Are politicians crazy?

So what about the type of person who tends to run for office? Turns out there are certain personality traits that may be common among politicians, according to several professional profilers who spoke to NEWSWEEK. What we do know about these people, says Dietz, is that they may often display two general qualities: extroversion and narcissism. “It takes no great insight to recognize that extroversion would be common among politicians, who make good use of being gregarious, talkative, enthusiastic, assertive, and comfortable with others,” he says.

Narcissistic traits are more problematic, of course. These can include a grandiose sense of self-importance, a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power, and believing he or she is “special.” Narcissistic people may require excessive admiration, and possess senses of entitlement, envy, and arrogance. They also tend to exploit others and lack empathy. Narcissism may be more prevalent among pols than in the general population, Dietz says, but, he adds, it’s at least as prevalent among news anchors, Hollywood stars, and top trial lawyers as well. “It’s hard to stay humble at the top,” he says. “Narcissism helps drive achievement and is also fed by uninterrupted success.” Politicians who are exposed for corruption may have their own problems, possibly antisocial traits such as deceptiveness, failure to plan ahead, recklessness, irresponsibility, and lack of remorse, says Dietz. “Most of the politicians who are exposed for corruption have prominent narcissistic and/or antisocial traits.”

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