How Pathological Narcissism Led to the Rise & Fall of Anthony Weiner

Yes, pun intended ;) but in all seriousness, several people in the media have been labeling Weiner a pathological narcissist lately and I’ve been asked if I agree. To be honest, it’s hard not to agree.

Let’s first acknowledge that everyone is narcissistic. It is part of the human condition. Narcissism is a phase each one of us goes through between infancy and toddlerhood. Those of us who receive a healthy balance of love and affection successfully evolve out of the narcissistic stage and learn to develop compassion and empathy for others. Healthy well-adjusted children learn that other people have feelings, and that mother and the rest of the world, by extension, DO NOT exist to cater to our needs.

Unfortunately, those who receive too much or not enough love and affection remain stuck in a narcissistic stage where they do believe others exist solely to please them and the world should revolve around them. They never learn the emotions that make us uniquely human. They are emotionally stunted.

Pathological narcissism begins in childhood. What many people do not realize is that such malignant narcissism has now become as big of an epidemic as childhood obesity in the Unites States. Several recent studies have found that our celebrity obsessed, reality-based, social media culture, which demands instant gratification and rewards narcissism drives more and more of this maladaptive behavior every day.

It is also important to understand that narcissism falls on a spectrum. Healthy narcissism is a good thing and something we all must possess to some degree in order to have the poise and confidence needed to succeed in life. However, when this narcissism falls off the deep end of the spectrum, it becomes what we call pathological. Pathology is an illness.

Recent research has found that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is more common in corporate executives than in criminals. Board and Fritzon, from the University of Surrey, found that pathological narcissism is more common in high-level executives than in mentally disordered criminal offenders. In their study, the researchers described the executives as “Successful Psychopaths” and the criminal offenders as “Unsuccessful Psychopaths.”

The study confirms selfish, exploitive and manipulative behavior often gets one ahead in life. It has been shown that many CEOs of large organizations possess a high degree of narcissism. This should come as no surprise since tales of CEO malfeasance are everywhere these days. Some experts even attribute the collapse of our financial system to a rise in pathological narcissism.

Research has proven narcissists are more apt to gain leadership and political roles based on their charisma and ability to persuade (or manipulate) others. In addition, since they have no empathy, narcissists are ruthless in their pursuit for power and have no problem stabbing others in the back to get ahead.

Michael Maccoby, noted leadership specialist, explains that many narcissistic leaders on the surface appear effective and productive for awhile. However, this success is short-lived because the dark traits of their narcissistic personality eventually begin to emerge. When their pathology does surface, as in the case of Weiner right now, they singlehandedly destroy their own career.

In a study of over 100 CEOs, researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that narcissistic bosses were more likely to engage in risky behavior that often damages their career. The number one reason cited for this is their need for visibility and attention. Pathological narcissists are addicted to attention and simply cannot resist the temptation to attain more. They believe the more daring their behavior, the more likely they are to be rewarded. Attention is like a drug to them. They can't get enough of it.

It is hard to believe after being caught for sexting in 2011 and resigning from the House, Weiner would engage in the very same behavior that forced him to resign. However, pathological narcissism is an illness that drives one to engage in compulsive and reckless behavior. Although Weiner is intelligent enough to understand the consequences for his actions, his addiction to attention and need to be admired sexually forced him to engage in behavior he knew could ultimately destroy him.

The manner in which he opened his press conference a couple weeks ago by commending himself for warning the public this might happen again is another sign of his raging narcissism. He did not begin with an apology, but instead sent a message of “I told you so” to everyone regarding the fact that more obscene photos emerged of him. It is as if he believes everyone should be impressed by his ability to predict the future and hence, vote for him as the best candidate. Talk about delusional.

While relentless narcissism led to the rise of Anthony Weiner’s career, it also led to his demise and fall. Pathology is an illness. Narcissism, in and of itself, is not always damaging. Narcissism becomes pathological when one cannot control their impulses and ultimately self-destructs. This is precisely what Weiner has done and why I believe both the rise and fall of his career can easily be attributed to the unrelenting and unforgiving pathology of his narcissism.

“We live in a historical period characterized by a sharp discrepancy between the intellectual development of man... and his mental-emotional development, which has left him still in a state of marked narcissism with all its pathological symptoms."
~ Christopher Lasch

Oct 18 - 10PM
outoftheashes's picture

Direct quotes from Anthony Weiner today

Oct 18 - 11PM (Reply to #6)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture

Thanks for sharing, Outoftheashes!

Aug 21 - 1AM
creativeme's picture

George Clooney

Aug 6 - 1PM
MissDaisy's picture

Current topic

Aug 6 - 12PM
Laci423's picture

great post Lisa!

Aug 7 - 10AM (Reply to #2)
cargis33's picture

Laci, Great point! You see

Aug 6 - 12PM
outoftheashes's picture

So true