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Dear Voters, Choose The Healthy Narcissists

This is such a good article I had to share. Dr. Craig Malkin posted to Psychology Today’s blog an article he wrote titled, A Psychologist’s Open Letter to U.S. Voters – A research-backed guide to picking the next president.

To summarize, Malkin notes

What we should be far more concerned about is not whether politicians are narcissists-most are—but how healthy they are. And that’s where you come in.

You have the power to shape the future of this country.

Politicians are groomed by us—by our applause, by our polls, by our votes. Whatever you seem to love or hate, they’ll embrace or reject. So be careful what you applaud or attack. It matters what they—and all the little future leaders watching them—think you want in a leader.

Instead, I offer a guide, based on research, for what keeps leaders healthy, so you can applaud the right behaviors, and, I hope, punish the dangerous ones.

People high in healthy narcissism inspire without undermining. They lead with conviction not cruelty. They bring out the best, not the worst, in the people around them. That’s who we need leading the nation.

Malkin then lists 9 ways voters can “train” politicians to not behave in unhealthy narcissistic ways….

Do applaud careful reflection.

Don’t applaud insults.

Do applaud feelings.

Don’t applaud manipulation.

Do applaud collaborative behavior.

Don’t applaud black-and-white thinking.

Do applaud apologies.

Don’t applaud evasiveness.

Do applaud curiosity.

And then he sums it up…

It’s up to you, America. Narcissists will always be drawn to politics. But you have the power to make sure the narcissist in the Oval Office, or in any other elected office, isn’t so addicted to feeling special that they forget the needs of the people who put them there in the first place.



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  • Amara April 7, 2016, 10:45 am

    His ideas are good but unlikely to reach any but a tiny minority–and even fewer of those will adhere to them.

    I have been voting a long time and all too often I’ve had to vote not for but against. In other words, the lesser of two evils. This year it is, by far, much more terrible. There is no “lesser of two evils.” The four or five left are so terrible that I really believe we, as decent Americans and human beings, are screwed no matter who wins. Because no matter who wins, we voters and citizens are losers.

    I am so saddened by what I see coming I can’t even hear about it any more. This should be an unacceptable situation for those who care to be in–but politicians and political parties don’t care at all.

  • Cat April 7, 2016, 11:25 am

    I am far more worried about those seeking the office of president who do not seem to know what Article II of the Constitution says about the powers of our chief executive.
    I have always wondered what happened to students who slept through the required high school class in American Government. I am beginning to think they are running for the office without ever having heard of the balance of powers or realizing that a president is not a dictator with unlimited powers.
    Let us vote those who have a definite plan for improving the country within the constitutional limits of the office, who can specify how his/her plan will be implemented, what the pros and cons of the plan will be, what it will cost the taxpayers, and why it will work as outlined.
    Don’t shout, point your fingers, call names/use off-color remarks and wave your arms about. Give me a well thought-out, practical plan that shows you understand the political climate of our times, what our trade-agreements are with other countries, the international economy, the history which has landed us here, and that you are not going to do anything stupid that will leave us all gaping.
    Now if whomever can manage that will please step up and give us your name before this gets any worse…

    • girl_with_all_the_yarn April 7, 2016, 3:03 pm

      Funny you should mention this, but…

      a town in Alaska thought just that about their local government. So in 1997 they elected Mayor Stubbs. Stubbs went unchallenged his entire career with a near perfect approval rating. In 2014 he stepped down from his position to run for state senate, and recently he backed out of the presidential election so he could retire.

      Stubbs is a cat.

      • Cat April 7, 2016, 5:16 pm

        I read that. Unfortunately, Stubbs was too young to be President of the United States.

  • Kay_L April 7, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Oh brother, another article telling people what to do.

    I’ll vote for whom I please, thank you very much. Don’t need some psychologist to tell me what Behaviors I am to reward or punish–seriously is that even possible.

    The alternative to deciding things at the ballot box is bloodshed. When you decry how politics are uncivil, consider the alternative.

