September 16, 2009
Many of us are asking ourselves the million dollar question: are Obama and his crew narcissists?
(Translation: What in God's name is wrong with these people? Are they on medications? Are they off their medications?
Are we being unknowingly subjected to some new reality show, Extreme Alien Invasion?)
Now as a newby conservative, I have a long way to go to herald myself as an expert on conservatism, neoconservatism, paleoconservatism (whatever that is), and the like.
But one thing I do know is crazy -- and that's not just because I've been a licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years. It's because for almost 30 years I've been eating, sleeping, and living with crazy, what I have dubbed the Psycho Network.
There are plenty of nice folks around these parts (although mention the words Sarah Palin or Tea Parties and they'll morph into Linda Blair in the Exorcist). But we also lots of Bernadine Dohrn look-alikes who appear to have just crawled out from some prehistoric rock.
So, let me take a stab at the burning question of Obama's mental health status.
Is Obama a garden variety narcissist? Probably, but that's the least of our problems.
Most highly successful people have some level of narcissism. Generally it's the narcissists -- charming, self serving, deficient in morals -- who rise to the top. The nice guys and gals who aren't willing to step on their grandmothers for fame and fortune are usually us worker bees.
Obnoxious and madly in love with themselves, narcissists are a pain in the butt to have as a friend, spouse, in law, or boss. They are self absorbed, and mesmerized by their own image. They love to be around people, and are genuinely puzzled when others find them a turn off.
But while they can be major thorns in your side, they're too busy swooning over themselves to try to control the planet. They think they're hot stuff, but not the Messiah.
Now Obama, Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, the Emanuel bros -- we may be talking something way more worrisome than your everyday narcissist. Let's take a look at other character defects, as well as examine another disorder entirely.
A more serious type of character disorder is a paranoid person. Paranoids think that everyone is out to get them. Nothing is ever their fault. They are Gripe Central, and vividly recall every single insult or offense. Paranoids are unhappy, suspicious, resentful, and mistrustful.
Ringing any bells here?
At the extreme end of the continuum is the sociopath (also known as a psychopath). These are dangerous people who are not completely human, in my book. They lack a conscience and view themselves as above the law. They don't like people, and are devoid of empathy.
It would be nice if sociopaths looked deranged and so were easy to spot. No such luck; they can be the pillars of the community. (Think OJ or Scott Peterson, who killed his pregnant wife Laci.)
Interestingly, many sociopaths can easily pass a lie detector test -- they are that good at lying. While nonsociopaths will sweat during the grilling and set off the detector, sociopaths remain calm, cool, and detached.
There's also another whole classification -- delusional disorders. These people look perfectly fine but have fixed beliefs that don't mesh with reality.
If you've ever wrangled with an anorexic, you've dealt with someone with a delusion. Though she is emaciated, faints from hunger, and weighs 90 pounds, she insists she's fat.
Or a delusional addict believes he doesn't have a problem with coke and can stop at any time. Meanwhile, he's clocked some serious jail time, lost his job, and his fed up wife has flown the coop.
A great example of a delusional disorder? Members of a cult. They believe the leader has special powers, and that they are the chosen ones. (Sound famliiar?)
Now, when people ask whether Obama is a narcissist, they may not be talking about a garden variety narcissist. M. Scott Peck in his brilliant book, People of the Lie, describes the malignant narcissist (MN), a term coined by Erich Fromm.
Peck is describing a very dangerous creature capable of great evil -- the Hitler's of the world, as well as the SS guards. His MN is a witch's brew of psychopathology: a narcissist, sociopath, and paranoid, with a generous dollop of delusional disorder thrown in.
While I'm not in a position to offer a definite diagnosis about Obama, there are reasons to be concerned about his character and his ability to look reality squarely in the face. Here are some of my impressions and observations.
To become well functioning adults, humans need to have completed two tasks: 1. to have learned to attach to people, thereby developing empathy and 2. to have formed a firm and soild identity via healthy role models.
Yet, Obama was raised with an odd assortment of characters who seemed to have no clue about the emotional needs of a child. Obama was dragged like a rag doll all over the place, and subjected to conditions that had to be disturbing and alienating.
Abandoned by both his parents, Obama's life circumstances were unstable and ever changing. According to half sister Maya, they were "untethered. . . .drifting in and out of worlds, here and there."
Obama Sr. deserted them to return to his other wife in Kenya (you read this right). Little Barry lived with his mother, then was shlepped to Indonesia to live for several years with mom and new step dad and half sister Maya.
Step dad turned out to be an alcoholic like dad, and mom ferried the kids back to the States. Then she decided to return to Indonesia, though Obama refused to go. He ended up living in Hawaii with his grandparents.
