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.