Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Narcissism, DSM-IV

From the very start way back on Friday, the part of the Sarah Palin story that caught my attention was the birth of her youngest son, Trig. The first thing I heard was her returning to work three days after giving birth to a Down's Syndrome baby born a month premature. That seemed very harsh to me, but that is something she is proud of and puts as part of her official website as governor of Alaska. Then came out the story of her water breaking in Texas, the eight hour flight with a stopover in Seattle and a 45 minute drive out of Anchorage, where the best hospitals in the state are, to a little clinic outside Wasilla. This seemed so strange, I wondered if there was another explanation. If you read my posts, I certainly considered the possibility that Sarah was not the mother, but I really didn't make up my mind completely, and with the admission her daughter is about five months pregnant, I believe Sarah is the mother, even though I find her actions on the day of her labor nearly impossible to understand.

And then I looked up narcissistic personality disorder on Wikipedia, which takes the info from the DSM-IV. If a person exhibits five of the following nine personality traits, they meet the criteria for the disorder.

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement
6. is interpersonally exploitative
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Let me say two things before I weigh in on this.

a) I've never met Ms. Palin and
b) Damnit, Jim, I'm a mathematician, not a clinical psychologist!

That said, the actions we have seen from her clearly show traits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9. I can't speak to 8. The trip from Texas to Alaska alone clearly show traits 3, 5 and most particularly 7. She's proud of what she did because it shows she's tough. Did she even consider the baby's health and safety that day? I've seen no evidence of it.

There's some talk of her being replaced on the ticket. I highly doubt that there will be an outcry for her removal from the loyal Republicans, and if she does suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, there's not a chance in Hell she'll step down. Still, the boys in the back room may be crunching the numbers, and the Democratic ticket has gotten more of a bounce from the first four days of the Sarah Palin era than they did from the largely successful Democratic convention. Most of the daily tracking has Obama ahead and pulling away nationally, and anyone who has followed any scandal in the past twenty years knows that the press loves the slow drip, drip, drip leak of new details. Some will be personal and some will be political. Some will be decades old and others will be stuff from a few weeks ago.

The original frame for her was that she was a maverick and a reformer, but the truth is she's part of a breakaway ultra-right wing version of the Republican party in Alaska, and after Gov. Frank Murkowski, also a Republican, anyone would look like a reformer, even someone with her questionable ethics and pattern of vetoing useful projects to make sure more state money can be funneled to projects in her old hometown Wasilla.

If she continues to do things that just seem crazy to you, or to me, ask yourself if narcissistic personality disorder could explain her actions. I'm not promising it will always work, but it certainly looks like a good place to start.


Karen Zipdrive said...

Excellent post! You managed to come up with a fresh new angle- kudos!
But I think soon Sarah's time management problems will be over and she'll be free to spend plenty of time with her little special needs preemie grandson...
You see, soon this* will come out.

*go see at my blog

Art said...

Nice post, Matty. After looking at various high-profile Republicans, I'm beginning to wonder whether the GOP screens prospective party members for this. I can see the signs at the entrances to the Xcel Center in St. Paul this week: "You must be THIS narcissistic to enter the Party."

At least we now know what became of Tracy Flick, the student-politician from Election. She colored her hair and turned into Sarah Palin!

Matty Boy said...

A very level headed friend of mine sent an e-mail with the theory that Trig is Bristol's baby, the fat we see is post-baby fat and she will soon have an unfortunate miscarriage, and that will be that. This assumes the Repubs are willing to go for The Big Lie and they think they can plug every leak.

Secrets and lies are heavy weights, and eventually someone falls down.

CDP said...

I'm inordinately fascinated with this story, and veer between believing the conspiracy theories and believing that she is Trig's mother, but that her Mr. Toad's Wild Ride while in labor makes her far too stupid to be vice president. This is a new angle on this story. And now I'm amused at the Republicans taking the "would you ask who's taking care of the children if she were a man?" Ha. OK, that's a long enough comment. It looks like I might need to blog about this.