Can I say that an entire political ideology is narcissistic? Because I’d really like to say that about Leftism, a political movement that sometimes seems like the textbook definition of narcissism. Although the DSM is a highly political book, it’s still the starting point for any diagnosis of narcissism:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines narcissistic personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:
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:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Doesn’t the above list make you think of behavior patterns on the Left? Here, let me walk you through it:
“Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).” Think of the Left’s Obama hagiography. He was the embodiment of all that was Left. Despite the lack of any proof, such as grades or real world accomplishments, we were assured that Obama was the most brilliant, successful, competent person ever to grace the Oval Office. Even now, as Obama’s initiatives inspire visceral dislike in the American people, who are not better of now than they were four years ago, Obama and his crew routinely chastise the American people for failing to recognize his greatness. We are routinely told that any failures occuring under the Left’s governance lie, not with the Left itself, but with the idiocy of the American people.
“Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.” See above. Also, check out Obama’s “ocean rising” speech, back in 2008, which speaks both to Obama’s own messiah fantasies and to the entire Leftist belief in its world-changing powers.
“Believes that he or she is ‘special’ and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).” Again, see above. Obama’s vacation is also emblematic of this particular facet of narcissistic personality disorder. If you’ve been following Obama’s most recent vacation, you’ll see that he has eschewed the prosaic Camp David or, God forbid, a working vacation such as those Bush enjoyed at his ranch. He stays in luxury, socializes only with the self-proclaimed (and wealthiest) elite, and generally distances himself from the hoi polloi. Michelle Antoinette shares his expensive tastes. Both justify their conduct on the ground that they deserve this treatment and can only be comfortable (i.e., relax and get away from it all) when surrounded by “the best.”
“Requires excessive admiration.” And again, you can look to the above for evidence of this requirement. Fundamentally, whether speaking of grandiosity, fantasies of success, a sense of uniqueness or the uncreasing demand for admiration, one can can see that they’re all slightly differently stated sides of the same coin. The Narcissist is his own God, and needs others constantly to remind him of the truth of this theology.
“Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.” Ditto.
“Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.” There is no better example of this than the way the Left uses minorities, especially blacks, to justify its big government fetish. This is true whether we’re talking about (a) Jim Crow busily trampling blacks civil rights (because Jim Crow was big government directed at explicitly racist ends) or about (b) the current welfare society that emasculates black men and generally infantilizes the entire black community by preventing its members from becoming independent adults.
“Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.” The best illustration I can think of this is the whole “civility” debate that’s sprung up recently. In the Leftist world, civility is entirely a one way street. Those who are not Leftists are not allowed to speak critically of the Left (or its individual members). However, on the Left, there is no such thing as incivility. There is only speaking the truth about the evil that is conservativism. This is why expressions such as “tea bagging” become common currency on the Left, and Maxine Waters vile and vulgar statements go unremarked.
“Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her.” The nature of Leftism is envy. It is a political doctrine based entirely on making sure that the other guy doesn’t have more than you have.
“Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.” — Barack Obama is Exhibit A. And Exhibit B. And Exhibit C, ad infinitum. However, if you think I’ve over-used Obama to make my point here, feel free to substitute Janeane Garofalo, or Keith Olbermann, or Ed Schultz, or most of Hollywood or [you fill in the blank].
The above is not to say that the conservative side of the spectrum doesn’t have its own pathologies. I’m just arguing that a pervasive narcissism characterizes the Left.
It might help here if I explained what triggered this whole line of thinking in the first place. I happen to know, pretty well, a couple of narcissists. I recently had an insight about them: narcissists are unable to distinguish between facts, opinions and morality. A narcissist’s opinions and understanding become the only standard, rendering inoperative such things as objective and subjective thought or debatable moral issues.
For example, while I, a non-narcissist, might say that, having sampled all the french fries in the region, I like McDonald’s fries best, a narcissist will say that McDonald’s fries are the best. The narcissist cannot contemplate the possibility that his preferences are not objective fact. This is why all discussions with narcissists quickly devolve into name calling — or, more accurately, end with the narcissist calling you names.
Since there is only one truth — the narcissist’s — you, by expressing contary opinions, are actually challenging his status as a God head As I said above, the narcissist is his own God, and needs others constantly to remind him of the truth of this theology. When you differ from the narcissist, you have shown yourself to be a heretic. Auto da fé being unavailable, ad hominem attacks are the only thing left in the narcissist’s arsenal.
So yes, I’ve convinced myself that the Left is, collectively, a political movement suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. What do you think?
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
UPDATE: I’m not the only one struck by Leftist delusions. My friend Garry is thinking along similar lines.