Advanced Issues in Clinical Psychology - Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Leaders/Followers Self Concepts and Charisma Related to the Disorder

Advanced Issues in Clinical Psychology - Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Leaders/Followers Self Concepts and Charisma Related to the Disorder
In Addition to Theories, Criticisms, Limitations and Future Directions of Research in this Field

Research studies, perspectives, theories, and conclusions about charismatic leadership and Narcissistic Personality Disorder will be compared and reviewed. Traditionally in psychology, Narcissistic Personality Disorder was not the typical topic of discussion but in recent decades Narcissistic Personality Disorder has become a popular construct amongst researchers, and psychoanalysts. This paper will emphasize research related to leaders/followers self-concepts, and charisma, in relation to narcissistic personality disorder, and the effects resulting from this combination. In addition theories, criticisms, limitations, and future directions of research in this field will be discussed.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder has been more of a focus amongst clinical and organizational psychologists within recent decades. Narcissistic personality disorder is viewed as a dominant personality disorder (Sankowsky, 1995). This paper will examine the distinctions, varied theories, research studies, and constructs that have been developed in relation to the topic. Perspectives, theories and correlations differed among research studies and literature and each study was designed to understand a different cause and effect. In addition the paper will examine the relationship between narcissism, charisma, leadership, followers attitudes, the true effects and presumptions (hypotheses) researchers have discussed as well as concluded (Soyer, Rovenpor, Kopleman, Mullins, & Watson, 2001). The paper will discuss the results of a weak follower self-concept, demand for self-identification, and how these characteristics may lead follower to a charismatic or narcissistic charismatic leader. It is predicted that the narcissistic and charismatic leader’s attitudes towards followers are related to affect and power.

History of Narcissism, Constructs and Development
Historically narcissism can be traced back to the age of Greek mythology. According to psychoanalysts and analytical psychology schools mythological and spiritual stories are an illustration of the intra-psychic existence, and represent evolution, “interactions of elements, fear, hopes, and failures, and the growth of the human psyche reflected through stories”. (Javanbakht, 2006, pg 63) There were many stories during this time that were written about gods, but one such story was about a young man named Narcissus. Narcissus was loved by many beautiful maidens called nymphs: he broke many hearts and had little sympathy for the hearts he broke. One maiden prayed that Narcissus would someday love, but not receive love in return (Kingfisher, 2001; Ovid, 2000, BK111). Narcissus had one day stopped at a fountain in the woods and saw a person in the water, he was viewing his own reflection. He interacted with his reflection for a long period of time at which he fell in love with his own reflection. Narcissus could not understand why the image he had fallen in love with was unresponsive to his woes, he would soon die of a broken heart (Jalik, 2002)

The Story of Narcissus would later have an enormous effect on Sigmund Freud (1914/1957): (Resick, Whitman, Weingarden, & Hiller, 2009). Freud believed the myth of Narcissus was a representation of the self-absorbed person whose” libido was invested in the ego itself, rather than in other people” (Javanbakht, 2006, pg. 63-64) Freud would later introduce Narcissus in his paper on Narcissism (1914) in which he described the ego, and the personal investment in the self and not others (A.Freud, 1966; S.Freud, 1953; Gabbard, 1999) Freud described narcissism as having three specific manifestations: self-admiration, self-aggrandizement and a tendency to see others as an extreme of the self (Higgs, 2009). Thereafter Freud developed the concept of narcissism and its description of being a personality disorder, becoming the first to dub narcissism as a personality disorder (Resick, Whitman, Weingarden, & Hiller, 2009). Consequently, the conceptualization of narcissism as a personality disorder became the focus of past and present research (Resick, 2009).

Early research was focused on narcissism as a personality disorder, but present-day research has focused on narcissism as a characteristic on which people in the general populace vary (Raskin & Terry, 1988). Additional research done by Raskin, Terry & Hall (1979/1988) provided enough information to describe narcissism as a personality construct: Mental disorder and personality disturbances (Axis I) (Tyrer, 2010) Raskin and Terry & Hall created a psychometric instrument, which would subsequently measure levels of narcissism within an individual. Using the psychometric instrument, Emmons would later identify four distinct characteristics of a narcissist: Exploitive/Entitled, Leadership/ Authority, Superiority/Arrogance, Self-absorption/Self-admiration (Higgs, 2009, p.170-171).

