John Harden quoted in article examining narcissists in 2022

John Harden, assistant professor of politics and government, was interviewed and quoted extensively in an end-of-the-year article by Joanna Weiss for Politico.

In the opinion piece “2022 Is the Year We All Finally Got Tired of Narcissists,” Weiss examines how “narcissists had their moment in the sun. But in 2022, some of them got their comeuppance and some of them got worse: our disinterest.”

“Over the past decade or so, a mix of shameless self-aggrandizement and self-confident charm has served certain people extraordinarily well, turning them into venture-capital darlings, licensed-merchandise magnates, Forbes cover models, social media superstars, Oprah confessors, business-conference keynoters, new-money plutocrats and, in one case, president,” Weiss writes. “Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried, Ye (né Kanye West), Elizabeth Holmes, Meghan Markle, Donald Trump: All of them used attention as currency and ego as fuel, and were rewarded, for a time, with what they craved. We’re drawn to people who love themselves.

“‘I think right now people are getting sick of it,’ said John P. Harden, a political science professor at Ripon College, when I tested my theory of narcissism’s limits to him over the phone. I’d reached out because Harden studies narcissism in politics: For a 2021 paper in International Studies Quarterly, he reviewed detailed surveys of presidential historians, correlated them with psychology research, and created a kind of narcissism index for U.S. presidents up to the early 2000s. … Harden’s theory is that ego can drive history: In international conflicts, a narcissistic president is likely to fret about being disrespected, threaten opponents and act unilaterally, ignoring advisers or allies. …

“But Harden says the need to constantly up the ante, seeking more attention even if it’s self-destructive, is part of a narcissist’s nature. ‘These people have this hyperactivity, this constant need to do something … filtered through this inflated self-view,’ he says. They draw the spotlight, attention wanes, and they try to do it again.”


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