Two therapists responded to my theory that Sarah Palin is paranoid, agreeing with one another that she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which accounts for the disconnect between reality and her reactions. One added, “I believe McCain has it also, but it may have been somewhat tempered by age. What's so refreshing about Obama is that he seems completely lacking in the typical personality dysfunction you see in politicians.”
Bicoastal Broads takes a look at the symptoms:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance (exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
The process of “tapping a running mate” isn’t passive and, in fact, is initiated by candidates proposing themselves. This aspect of the disorder explains how Palin could view herself as competent (though it doesn't account for the Republicans who support her). Most of us are amazed by her seeming absence of self-doubt, announcing “I didn’t blink” and repeatedly boasting about “fighting the old boy network” and rejecting money for the bridge to nowhere, claims disputed by others.
- Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
Palin, who entered a beauty contest, was eager to have her looks recognized and moved on to seek political recognition, continually striving for more, despite ambitions that far exceed her qualifications. She’s fired up and likes to say, “When John McCain and I get to Washington…”
- Believes he or she is "special" and understood only by special people (or institutions).
Thus her indifference to criticism and her ability to reject and publicly deny the decision made by the bi-partisan body (which she accused of having been partisan) that found her guilty of unethical behavior and abuse of power. This helps us understand how she shrugs off media attacks and remains buoyant.
- Requires excessive admiration.
Entering a beauty pageant and the way she's approached the campaign is evidence of this trait. Her wardrobe, hair and make-up show no signs of battle fatigue. One therapist pointed out that attaching importance to clothing and appearance is consistent with the disorder. Palin has no bad hair days.
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e. unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
She was determined that the Alaskan officer comply with pressure applied by Sarah and Todd Palin, who wanted their ex-brother-in-law fired. That Sarah Palin sees herself as competent to be second in command of the United States is a demonstration of her unreasonable expectations.
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
In addition to the vindictive attempts in the Alaskan incident with her brother-in-law, we've seen her manipulate crowds, riling up insecurities and hostilities towards Obama. She's been accused of upstaging John McCain and promoting herself, rather than the candidate. In each of her meetings with political leaders in New York, it was apparent she fully expected to dazzle each, including Henry Kissinger and Ahmadinejad.
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
She appears almost indifferent to the needs of her children, two of whom -- the baby and the pregnant teenager -- have special needs at the moment. Palin put them second to her personal ambitions. It was also striking when she registered no emotions and pressed on at the vice-presidential debate as Biden teared up while speaking about losing his wife and other children.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Her facial expressions show her to be smug and self-satisfied. One therapist said, "Another aspect of her extreme narcissism is not only allowing the out-of-control anti-Obama frenzy to take place when she appears, but encouraging it. She does this with a smile and with no concern where it could lead. The crowd, as far as she's concerned, is cheering her on. And she is the center of the universe."
That therapist went on to say, “Add anger management issues to this and you have McCain. Palin also has features of Histrionic Personality Disorder."
This syndrome is defined by a strong need for applause, wanting things done your way, a quest for popularity, believing winning is no fun unless people know you won, desiring attention, competing for spotlight, needing to stand out to be happy, manipulating others, superficiality, feeling best when admired, using your looks to get what you want, vanity, performing and self promoting.
Alaska proved to be a fruitful setting for Palin's disorder. In Los Angeles, she would be one among millions of narcissists and unlikely to have succeeded beyond getting membership in the Screen Extras Guild.