Is your politician an egomaniac?
Some readers have accused me of glossing over this subject in the series on why politicians lie. They believe that many of our politicians are suffering from self-delusion. One reader cited the large number of governorship aspirants in Delta state for the 2015 elections and named those he called jokers.
Another cited jokers among the presidential aspirants, and asked why they are deceiving themselves. My friend, Kunle, knows the reason. These self-deluding people “do not know themselves.” I totally agree with him. And if they don’t know themselves, how well can they know the people they seek to rule?
In America too
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is an exclusive problem of the Nigerian politician. David Reinstein is an expert on egomania. He says he couldn’t think of anyone in American politics whether they were running for the presidency or running for Congress that wouldn’t meet the criteria for NPD.
I will explain presently. NPD means Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Encyclopedia of Emotion notes that egomaniacs may perhaps be suffering from NPD, as individuals with NPD are incredibly self-centred and appear to match the criteria for being an egomaniac. In fact, the clinical condition that most resembles the conception of egomania is NPD.
Egomania is an obsessive preoccupation with one’s self and applies to someone who follows their own impulses and is possessed by delusions of personal greatness and feels a lack of appreciation. Someone suffering from this extreme egocentric focus is an egomaniac. It is psychologically abnormal.
You may notice that this aptly describes many politicians here and overseas? Well, let’s have a look from this other angle.
According to Reinstein, an individual with narcissistic personality disorder exhibits extreme self-importance, inability to empathize with others and heightened sensitivity to criticism. Self-involvement and lack of empathy characterize this personality disorder.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are frequently perfectionists and need to be the centre of attention, receiving affection and admiration, and controlling the situation. Like patients with antisocial personality disorder, this person places entitlement issues at the fore. He feels that the world owes him, regardless of whether he makes a contribution.
Indeed, extreme narcissism is an egotistical preoccupation with self. It focuses on personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how one’s self is perceived by others.
So Reinstein asks: “How could someone not afflicted with a substantial dose of egomania ever consider themselves to be worthy of being elected to such an office? The roles, their responsibilities, trappings and perquisites tend to attract such people. They may not always be the ‘best’ that we have, but their egos are never significantly deficient! Thus, our culture seems to require some egomaniacs.”
If all that is too much grammar, you may put your politician(s) through this checklist.
- Preoccupation with success and power: Egomaniacs are obsessed with fantasies involving their own brilliance or beauty.
- A grandiose sense of self-importance: Egomaniacs exaggerate their achievements and talents, and want other people to recognize them as superior.
- Arrogance: Egomaniacs’ behaviour is haughty, their attitude conceited and they show rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
- A sense of entitlement: Egomaniacs have unreasonable expectations and believe they deserve favourable treatment.
- Exploitative: Egomaniacs are happy to take advantage of others and use people to get what they want.
- Lack of empathy: Egomaniacs can’t and/or won’t acknowledge other people’s feelings.
- A belief of being unique: Egomaniacs believe that they’re special and can only be understood by and associate with people of high status.
- Feel envy towards others: Egomaniacs believe others feel envious of them.
In practical terms, experts have observed, a narcissist is God in his/her own imagination. Ego rules supremely in the narcissist’s life and what energizes them is whatever fuels the ego. Ego loves pleasure and gain. Ultimately, the extreme narcissist feels he/she is most special and, therefore, entitled. To the extreme narcissist, people are actually things to use.
Now, this is what scares me. One would have thought that people from poor and humble backgrounds would be filled with compassion for others and be humble. It turns out that could be a cause of narcissism.
According to Lopez De Victoria, extreme narcissists are created when a child receives a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. This can happen when the parents, as narcissists themselves, are emotionally disconnected from their child.
It creates a dysfunction in the ability for the narcissist to connect emotionally to others.
No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction and wound. This wounded person constructs one or more false fronts in order to survive and insulate themselves from people because of distrust and fear.
It is also said over-pampering in childhood creates an arrogant children and adults who lack a healthy dose of gratitude and humility.
Need we be surprised by behaviour of many of our politicians, when power also corrupts? Well, those with the fear of God tend to stand out as true leaders.