The Situation of Narcissism in Politics
Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 3, 2009
Sharon Jayson of USA Today has an interesting piece on why many politicians seem narcissistic. We excerpt the piece below.
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“Politicians are different,” says Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who’s writing a book about narcissistic men. “How many of us would have the desire, much less the ability, to promote ourselves ceaselessly? You have to do that as a politician. It’s an amazing level of self-love … and a need for affirmation.”
Most recently in the news was Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, whose extramarital romance with a woman in Argentina spurred investigations into his spending habits. And remember Eliot Spitzer? He was forced to resign as governor of New York last year; his extramarital dalliance involved a prostitution ring. James McGreevey, former governor of New Jersey, resigned in 2004 after revealing his adultery with a male aide.
“Ambition and narcissism are occupational hazards for all political leaders,” says Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at City University of New York and author of books dealing with psychological issues and political behavior. “Infidelity is a byproduct of narcissism.”
By definition, narcissism is “excessive self-love” and stems from a mythical youth who fell in love with his own reflection. In recent years, it’s become a buzzword with myriad other meanings — from egotism to selfishness to hubris. Traits associated with narcissism aren’t all negative: self-confidence, leadership ability and power. Many say those drawn to politics are risk-takers anyway.
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To read the rest, click here. For a related Situationist series, see Jon Hanson and Michael McCann’s David Vitter, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Jon Ensign, and Now Mark Sanford: The Disposition Is Weaker than the Situation.