Saturday, September 12, 2015

Narcissists and Leadership

Psychology Today recently published an article called “Donald Trump and Our Obsession With Narcissistic Leaders” ( It claimed that Donald Trump is a narcissist, and that people in America keep looking up to narcissistic businessmen and politicians.

I ask this: Even if Donald Trump is a narcissist, so what? Both Bill Gates and Bill Clinton have been accused of being narcissists, and both of them have been vast contributors to America. In all cases, what we see is strong, driven, hard-working people who have made major contributions to society. And they did it while operating in a hostile climate that saw them as being made wrong.

Which brings us to a major point, and that is, Is narcissism necessarily bad? Clearly there is nothing to justify Hitler; but the world owes a lot to its narcissists. They have a vast presence in business, politics and entertainment. It takes someone with chutzpah to make a meaningful difference in the world. However good his intentions, he will be facing people who want to tear him down; and my response is that the ability to stand up to control should be seen as courage rather than as illness.

On this matter religion is far ahead of psychology. Christianity assumes that we are all sinners; it also says that we have free will to be able to rise above sin. Whereas psychology has proposed no workable solutions to this matter. Essentially it wants to eviscerate these people, regardless of how hard they work, what contributions they make or whatever work they do on themselves. According to them, once a narcissist always a narcissist; and the result is a malicious, mean-spirited war against these people, most of whom are innocent of any serious crime. These people are portrayed as being irreparably wrong and treated terribly, being denied even the right to be able to change for the better.

This means the following: That psychology has no solution to the problem; which means that its opinion on this matter is worthless.

If people are responsible for who they are, then anyone – even a narcissist – can act rightfully; and if some people cannot act rightfully then people are not responsible for who they are. If someone accused of being a narcissist can never behave rightfully, then he is not responsible for his condition. And if people are responsible for who they are, then anyone can act rightfully, whatever psychology he happens to have.

The next time someone accuses me of being a narcissist, my response will be: So are Donald Trump and Bill Gates. Stop attacking me for things that are done by much more influential people and recognize how much the world owes to people you see as being made wrong.


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