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Riley & Obama – Kindred Narcissistic Spirits
Lee Walton

Sometimes after a slow week for local political sources, it’s difficult to find an interesting topic worthy to write about; such was almost the case this past weekend until scanning through the internet and stumbling upon Dr. Samuel Vaknin’ article, “Barack Obama – Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?” that was posted in this past Saturday’s edition of the American Chronicle. With such an eye-catching and timely title, it surely was worth a quick scan. After a few moment’s investment, I was both stunned and convinced that Dr. Vaknin was not only describing the psychological profile of our nation’s new President, but that of none other that Charleston’s mayor, J. Pericles Riley. Dr. Vaknin’s description of the characteristics of one suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) not only seemed to describe President Obama, but his local side-kick, pitcher-boy, and small city want-to-be emulator, J. Pericles Riley.

Dr. Vaknin defined narcissistic leaders as “nefarious, subtle, refined, socially-adept, manipulative, possessed of thespian skills, and convincing”, but “lacking empathy and being ruthless, relentless, driven, haughty, aloof, distant, and disdainful of simple folk.” “The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substance, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions.” Wow! Now we know how Charleston got its world-class Aquarium, best-in-the-nation, ISO-1 fire department, and “the best fire chief in America”.

According to Dr. Vaknin, a narcissistic leader “…regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, the representative of the disenfranchised, and the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite.” Now we also know from where Riley’s false passion for low-income housing and taxpayer supported public transportation arises; in private, the poor are merely tools to be used to accomplish his personal objectives while treated with his hidden contempt. True to the behavioral patterns exhibited by a pathological narcissist, Riley “Feels grandiose and self-important, exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, and demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.” The good doctor also described the darker, and for the most part, unseen side that fits Riley’s lesser-known, albeit very vindictive, personality – “Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression.” It seems that Dr. Vaknin has unknowingly “nailed” the hidden persona of Pericles as well.

Other behaviors that Dr. Vaknin attributes to Obama are likewise applicable to Charleston’s little Pericles as the hallmarks of pathological narcissism: “Ignores data that conflicts with his fantasy world, firmly convinced that his dreams, thoughts, and wishes affect reality…Feels that he is above the law…displays false modesty…sublimates aggression and holds grudges…demands indulgence and feels entitled to special treatment.” Yep, that sounds for the world like the little tinhorn dictator Charleston has suffered to tolerate for over three decades.

Sadly, pathological narcissism is typically exhibited as a “false self” defensive reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. Tragically, there must be unthinkable, unspeakable demons in Riley’s repressed memories that will continue to haunt him throughout his life. More tragically, Charleston must also suffer Riley’s psychosis because of them.

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