Another influential example of present-day research is the model of “normal narcissism” which is the “dynamic self-regulatory processing model, it defines narcissism in terms of motivated self-construction” (Thomaes, 2008,pg 382). The model explains that the narcissist is not only grandiose and interested in the self -but is simultaneously vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others. The model explains that the narcissist is constantly protecting his or her own self-esteem, through various self-regulatory strategies. The Narcissist sees low self-esteem as bad, and sees high self-esteem as being good. Early development may vary due to over- parenting as well as under-parenting. The narcissist may be a result of both, the over-parented child may development narcissistic behaviors due to parental overcompensation. The under-parented narcissist may feel that the high regard for oneself is a means of protection, “self-construction” (Thomaes, 2008 pg, 382).

Narcissism/Narcissistic Leadership
Politicians, presidents, and CEO’s develop certain skills, which have made them who they have become, skills that have developed them into extraordinary leaders. An excellent description of a leader is an individual who is understood through activities or decisions rather than through looking merely at positional authority or qualities. A leader delivers results, and in order to do this he or she may need many actors and individuals in order to attain these results and power. A leader should demonstrate four key capabilities: they must be perceptive in complex situations-further acquiring successful results, must build cognitive skills in order to supervise in challenging environments, must be able to emotionally inspire and motivate subordinates, and or employees, must create organized environments so other leaders can develop and motivate (Leslie & Canwell, 2010). Narcissists may come from all walks of life, but to the average person the obvious narcissists may be seen to be from the political or leadership sectors in their lives. Historically many leaders have exhibited narcissistic behaviors: Mao-Zedong’s, Adolf Hitler, Stalin, George W. Bush, and Kim Jong Ill.

The narcissist is seen by others to be an elitist, or overly arrogant, (Resick, Whitman, Weingarden, & Hiller, 2009) The narcissistic personality is understood to include distinct characteristics such as; grandiose behavior, fanatical fantasies of self-importance and power, vision of self-beauty, vision of success, sensitivity to criticism, as well as demonstrating behaviors which allow them to persuade and exploit others (Soyer, 2001). Furthermore authors Deluga & Coll understood narcissism through a considerable amount of information derived from Raskin and Terry’s (1988) seven components of the narcissistic personality. The narcissist is described as an individual with considerable self-love, strong-ego, self-importance, self-confidence and entitlement. Seven components were also identified in relation to the narcissistic personality including: Authority, exhibitionism, superiority, entitlement, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, and vanity. The Authoritive narcissist seeks leadership positions in which they have control over a varied quantity of people. The exhibitionist narcissist must always feel that they are the center of attention. The superior narcissist believes oneself is “special”, believing they are better or have a higher importance than others. The entitled narcissist believes they are entitled to power, as well as having a strong need for power. The exploitive narcissist maintains his or her selfish goals through a series of persuasions of others. The self-sufficient narcissist maintains a high need for self-achievement, and the vain narcissist believes they are highly attractive to outsiders and self (Deluga & Coll, 1997).

Measures of Narcissism
Modern research has developed numerous scales and tests, which assist researchers in their diagnoses of narcissistic personality disorder. Some commonly used scales to test for narcissistic personality disorder: The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), NEO PI-R, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), Psychological Control Scale (PCS), The Margolis-Thomas Measure of Narcissism (MT), The Narcissistic Personality Disorder Scale (NPDS), the Narcissism-Hypersensitivity Subscale of the (MMPI)-Scale 5-Masculinity-Feminity (NHMF).

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) (Raskin & Terry, 1988): a “40-item self-report evaluation that measures trait narcissism”, the NPI views narcissism as a dimensional personality trait that is not necessarily pathological but social, well-being and high self-esteem are dimensions of the individual. (Miller & Campbell, pg 451-458) The NEO PI-R (Costa & McCrae, 1992) is a “240- item self-report measure of the Five Factor Model of a personality, which contains five domains of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness”. The Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) “is a 10-item global measurement of self-esteem in which the items are scored on a 1(disagree strongly) to 4 (Agree strongly)”. The PCS items (Barber, 1996) “are scored on a 1 (Not like her/him) to 3 (A lot like her/him) scale” (Miller & Campbell, pg 458).

One study used four different scales to test for narcissistic personality disorder, they did this in order to assess proper construct validity among each scale. The scales the researchers used to measure narcissistic personality disorder: The Margolis-Thomas Measure of narcissism or (MT) (Margolis &Thamas, 1980-81) is composed of complementary statements, representing pathological and socially acceptable forms of narcissism, the Narcissistic Personality Disorder scale or (NPDS) (Wink, 1991) was based on responses on the (MMPI) which is a questionnaire that asks numerous questions in order to base an opinion about an individual’s personality, the narcissism-hypersensitivity subscale of the (MMPI), Scale 5, Masculinity-Feminity (NHMF) (Serkownek, 1975) empirically derived measure of narcissism , is also based on the (MMPI), and the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) (Soyer, 2001, pg 250).