Obama had this to say about moving in with his grandparents: "I was to live with strangers." And: "I'd arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents; I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept my troubles out of sight."
Feel the love?
His grandpa, Stanley, sounded like he had a few screws loose. He was likely damaged goods from his hellish childhood. First, his dad abandoned the family. When Stanley was 8, he discovered the dead body of his mother, who had committed suicide. He was shipped off to his grandparents and got himself expelled from school for punching the principal.
Stanley drifted along himself, eventually joined the military, and married Madelyn. He was disappointed when she produced a baby girl (Obama's mother) rather than a son. In a bizarre and grandiose act, he named her "Stanley." Sick and tired of getting grief for her name, Stanley ended up going by her middle name, Ann.
Stanley and Madelyn raised Obama from around age l0 through high school. Stanley, an impulsive and hard drinking man, made one of the most twisted of parental decisions -- to have Barry mentored by the elderly Frank Marshall Davis, purportedly a Communist who worked on behalf of the Soviet Union; a pedophile who wrote a book entitled "Sex Rebel: Black," an alcoholic, a racist, and a misogynist.
Well regarded bloggers have raised the provocative question about whether Davis violated Obama, perhaps by molesting him. (Read Obama's college era poem Pop, especially the lines, "Pop. . . points out the same amber stain on his shorts that I've got on mine, and makes me smell his smell, coming from me," and see what you think.)
Obama himself has said, in his autobiography, that "Frank" made him feel uncomfortable. Grandpa Stanley and Davis would sit around getting loaded, talking trash about women, and making up smutty limericks.
Whether Davis sexually abused Obama or not, Davis made a lasting impression on his young psyche. Davis blamed racism and capitalism for all of the problems in society and instructed young Barry, "Don't fully trust white people," and "Black people have a reason to hate."
Obama's identity was ever in flux until he linked up with Davis. Now he had beliefs he could rap his mind around -- rage at the system. Obama apparently became filled with resentment and anger even though he lived a privileged life in Hawaii.
As an adult, Obama sought out other people who reinforced and hardened this world view: black nationalists, like Rev. Wright; 60's terrorists, such as Bill Ayers; wife Michelle, who never felt pride in this country, regardless of a Princeton education, cushy attorney jobs, and a million dollar mansion. Chillingly, some of these people, like Rev. Wright, anointed Obama a messiah, which may have only magnified Obama's false pride and delusions of grandeur.
Obama could have gone down one of two roads. One was to face the truth about his life, regardless of the shame, hurt, and grief this would evoke. But Obama chose another path, the one that allowed him to save face; he made the personal political.
His father didn't choose to desert him; racism was at fault. His mother didn't abandon him; the system was to blame. Obama's grandparents didn't corrupt him by giving a creepy guy like Davis personal access to him; they were acting like typical white people.
Obama, I think, created another reality by blaming white American for his family's faults. It's a pattern he's continued his whole life, and his associates are also allergic to personal accountability.
I picture Obama as a man crying out that he's thirsty although he's standing knee high in a fresh water stream. He's been blessed by the fortunes of a king -- prestigious private schools and universities, a lavish home in Chicago, two healthy little girls, state Senate and US Senate appointments, and now the Presidency.
And yet deep down, I beileve that Obama is still the wounded, angry little boy whose parents abandoned him and, years later, died. Rather than resent and mourn them, he's turned his rage on a more convenient target -- the entire United States system -- even though it's that very same system of largely White Americans who elected him President.
Is there anything more to Obama et al. than their righteous indignation? Their seething anger? Their leftist dogma?
These are crucial questions because "People of the Lie" eat, sleep, and drink rage. They are dangerous people because they are soulless, and the soul is where love, forgiveness, and truth live. They're like fallen angels; there is no there.
Are Obama and his closest advisors, "People of the Lie" -- malignant narcissists? God, I hope not.
Here are some words of wisdom from M. Scott Peck, and you can rein in on the diagnosis.
The evil are ‘people of the lie', deceiving others as they build layer upon layer of self-deception. . . . Forever fleeing the light of self-exposure and the voice of their own conscience, they are the most frightened of human beings. They live their lives in sheer terror. They need not be consigned to any hell, they are already living in it.
Evil may be recognized by its very disguise.... We see the smile that hides the hatred, the smooth and oily manner that masks the fury, the velvet glove that covers the fist....
The evil hate the light -- the light of goodness that shows them up, the light of scrutiny that exposes them, the light of truth that penetrates their deception.
Information on Obama's childhood drawn from the books, The Case Against Barack Obama, and The Obama Nation, as well as Wikipedia