Kevin Rudd has been described as a ‘grandiose narcissist’…now who else do we know who is just like that?
Australia’s Liberal Party had a secret campaign tool in the form of a personality diagnosis of Kevin Rudd which found him suffering from a disorder known as ‘grandiose narcissism’, writes The Australian Financial Review’s Pamela Williams.
Liberal campaign experts had sometimes joked to each other that public antipathy to Gillard meant they needed only to hang her photo on walls around the country and then sit back; but when it came to Rudd, they believed his messianic self-belief and micro-managing style would soon emerge to remind voters of why they too had lost faith in him the first time around.
The ruthless manner in which Rudd had been despatched by his own side in 2010 had laid the seeds. His successor Gillard had never explained why Rudd had been destroyed. Had she done so – invoking the tale of dysfunctional management which seeped out in any case – then Gillard might have at least partially headed off the public traction which Rudd was able to invoke later as a victim, and a prime ministerial victim moreover, unjustly dealt with.
The Liberal strategy to turn the focus to Rudd’s dysfunction was supported by a secret tactical tool.
The Financial Review reports that held deep within the top strategy group of the Liberal war room was a document which gave a name and a diagnosis to the personality of Kevin Rudd. It was a document provided to the Liberal’s strategy team on an informal basis by a psychiatrist friendly to the Liberals after Rudd had returned to the Labor leadership on June 26. In a nutshell, this document offered an arm’s-length diagnosis of Rudd as suffering a personality disorder known as “grandiose narcissism”.
The strategy was quite clever.
The document was not shown to Abbott, but rather remained within the strategy group as an informal check-list, often as a tool for comparison after Rudd had already behaved in ways that the Liberal strategists believed could be leveraged to their advantage. The Liberal war room had reached its own conclusions about Rudd long ago, based on his public behaviour and the damning revelations of his colleagues.
Describing grandiose narcissism as less a psychiatric disease and more a destructive character defect, the document suggested Rudd was held together by one key strut: an absolute conviction of intellectual superiority over everyone else. “Kick out that strut and he will collapse”.
Rudd, the document went on, was vulnerable to any challenge to his self-belief that he was more widely-read, smarter and more knowledgeable than anyone else “on the planet”. Such a condition of grandiose narcissism would make Rudd obsessively paranoid, excessively vindictive – “prepared to wait years to get revenge”.
Rudd would be threatened by a rival in any of his fields and would be obsessively paranoid and ready to retaliate to real or perceived threats; he would suffer from excessive suspicion. This could be tactically exploited, the document suggested, by promoting the idea that Rudd was merely a caretaker prime minister, to be terminated by colleagues once the election was won.