The study consisted of statistics derived from a larger scale project, which studied the relationships linking work roles, behaviors, and performance. Our researchers conducted their study using a 7-page questionnaire, which was handed out to a variety of participants in a variety of companies. The researchers developed several hypotheses about the outcomes of their study: narcissism would be absolutely connected to Machiavellianism (describes individuals who are manipulative and exhibit unethical behaviors) and attitudes, and the want for autonomy, narcissism would be linked inversely with four measures of satisfaction, no correlation would be made between narcissism and three conceptually unrelated measures-needs for accomplishment, approaches toward Palestinians, and outlooks toward gun control (Soyer, 2001).

The results of the study concluded that there were many obvious contrasts and likenesses between measures. It was found that self-reported narcissism was complex, the NPI contrasted the NPDS and NHMF, and the MT showed results that were reflective of previous research done. The MT displayed the strongest validity, confidently correlating with theoretically related constructs such as Machiavellianism, non-significantly with independent measures like the need to achieve, and inversely with all four-satisfaction scales tested. Research concluded that further research and development of the NPI and MT would help develop better means of researching narcissism due to complexities (Soyer, 2001).

Each measurement has its place in helping researchers understand more about narcissistic personality disorder, some more commonly used then others.

Charisma/Charismatic Leadership
Originating from the study of political and world leaders the concept of charisma was initially introduced and studied by sociologist Max Weber (1924/1947), Webber described the charismatic leader as a type of enigma who was endowed with extraordinary skills and talents, and he believed they were different from the norm. Webber believed that charismatic leaders emerged in history in situations of crisis: charismatic leaders were there to provide solutions, and visions, which gave society a better outlook on their futures and situations (Barbuto, 1997). Webber also described the charismatic leader as magnetic believing this magnetism allowed them to influence others through inspiration, rhetoric, body language and convincing speaking style (Deluga & Coll, 1997). Further research described the charismatic leader as someone who was able to effect followers in extraordinary ways (e.g.. Bass, 1985; House &Howell). Research has shown that historically various American presidents have exhibited charismatic leadership qualities (Deluga & Coll, 1997).

Charismatic leaders are also known to possess a quality known as symbolic power. Sankowsky (1995) further explains that symbolic power can be broken into four qualities. First he describes the leader as a nurturer, the followers may even view the leader as a symbolic parent. Secondly, the followers believe the leader is all knowing, in a sense they believe the leader has mystical powers. Also, the followers view the leader as a hero, all-powerful. Moreover the followers believe the leader’s values surmount all others and he or she is purely spiritual (Sankowsky, 1995).

Types of Charismatic Narcissistic Relationships Among leaders and Followers
Charisma is a quality, which plays an active role in leaders. It also acts as a catalyst within leadership. Theorists believe the term is also very “complex” and not easily understood (Galvin, Waldman, & Balthazard, 2010, p.510-511). More complex is the relationship between narcissism and charisma and the roles that each of these terms play in the lifespan of the leader and of the follower.

Narcissism and charisma have been linked with theories of exploitation, misuse of power, and personalized orientation towards leadership (Galvin, 2010). Two factors may be at work in this relationship between narcissism and charisma. The narcissistic charismatic leader may abuse his or her power over others, through a particular type of power and abuse “symbolic status”. Symbolic Status describes the follower’s view of the leader. Followers may view or perceive the leader as a parent figure and, this is considerably more pronounced when leader is charismatic (Sankowsky, 1995, p.57). Following “symbolic status” comes the abuse of power, Sankowsky describes the charismatic leader as having a strong “symbolic power” over followers, which allows him/her to easily influence: aspects of control, power may cause followers to become more susceptible to the leaders influences due to their dependency needs, in addition the leader may begin to abuse his or her symbolic status. The abuse of power may be the confusion of goals, misinformation, failed feedback to followers, this all in order to create the leaders own visions and ambitions. The leader may possibly place blame on the followers: consequently diminishing follower confidence and well-being, this all in an attempt to control (Sankowsky, 1995, p.59).

