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Is Barack Obama Suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

April 16th, 2010

Months ago, my friend Brad noticed that whenever Obama gives an address he speaks in a condescending manner. His body language is that of someone who is looking down on the audience, and his verbal language accommodates this. Brad noted that he makes frequent use of the command, “Look:” which just isn’t how mature adults converse with, or address one another. Sure, it’s a weird personality trait to behave like that, but I’ve grown to expect a certain level of disdain from the political class toward the rest of us.

Then, a few days ago I read an op-ed which suggests Obama is beginning to display signs of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote it off as partisan ass-hattery because a few cherry-picked examples, spun in the worst possible light in the context of an op-ed that cites “Newt Gingrich” as an authoritative source probably isn’t the best way to evaluate someone’s mental health.

But the more I think about it, the more merit it seems to have. For example, it lists a number of specific cases and explains how the bizarre behavior might be signs of a personality disorder:

In March of last year Obama was on “60 Minutes” with Steve Kroft. Throughout the interview as Kroft questioned about the economic downturn and people losing their life savings, Obama just kept laughing. A one point CBS’s Kroft stopped him and asked, “Are you punch drunk?” How will the American people react to seeing their president laugh off their predicament? Obama’s inappropriate laughter clearly demonstrated he has lost touch with the pain that people are feeling.

An author on the subject, Sam Vaknin also suggests that

[A] narcissist always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a narcissist is by trying to delve deeper. The narcissist is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean.

This is interesting, because Obama doesn’t fare well under close scrutiny. Some of the most grandiose claims on his resume may be false: Obama was never a “Professor of Law” at University of Chicago—he was an ‘instructor’ or adjunct, below the level of an Associate Professor. He also has the dubious honor to have been the only “Editor” of the Harvard Law Review to never have been published while in school, which kind of suggests the position was an “honorary” one, without any merit whatsoever.

Then I read this morning that Obama had the audacity to jest that the Tea Party protesters should be thankful that he has “cut taxes”. The Dallas News reports:

[Obama is] amused by the Tea Party tax protests that took place around Tax Day and that contrary to claims of demonstrators, he has cut taxes.

“You would think they’d be saying thank you…” he said at a fundraiser in Miami.

Does he mean the tax “cut” that wasn’t really a “cut”? Whereby they temporarily reduced the amount of withohlding from our paychecks, but did not make any downward adjustment to the schedules determining what we would be liable to owe at the end of the year? For many people accustomed to receiving “refunds” (I use this term loosely, since it’s not really a “refund”) they’re discovering for the very first time what it’s like to “owe” taxes at the end of the year. Hopefully they’re pissed off about it, too.

Even if you take his word for it, the average American got something like $8/month, at the very same time that banks were receiving a Trillion dollars worth of corporate welfare…

Even though he was speaking to supporters, at a fundraiser, I think this is flagrant statement; it’s not like the rest of us were never going to hear about it. But that sort of arrogant, cavalier attitude is one hallmark of a person suffering from NPD.

Now, don’t get all butthurt over this. I’m not a doctor, and even with all of the powers of Google at my command, I’m not qualified to evaluate anyone’s mental health. But according to Teh Wikipedia list of characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Obama exhibits all of them:

  • Is inter-personally 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 that others are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Check, check, check and check. Sooner or later all this stuff starts to add up, and the probability of it all being a series of extraordinary coincidences drops to zero.

Then again, these traits are strong in anyone who is successful in politics. I mean, the first two especially, basically define how politics works, and what politicians do. Kip, Esquire used to say that “all politicians, by definition, are moral defectives.” Perhaps severe narcissistic personality disorder is that defect.

It’s one explanation.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics