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Sunday, December 23, 2007


Your phrase a "flexible conscience" is a good one. I've been grappling with the question: are politicians more likely to be psychopaths or narcissists? I lean towards the latter and your phrase helps me to think about that.

I don't think one would want to describe a psychopath as having a flexible conscience - at least not in the way one would a narcissist.

An for politicians a certain double-jointed is a necessity, it seems.

It seems to me that narcissists will "bend" facts to maintain a positive image of themselves. They can have their own peculiar linguistic tells that entail a more primitive and cognitively compromised level of defensive activity than say, for example, rationalization.

Maybe another post for Dr. Steve?

Dr. Steve,

I didn't have a reference handy when I made my previous comment, but I was thinking of Mardi Horowitz who has discussed the narcissist's reliance on shifting (or sliding) of meaning to preserve fantasied perfection.

"The disguises are accomplished by shifting meanings and using exaggeration and minimization of bits of reality as a nidus for fantasy elaboration. The narcissistic personality is especially vulnerable to regression to damaged or defective self-concepts on the occasions of loss of those who have functioned as self-objects. When the individual is faced with such stress events as criticism, withdrawal of praise, or humiliation, the information involved may be denied, disavowed, negated, or shifted in meaning to prevent a reactive state of rage, depression, or shame." -- in Stress Response Syndromes: PTSD, Grief, and Adjustment Disorders", Third Edition

Thanks for that! Most illuminating. If I can get my head around how it might be with the psychopath I will post on this.

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