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A note on narcissism and vanity: both are to be found universally in the human experience. The aspect of malignancy is social and transactional — it has to do with HOW we do our thing and what we might do to others to do it. The difference is that between fair dealing and mafia dealing; also between accountable and open democracy — if you can get it — and corrupt and thuggish tyranny; also between a president that preserves a democratic constitution and relinquishes power at the end of his term, and one who manipulates the law and his political surrounds to keep himself central to power and in power.

The subject of a sociopathic narcissism came up on a wall, and after putting in my two cents with “Facsimile Bipolar Political Sociopathy” — now a hobbyhorse of a phrase — I thought to give just a little more thought to what is contextual, what might better suit Hollywood than Washington, what is normal — or we should be without air conditioning, golf courses, and Cadillacs — and what is malign.

A part of “malignant narcissism” would seem to involve “license”, i.e., absence of conscience in regard to others and no brakes on behavior associated with boundaries, propriety, and, down the line, sadism as a dimension in the capricious and ultimate control of others.

As much the treatment of Shweyga Mullah within the Qaddafi household (at the hands of daughter-in-law Aline) stands signal (with much else from that regime) as to how crazed and depraved that cruelty may become.

“License” — perhaps Muhammad would have applied the term “exceeding limits” — seems to me a late expression along a curve that may find a basis in language (from the uptake stage) and “narcissistic mortification” for its path that will, for the person so affected, inevitably lead to the dehumanization and discounting of others.

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