    • admin April 7, 2016, 4:39 pm

      Speaking of bloodshed, I found a letter written by my great, great, great grandfather in December 1866 just after a presidential election. This is what he wrote concerning that election to his cousin,

      “The election passed off very quietly, no one shot or stabbed, and that was a wonder. A year ago there was no less than five killed to my knowledge, but they have not been on the fight of late as much as usual.”

      • Cat April 7, 2016, 5:20 pm

        Wasn’t it Andy Jackson’s inauguration party at the White House that turned so raucous that they had to put the alcoholic punch bowls on the front lawn to get the party-goers to stop tearing up the White House?
        I’d have paid money to see that one.

        • Amanda H. April 9, 2016, 10:19 am

          I do seem to recall learning about that in high school social studies.

      • Kay_L April 8, 2016, 4:31 am

        We tend to forget that adults used to sometimes hash out their disagreements with a duel.

        Specifically, what I was referring to as bloodshed though is a coup or even war. We are very unique in the history of the human race that for over 230 years, we have a peaceful transfer of power every four years. It’s really quite amazing. The structure of our representative democracy is such that the people have a voice but it’s not “mob rules.”

        Like another poster, I get frustrated that people do not understand civics and that the President is not a King who can just do whatever he wants. When they don’t get what they want they blame the process. But, our governmental structure is a thing of beauty. It’s not perfect by any means, but it works better than anything else ever could!

        • Mustard April 8, 2016, 10:53 am

          Kings or Queens who can do ‘whatever they want’ fortunately exist mainly in fairy tales. Thankfully.

          • admin April 8, 2016, 12:42 pm

            In this age we call them “dictators”.

        • Calli Arcale April 11, 2016, 11:25 am

          “We are very unique in the history of the human race that for over 230 years, we have a peaceful transfer of power every four years.”

          Well, that’s debatable. You would have to exclude the Civil War on the technicality that instead of trying to depose the President and Congress, eleven states seceded instead, an action which led directly into the bloodiest war in US history. And you’ve have to ignore Bleeding Kansas.

      • iwadasn April 14, 2016, 10:35 pm

        In the 1904 Tour de France, riders attacked each other with broken glass and nails, and onlookers threw rocks at the riders until they were driven off by officials firing warning shots. Apparently lots of events that are calm today used to be ridiculously violent.

  • lkb April 7, 2016, 3:21 pm

    I gave up Facebook for Lent and was strongly tempted to make it permanent, in large part because of the ugliness of the run-up to the next U.S. Presidential election. Neither party’s candidates or supporters are coming off well. I am sick to death rude, boorish comments that smack of sixth-grade school yard bullying, even down to criticizing a candidate’s personal appearance. Is this how we’re supposed to select the next leader of the free world? The eyes of the world are on this race — can you imagine if instead these candidates were negotiating a trade agreement with another country — trying to evade or end a war? Dignity — where’s the dignity?

    As Cat said above: “Don’t shout, point your fingers, call names, use off-color remarks, and wave your arms about. Give me a well thought out, practical plan that shows you understand the political climate of our times, what our trade agreements are with other countries, the international economy, the history which has landed us here, and that you are not going to do anything stupid that will lead us all gaping.”

    • Mary April 8, 2016, 7:18 am

      Those friends that can’t seem to control their comments during elections have been hidden from my news feed.

      With others I have blocked the political sites that they share. So at this point, very few political posts show up in my feed since all sites that bug me have been blocked.

      • Amanda H. April 9, 2016, 10:23 am

        This is why I’m glad my FB friends list is short and generally not too political (plus I don’t check too often anyway). Political posts don’t show up on my feed all that often, just once in a blue moon, so I get to catch up on family updates rather than have to slog through tirades about Candidate A or biased articles about Candidate B and so on.

    • Trinity April 8, 2016, 4:06 pm

      You do know it’s only Americans who refer to their president as “leader of the free world”, right? None of the rest of us feel that way, now more than ever.