The self-concept plays a vital role in leader-follower relationships as, the follower’s self-concept may determine how they behave and react to the leader. Following behaviors and reactions there may be various consequent outcomes. The follower may develop one of two types of relationships with the leader: personalized, or socialized. These relationships are based on the individual needs of the followers, and whether personalized or socialized the need for fulfillment is the main objective (Howell & Shamir, 2005). The personalized relationship may bring clarity to the follower’s feelings about oneself. They may also gain personal confidence or an acknowledgement of being needed. Personalized relationships rely on follower’s vulnerability and the persons need for self-identification. The socialized relationship is developed post self-identification: the followers must then develop a means of expression. The socialized relationship gives them a collective outlet in which they can express not there message but the leader’s message (Howell & Shamir, 2005).

Charisma is not only a positive attribute of a leader, but it has also been found to be a negative one as well. Conger (1989) calls this negative aspect the “Dark side”, describing it in a way that brings to light the act of selfishness. A leader’s personal goals and ambitions may hinder him/her from completing initial objective: money, power, and business may begin to cause discrepancies. In turn, this may affect the follower’s relationships with leaders: political, corporate, financial, and presidential (Sankowsky, 1995, p.64).

CEO leadership and Narcissism
A key topic of discussion among researchers is the subject of narcissism in relation to CEO’s, American presidents and other national and international political leaders. Many of the articles being reviewed discussed the positive and negative behaviors that are exhibited by various individuals of high-ranking positions. CEO’s or politicians who exhibit narcissistic behaviors may experience various consequences, performance results, influences, and self-evaluations, which contribute to the leadership process.

One article developed various hypotheses about 75 Major league baseball CEO’s over a 100 year period. Research was conducted using historiometric analyses, a method in which information is gathered through historical, biographical, and archival accounts. The article reviewed the bright sides and dark sides of the CEO, examining two personality variables: core self-evaluations, narcissism; and two leadership variables: transformational leadership & transactional behaviors, and strategic influences, all of which may reflect upon CEO effectiveness and leadership skills. Core self-evaluations was considered to be part of the bright side of the executive or CEO, containing 4 common traits: a) self-esteem and overall self-worth; b) beliefs about causes of events in ones life; c) self-efficacy, or life performance; d) emotional control. Narcissism was considered to be part of the dark side of the CEO personality particularly because of the: arrogance, lack of empathy, inflated self-concept, preoccupation for self, little interest in the well-being of others, and the preoccupation for own goals and fantasies. Transformational leadership and transactional behaviors were considered to be part of the bright side of executive leadership: easily understood as a positive outlook, confident and having control of outcomes and actions. Research suggested that the positive leader was considered to have excellent relationships (groups) and good situational outcomes. Strategic influences varied due to the multiple indicators and influences surrounding the CEO: Proximal Influence (management team, regular interaction), Distal influence (internal motivation), External influence (customers, officials, outside resources) (Resick, 2009, pg1367-1368). Results indicated that both bright sides and dark sides were considered to be useful characteristics depending on individual and outside variables. The narcissistic CEO was indicated to have little concern for reward leadership, concerning recognition of subordinates and employees (Resick, 2009).

Presidential Narcissistic Charismatic leadership
Another study examined the relationships among American presidential charismatic leadership, narcissism, and rated performance: 39 U.S. presidents were studied using historiometric procedures (“examination of biographical information of historical figures by using quantities measurement without any prior theoretical commitment”) (Coll &Deluga, 1997, pg 5) Researchers believed narcissism was positively related to presidential charisma and rated performance. Leadership amid American presidents has typically received immense attention but the narcissistic, and charismatic variables have received little attention in past research. To differentiate this study, researchers sought to explore the influence of narcissism and charisma among the 39 historical American presidents as well as exploring narcissism as a predictor for charismatic leadership. Charisma plays an essential role in leadership, as well as an essential role among American presidents. Charisma is found to influence, motivate, and inspire, all of which may cause followers to idolize leader (Coll & Deluga, 1997) To conduct the study, the researchers distributed the 39 presidential profiles to undergraduate students, with the goal of giving them enough information to make informed ratings about each subject. Each profile was rated for presidential narcissism with the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (40 item self-report which looked for Raskin and Terry’s seven components. “The presidential charismatic and creative styles developed by Simonton (1988)” were used as indicators of charismatic leadership,” each assessor was asked to rate each president using an 82 item analysis. (Coll & Deluga, 1997, pg 7) To rate presidential performance five archival measures of presidential performance were used: historians, consensus, war avoidance, general prestige, and historical impact.

Results showed a unanimous agreement among raters and their evaluations of the narcissistic behaviors of the presidents. The research conducted proved that presidential narcissistic behavior was positively connected with charismatic leadership and rated performance but the likeability factor caused some limitations among assessors. Not all the presidents were believed to be narcissistic charismatic personalities, but President Roosevelt was seen to be the most “charismatic and creative American president “The researchers concluded with an explanation of the various historical resources used to conduct the study. The presidents were not all shown to be narcissists but all displayed behaviors consistent with hypothesis.

