A ‘grandiose narcissist’

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.

  • thor42

    Sounds very much like Cunners as well. Michael “rich pricks” Cullen too.

  • kiwiinamerica

    That Australian Financial Review article about Rudd is a must read for National’s strategists re Cunliffe and how to neutralize him.

  • Bad__Cat

    I love the comment I heard recently describing Cunliffe as having all of Rudd’s defects and none of his qualities.

    Oh, it’s a good time to be a National supporter. Spare a thought for all the sad left wing trolls, too embarrassed to appear on WOBH.

  • Rex Widerstrom

    Show me a successful politician who isn’t, to some degree, a grandiose narcissist. It may not be constructed around a framework of supposed superior intelligence; it might be a belief in their own messianic qualities as a result of the reflected adulation of their supporters; or a belief in their own greater authenticity (as, say “a true member of the working class”). Or simply their own perceived superiority in “playing politics” in a manner more ruthless than most.

    Whatever it is, it’s there. The variable is how well it’s hidden and/or controlled. Sure there are politicians who don’t suffer from it, but don’t ask me to name any because they’re eminently forgettable.

    It need not be a character defect unless it wholly defines the politician. Just like an abnormal degree of risk-taking is a prerequisite in a successful F1 driver, for instance. If they went from the track to do a spot of base jumping followed by unprotected sex with a groupie then that recklessness is their defining characteristic and they’re probably headed for a short career (and life). But properly managed it makes them a winner, as with a politician and their grandiose narcissism.

    Rudd, therefore, should be studied carefully by anyone intent on a career in politics as an example of someone who had far too much of what are otherwise positive traits.

    • blairmulholland

      No successful politician is mentally balanced. No mentally balanced person can survive in politics. It is too brutal, and requires one to switch off normal, natural human responses to situations on an ongoing basis.

      The old quip about Charles Upham – that they had to either give him a medal or certify him – is absolutely true of successful politicians. They are on another plane entirely.

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