- Rather than her narcissism masking Sarah's intelligence, I'd say an opposite case can be made: that her narcissism has helped her hide her learning disabilities. Her enormous paranoia, bluster, defensive cunning, and manipulation of those around her through fear has certainly provided a shield beyond which few people have dared to investigate. If she actually is in possession of a college degree, or even a high-school diploma, I wonder to what extent they may have been issued just to kick Sarah down the road and let her be someone else's problem.
- While "acquired narcissism" is an interesting hypothesis, I see Sarah as too firmly rooted in her malady: she will never admit error or weakness (see Tuscon), and so she will never seek or submit to therapy. I could see Bristol, though, as having an acquired form of narcissism. It's not apparent that she expresses the same maniacal insistence on omnipotent AGENCY that Sarah exhibits. Bristol seems more conflicted in her behaviors, and she shows genuine tenderness towards the babies and toddlers that her mother is constitutionally incapable of, as we can tell from Sarah's body language. I can see that Bristol may have adopted her narcissism as a means of survival in Sarah's world: the world to which Sarah has bound her.
- We can never let our guard down around Palin, because she is capable of anything. To have her faults recognized, or to be challenged either publicly or privately, is a matter of (psychic) life and death for her. It really is.
- I believe I have, in my extended family, two narcissists or psychopath/sociopaths, father and son. The father is marginally functional (can often "pass" for normal), the son less so. I believe this is a genetic condition, as there is a history of mental disorders in the father's side of the family, including a bi-polar dx and a murder/suicide. An experienced psychologist brought in to deal with the son told the family that therapy would be a waste of time: that the son would merely turn it into a game of manipulating the therapist. This is "unofficial", of course, because it is apparently unethical, or at least politically incorrect, to diagnose certain types of mental illness in minors. I have experienced the son's manipulation first hand over a number of years, so I feel the therapist is correct. The boy must always be the one to initiate or conclude any activity or conversation that takes place, even ones in which he is not directly involved. It's quite uncanny and you may not even notice it being with him for a day or even two. But then you see it in every. single. comportment: He MUST have total control. He routinely attacks and bites teachers, the psychologists and aides, and even the principal (he's 10) when he doesn't get his way. He'll leave class, march to the principal's office and demand that his teacher be fired (because she's not doing what HE wants her to do, she is "broken" and must be done away with). I'm amazed they still allow him in the (regular public) school. This is NOT generic "spoiled brat" behavior: he'll demand ice cream, and if given it, he'll throw it in your face and spit at you if he decides it isn't the right flavor, or it's not in the right color cup. He loves to fuck with people's heads and 'trick' them. He is… Insane. He has been like this from birth! As an infant, he was very hard to feed, because he was always angry and agitated. He never slept. At the age of two, he announced that he was God. I am convinced that he is just "wired differently".
The father in "my" NPD duo is a coward; he'll bluster a while and then turn tail. He's told me he "would kill me" (this is just in normal conversation, because I disagreed with him about some political or social policy, I can't even remember what it was… it wasn't a personal conversation, anyway, because he doesn't really "do" personal conversations; he makes pronouncements). He then precised (since he's a lawyer now) "I WOULDN'T kill you, but I would LIKE TO kill you". Then he ran upstairs like a little kid! I didn't know whether to laugh or to call the police. The son is more fearless (will run away from home) and is physically dangerous (will punch, bite, head-butt, kick, throw hammers, etc.) and I don't see where his limits are, so I try to steer clear of him. In both cases, though, being thwarted in any way is interpreted as an attack on their very existence. As I said earlier, it's a matter of "life and death" as far as their perception is concerned, from what I can tell.
- There's a surprising number of commenters on these blogs who have run across narcissists in their own lives, and I think that's exactly why we have the strong opinions about her that most of us do: because we know she will never stop. Never. - We accept that children can be born with a club foot, or with an inherited blood disease. Why are we so skittish about diagnosing a clearly diseased brain? Each physical mutation is a potential evolution. Arguably, the more organic narcissists and psychopaths succeed in reproducing, the more of them there'll be.
- If you haven't had to interact with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you aren't quite prepared for how strangely they can act (as Sarah does, oftentimes against their own good). And collectively we don't really realize how many of these sociopaths or personality-disordered types there are out there.
- I'm sure "PhD" would concur that you have to consider the whole person, and that while narcissists have a number of frustrating and (in my opinion, irredeemable) common traits, they still are individuals with something of a (well-hidden) "personality" and can be funny/boring, cowardly/fearless, stupid/intelligent, etc. The vast majority aren't going to be violent serial killers, most will end up just being the petty tyrants we sometime run into in our day-to-day lives (though the damage they do to those close to them is still vast). What they can't be is loving, as far as I can tell. They can be needy, which is probably often mistaken for love, and which allows them to bring and trap sane people into their parasitic life-support system.
- A commenter wrote objecting to Sarah's being singled out. It's true, there are a lot of other sociopaths out there, many of them functioning at the highest levels of government and of business. It sounds like an exaggeration to say so, but I would go on record stating that—as a lay person—I'd regard Dick Cheney and GWB as sociopaths. Banksters like Hank Paulson and Dick Fuld, those sorts… I think Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh are sociopathic narcissists. Have you read the latest Rolling Stone piece on Ailes? He's not a mentally sound individual; he's similar to Sarah, just with far greater intelligence, and a greater capacity to mold the world around him to suit himself. Cheney and Ailes don't need to personally head-butt people to get their way; they can ensure far more violence and mayhem with what they are doing now, which is perfectly evil, yet "legal" (in at least some cases).
The commenter mentioned Anna Wintour, who, yes, seems to be a narcissist. But the difference between Anna Wintour and Sarah Palin is that Anna Wintour isn't expecting that we give her control of a nuclear arsenal. A large segment of the population can ignore Ms. Wintour, but Mr. Ailes, among others, is not allowing us to ignore Mrs. Palin.
- I know some people think it is irresponsible to speculate about these individuals, but with the years of photos and videos and transcripts… all the unguarded moments… I think we have more material on Sarah than any therapist would get out of a normal patient showing up once a week and revealing what they choose to reveal. Of course, I'm not knocking therapists; I'm sure they know which sorts of questions to ask to dig deeper… it's just that I don't think we need to wait for an in-person-expert's opinion to figure out that Sarah is seriously mentally ill, and a pathological node of constant chaos and toxicity in the life of her family, and unfortunately in the life of our nation.
Thank you again, Lidia, for providing us with this thought-provoking discussion.