is the fact that clandestine operations are engaged in by those who know that they will rarely if ever receive any public accolades at all. Any medals, commendations, etc that may be involved are presented in secret without the honoree even taking home these commendations in most cases.
    The immediate flailing about in public of the administration as they rushed to pose as “heroes” made me sick, and the subsequent carefully planned ambush of the Seals in Afghanistan by the Taliban (who clearly had Pakistani intel to work with) was a obvious follow up to the grandstanding by this ignorant pack of fools in the White house. I pray to God that they will catch so much flack and steely eyed stare downs from every military person they do business with from now on, that it will even make it through to their cordoned off consciousness.
    Thank you again for making the point. I do truly hope that this becomes a subject for a wider discussion because there is just no way that mission would have been taken out so easily had the administration followed the time tested protocols for handling clandestine intelligence.


  • Mike Devx

    Ymar, you’re on a roll!  Especially #12, for me.

  • Ymarsakar

    Banzai, Devx!

  • Ymarsakar

    Book, I think you called him a narcissist and then a sociopath, all together in one.

  • Ymarsakar

    Btw, I assume Obama or Biden or Democrat stupidity leaked enough information that resulted in the future ambush of the SEAL team.


  • Charles Martel

    A narcissist and a sociopath all in one? Hmmm. . . .

    That would be a narcopath or a socialist, no? Either way, not a good thing to be.