I Like Me! I Really, Really Like Me!
Any good, dyed-in-the-wool narcissist will proudly carry that reliably inflated ego. In the preliminary drafts for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), narcissists are said to display a self-grandiosity that causes a sense of entitlement. It's here where you might find your politician who thinks that having a mistress -- in plain sight -- won't come back to bite his image as a family man. (Not that the trend couldn't be reversed, but narcissistic personality disorder historically affects more men than women [source: Mayo Clinic].)
Which brings us to one John Edwards, former North Carolina senator, vice presidential nominee, onetime presidential contender and self-described narcissist. Edwards famously played on his image as a devoted husband to his wife, Elizabeth. But that didn't stop him from carrying on a not-so-hidden affair with Rielle Hunter, a documentary filmmaker. Edwards was even accused of going a step farther and really breaking the rules when he went on trial for siphoning campaign money to take care of a pregnant Hunter. (He denied the charges, and the jury was hung.) In order to hide his relationship with Hunter, a (married) Edwards' staffer took responsibility as the father of her child, even as Edwards continued his relationship with her.
And what makes a person think they can get away with such baldly unethical behavior? As Edwards himself put it to ABC News, "[My experiences] fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe you can do whatever you want. You're invincible. And there will be no consequences" [source: Friedman].
One interesting note is that studies have been done to show that narcissists -- while totally into themselves -- also are aware of their own narcissism, and recognize that they're often into power and exaggeration. More so, they even admit that how they are perceived by others is less flattering than how they think they are [source: Kaufman]. Which might indicate that changing narcissistic behavior is possible -- if narcissists think being more agreeable and authentic will get them what they want.