Organizational Narcissism
Another study examined Narcissism in organizations, questioning the connection linking narcissism and leadership in managerial situations; the primary goal was to determine the degree to which narcissism is associated to administrative efficiency and candor. The study examined the effects and factors that contribute to unproductive and morally wrong behavior of leaders on an organizational platform, discussing: good and bad leadership, prevalence of incompetent and immoral leaders, narcissistic constructs, interpersonal performance (understanding of human dynamics and processes, ability to correspond clearly, and the capacity to take the perspectives of and create associations with others) vs. conceptual performance (the universal aptitude to think methodically and rationally, to examine the environment for trends, and to solve troubles based on acquired information), and integrity (trustworthy, able to keep confidential information secret, keeps promises, takes responsibility for own actions, truthful rather then deceptive, consistent values)(Yuki, 2006). Research was conducted using a group of mostly male MBA students, from a variety of industries and positions. The researchers measured participant narcissism using Wink and Gough’s (1990) narcissism scale from the (CPI) California Psychological Inventory (developed to capture narcissism in non-clinical populations and is based on the DSM’s definition of narcissism) and managerial performance was measured through an evaluation completed by the participant’s supervisors and subordinates.

The researchers developed several hypotheses: narcissism will be negatively related to interpersonal performance, narcissism will be negatively related to conceptual performance, and narcissism will be negatively related to performance appraisals of integrity. The results indicated that: Hypothesis 1 was partially supported, this was caused by supervisory and subordinate ratings differences; hypothesis 2 was found to have results that proved to have little support, narcissism was not related to supervisor or subordinate ratings of conceptual performance; and hypothesis 3 was again partially supported, depending on ratings.

Limitations for this study consisted of generalized samples: diverse sub samples may have given the researchers better results, the size of the sample could have been larger, and the study could have utilized other measurement scales such as the (NPI) Narcissistic Personality Inventory. (Blair, 2008)

The Narcissistic Leader in the event of crisis
The leader in the event of a crisis may or may not be effective, leaders must stay in control of the situation, and they must seek advice from colleagues. Current Organizations that operate on the global market must learn from failed and corrupt organizations. If a crisis does occur, organizations must stay effective, leadership plays a key role in controlling, containing and having positive outcomes. In the event of crisis, a leader becomes not only a voice but also a picture of hope. In the article it is suggested that a crisis leader is an “organizations public face” which means that all attention will be focused upon this leader. The author suggests that charisma may enhance support and will allow the leader to gain followers in order to repair the damage incurred.(King, 2007), was concerned with the role that a leader plays in global organization, the leader must react to crisis. He explains how an organizational crisis has stages: 1) Pre-crisis (this stage is concerned with the organization and its detection of a crisis, methods of planning ahead to react to crisis, prevention and preparation), 2) crisis (effective leadership by the crisis leader, and the implementation of the crisis plan), 3) Post crisis (this considers the aftermath of the crisis event, leader must evaluate the response to the crisis, and the leader must secure and remanufacture public and business image) (King, 2007).

King describes the narcissist: he believes that if the individual or individuals in the leadership positions are narcissistic it may create potential problems and pitfalls in the event of a crisis. He discusses the narcissistic leaders planning skills, management skills, and how narcissistic personality disorder may have a profound effect on the organizations outcome.

King explains the negative and positive effects that a narcissistic leader may have in the event of a crisis, effects upon planning, and relationships with subordinates, and decision-making. His goal was to recommend several designs or plans which an organization may use in order to prevent or deal with a situation in which their organization may have a narcissistic leader. He proposes alternatives or options for organizations in which they can effectively help or change the effect of the narcissist leader (King 2007).

King concludes by explaining that organizations should provide and implement planning strategies in order to control the development of a narcissist leader. Suggesting that organizations should survey their current leaders and if so make the appropriate changes needed (King, 2007).

The challenge to understand Narcissistic personality disorder remains evident: each measure displays its own validity as well as its own distinct limitations. After reviewing each study it seems that narcissism and charisma go hand and hand in terms of leadership. The multiple theories and constructs about these relationships, clearly express differences. Furthermore the combination of narcissism and charisma is a great recipe for a leader as the leader will be confident, express importance, and be magnetic and fluid with his or her words. These characteristics will gain the respect of followers, subordinates, and underlings, whether the determined leader’s goals are good or bad. It is important that future research continues to develop better testing measures in order to fully understand narcissistic charismatic leaders.

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