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The dominance behavioural system: A multidimensional transdiagnostic approach. (2014)

“Donald Trump’s ego may be the size of his financial empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s the picture of mental health.


Eliot Tang-Smith and Stephen Chen, Department of Psychology, University of California; Sheri L. Johnson, Department of Psychology, University of California, and Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University

Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice 10 December 2014


The researchers “have linked inflated or deflated feelings of self-worth to … bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression” and narcissistic personality disorder.

From their study of more than 600 young men and women they concluded that “one’s perceived social status – or lack thereof – is at the heart of a wide range of mental illnesses. The findings make a strong case for assessing such traits as ‘ruthless ambition, ‘discomfort with leadership’ and ‘hubristic pride’ to understand psychopathologies.”

Or as the associated news release puts it “Donald Trump’s ego may be the size of his financial empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s the picture of mental health.”

The researchers found that “people prone to depression or anxiety reported feeling little sense of pride in their accomplishments and little sense of power. In contrast, people at risk for mania tended to report high levels of pride and an emphasis on the pursuit of power despite interpersonal costs.

“In one study, subjects were gauged for two distinct kinds of pride: ‘authentic pride’, which is based on specific achievements and related to positive social behaviors and healthy self-esteem; and ‘hubristic pride’, which is defined as being overconfident, and is correlated with aggression, hostility and poor interpersonal skills.

“And in a test for tendencies toward hypomania, a manic mood disorder, participants ranked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with such statements as “I often have moods where I feel so energetic and optimistic that I feel I could outperform almost anyone at anything,” or “I would rather be an ordinary success in life than a spectacular failure.”

“Overall, the results showed a strong correlation between the highs and lows of perceived power and mood disorders.”


Access the full paper here: The dominance behavioural system

Read the news release on which this summary is based here: Wealth, power or lack thereof at heart of many mental disorders–wpo120814.php


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