      • lkb April 11, 2016, 9:21 am

        My apologies to Trinity and to anyone else who was offended by my “leader of the free world” comment. I didn’t mean to come off as a stereotypical elitist American but I see where that comment was construed that way. I just meant that this election is truly serious, not a reality-tv show where we get to “vote someone off the island.”


  • Marozia April 7, 2016, 5:41 pm

    And he’s correct.

  • Serryce April 7, 2016, 9:21 pm

    I’m rather more worried by all the people who are voting for a president whose policies they support, but who seem to have no ideas which senators would approve those policies.

    I mean, Presidential fiat is all very well, but they still have to get their policies through the Senate most of the time: that’s why they’re PRESIDENT of America, not DICTATOR, right?

    • Cat April 8, 2016, 10:13 am

      That is the sticking point. People cheer, but they don’t realize that Congress has the power to check the president.
      The president cannot make laws; the executive office requires the president to enforce the laws already on the books, not to make up the ones he/she wants. He/She has no power to cancel treaties/trade agreements or to set tariffs according to personal whim. Ditto for changing the Patriot Act so as to blackmail anyone into paying for anything. It’s all smoke, not rational policies.

    • Lerah99 April 8, 2016, 11:14 am

      People are all in a tizzy about the Presidential election but then can’t name their own Representatives in the House or the Senate.

      They have no idea who their member is in their local county board, their city council, or even their mayor. They have no idea who represents them in their state congress.

      They are willing to fight, scream, un-friend people, etc… over who is being supported for President. But they have no idea about all these other politicians who hold a great deal of sway over their lives.

      I have one friend who is so adamant in his support of a candidate that he actually posted “If you aren’t voting for then unfriend me now! I care too much about this country to be friends with the people who are destroying it!”

      This is the same friend who couldn’t name a single supreme court justice several months ago when we were discussing a supreme court ruling that he disagreed with.

      I don’t mind people being passionate and involved in politics.
      I just wish they actually were rather than using politics to create this weird “us vs them” dichotomy.
      It has become “If you vote with my party you are a good person. If you vote with the other party you probably enjoy kicking puppies and making babies cry!”

      • Cat April 9, 2016, 10:57 am

        That is an excellent point. Few people really keep up with local governments and what they are doing. It may have something to do with the fact that it’s the President and Congress that get us into wars, and our local governments just annoy and tax us. We are more tolerant of our local idiots; the ones in Washington scare us.
        Our governor just got chased out of Starbucks by a woman who pointed out that his view of our local economy and our view of our local economy are rather different. He fed before her without his coffee. It takes a lot to chase a governor away without his latte.

        • Cat April 9, 2016, 10:58 am

          That”s “fled”, not fed.

        • Lerah99 April 11, 2016, 11:25 am

          We live in the same state!

          Not only did our Governor flee without his coffee, but then he posted his own attack ad against the woman from Starbucks on his Youtube Channel.

          That’s right, our Governor spent the time and money to have an attack ad against a private citizen created and posted online. It’s shameful.

  • JD April 11, 2016, 11:26 am

    This election is why we need to emphasize civics and government classes and study the constitution thoroughly from grade school through college — and not just by using dry textbooks. A public that is well educated in Civics and government will (hopefully) produce better leaders AND better voters.

  • daphne April 13, 2016, 1:35 am

    I just can’t imagine that anyone who is not narcissistic on some level would run for office in this country. One of the few things I like about Trump, is that at least he is honest about it.

    I’ve often thought that the prerequisite for holding public office should be that one does not want to hold public office. Only then perhaps, will the lofty title of public servant truly be realized. And when studying our founding fathers, they held to that principle. In their time, reluctance was considered a admirable quality. And I can’t help but wonder if Paul Ryan has picked up on that gem of reverse psychology.

  • Cheryl C April 14, 2016, 10:50 pm

    Since my candidate is out of it all, I am seriously thinking of voting for “none of the above”. The ones that are left are so awful there is no lesser evil.