Will You Vote For A Narcissist?
Relationship therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil weighs in on the debates, and how the presidential candidates can gain more trust from the American public.
(PRWEB) October 24, 2012
Charisma, rhetoric, and "winning" a debate isn't enough to sustain change. Relationship therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil notes that people see this in their personal lives, and it can also play out on the national stage. "People who are charismatic, convincing people often have tendencies toward narcissism," she explains. While this is in some ways necessary as a presidential candidate, it can also have detrimental affects on how the public views them.
Many people were impressed by Bill Clinton's charismatic appearance at the Democratic National Convention recently, and Psychology Today called Clinton a study in charisma saying he just "had 'it.' That unimaginable thing that makes someone a star." (http://bit.ly/Pci6c2) The article states that charisma is an important quality of a leader and pieces of it can be learned, but the core is intrinsic.
Obama and Romney both also have charisma and while a good leader has qualities that help rally the troops, someone who relies on their charisma may also have tendencies toward narcissism. Additionally, it makes it hard to know who to vote for because charisma covers up a multitude of sins! A narcissist can suck people into their vortex, making it easy to focus on their charm instead of the issues at hand. "Whether in politics or relationship, when under the spell of a narcissist, we may forget what we originally stood for," says Dr. Bonnie.
"They are likely focused mostly on themselves, their careers, and what works - from their perspective," she explains. These can be difficult, divisive traits to overcome in a relationship and Dr. Bonnie prescribes the same exercise both for individuals facing this situation, and for a group of people - a nation, business, etc. - trying to move past division. "It takes more than charm and a firey speech!" she says!
Dr. Bonnie has had success working with couples and helping them emerge on the other side of narcissism, using her Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue. She believes Smart Heart Skills can help political parties and their leaders come to a better understanding of what the country needs. "When I work with patients, I provide a place where each person can express any frustrations or concerns in a constructive manner." She suggests the people she treats check in with each other on any issues they face once a week for a set amount of time to make sure each person is being heard, concerns are being addressed, and plans are being put into action for how to handle any shortcomings.
"Something similar needs to be done for politics," emphasizes Dr. Bonnie. "It's not enough to be effusive and inspirational, or even to sit down with those who think differently than you and have the best intentions." The crucial part of Smart Heart - for both couples and politicians - is to come up with an actionable plan to "handle any shortcomings." Dr. Bonnie admits this is the most challenging part! But, she says, "It will also get us a lot further than charisma or charm!"
Dr. Bonnie talks more about these skills in her book, Make Up Don't Break Up, as well as in this video: http://youtu.be/a-hlUgnwLXc
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