In trying to address issues relevant to understanding the case of Kent Hovind, I was recently (January 5, 2018) accused of being a narcissist as my detractors attempted to derail the legitimacy of my efforts to discuss substantive matters related to the legal and related problems of Kent Hovind.

That has prompted me to post this article.

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Link to Article:

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Jim Jones and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

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(excerpts)

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Jim Jones and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

by Gary Maynard

(Professor Gary Maynard teaches in the Sociology Department at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. His complete collection of writings for the jonestown report may be found here. He may be reached at Gary-Maynard@utc.edu.)

In this essay, I will examine whether or not Jim Jones was a narcissist by comparing his behavior and the eye-witness accounts of his followers and non-followers to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) definition of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

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Many narcissists are talented, and others view them as special.

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This element of a narcissist actually having apparent talent makes it hard to convince those around the narcissist that this person is not what they seem and that underneath the talent and feigned empathy is a monster of attention and energy that wishes for nothing but complete and utter power and control over as many people and institutions as possible.

Of course, one logical outcome of this disorder – indeed, one which is necessary for narcissists to wreak the havoc that they do – is that they can’t do the damage to society and their social networks all by themselves.

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This observation pertains to Jim Jones as well – he could not have done what he did by himself – but the real question I seek to answer is this: did Jim Jones suffer from narcissistic personality disorder?

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For the sake of brevity, I will only use the DSM IV-TR definition to evaluate Jones’ personality and behavior.

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The DSM IV-TR lists nine characteristics that are used to diagnosis whether or not someone has narcissistic personality disorder.

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The patient must display five or more of these characteristics before they are considered to be impaired by the condition, and the more characteristics the patient displays, the more acute the disorder.

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The more acute the disorder and the more intense the symptoms are, the more dangerous and sociopathic the person will be or will become.

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The description of a narcissistic personality disorder is as follows:

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A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

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  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes (DSM IV-TR Axis II Cluster B).

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I believe that Jim Jones displayed many if not all of these characteristics at one point in his life or another, and that there is ample evidence to demonstrate this.

Narcissists will justify breaking rules and laws by using broad rationalizations to neutralize the feelings of hypocrisy.

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Many narcissists, like David Koresh, rationalized having sex with all the other married females in his group because, as he said, he was building the “House of David” by fathering children with the female members of the group.

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In comparison, what is clear from his actions is that Jones did believe he was above the law of the state and biblical morality, but he did use rationalizations to justify his behavior.

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The violence he ordered or condoned within the group was good for its cohesion of discipline and self-governance, to do what was right for the collective by making examples out of its miscreants.

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The ninth and final characteristic is a high level of arrogance and rude and/or self-promoting behavior, meant not only to prop up the narcissist in front of others, but also to belittle and embarrass others.

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This characteristic leads narcissists to overestimate their looks, abilities, charm and power, which in turn can lead to major mistakes.

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These failures can induce panic in the narcissist after it is revealed that they are not as great as they made themselves into in public. 

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From this brief analysis of Jones’ behavior using the DSM IV-TR diagnostic criteria, it is apparent that he suffered from at least eight – if not all nine – of the characteristics at some point during his life.

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The question then becomes not whether he was a narcissist, but how severe was his narcissism?

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By the time he died, it is clear that he was suffering from an acute case of narcissistic personality disorder with violent and paranoid delusions and tendencies.

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Most psychiatrists would have put him on strong medication combined with intensive therapy.

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They may have even separated him from others. But because of his social reputation and past successes, he was instead lauded by local, state and national politicians until he left the US and went to Guyana for the last time in 1977.

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The failure to identify these characteristics and arrest them before they spiraled out of control led to the abuse, murder and suicide of more than 900 people in November of 1978.

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What could have been done?

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It is hard to tell, but the media, Congressman Ryan and the family and friends of those isolated in Jonestown tried to draw attention to Jones and the danger he posed.

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By 1978, Jones was in a prison of his own making, one of paranoia and megalomania.

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The attention from the outside – especially as it turned against him – seemed to trigger the worst aspects of his personality disorder.

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In addition, what Jones’ life represents is a warning to everyone of the allure and danger of narcissism and narcissists.

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Many narcissists are very attractive, talented, inspiring and charming, but this is mostly a front, intended to disarm the narcissist’s victims.

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The cleverer the narcissist is at manipulating his/her followers and supporters – and in hiding the dark side of narcissism – the more powerful the narcissist will become and the more damage they can cause, not only to their followers but the world as a whole.

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If we are able to use Jim Jones and other narcissists as examples of what to look for, then we will be better able to reduce the damage that narcissist do in our lives and in society.

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…it is imperative that we are able to identify and control these dangerous sociopathic narcissists before they become powerful enough to do too much damage.

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Link to thread from which the image below was taken:

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/KentHovindMMM/permalink/1732458226820470/

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