Politicians' Biggest Battle: Themselves

The former presidential hopeful said he is "egotistical" and "narcissistic."

ByABC News
August 11, 2008, 4:06 PM

Aug. 12, 2008 — -- John Edwards, former senator, one-time vice presidential nominee and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful, can now add one more title to his resume: self-proclaimed narcissist.

The North Carolina native, who just last week admitted to cheating on his wife with documentary filmmaker Rielle Hunter, told ABC News that his time in the political limelight fed into his self-adoration so much so that his personal life eventually became the latest high-profile sex scandal.

"[My experiences] fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe you can do whatever you want," said Edwards, admitting that he cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with Hunter to ABC News' Bob Woodruff. "You're invincible. And there will be no consequences."

"And nothing, nothing could be further from the truth," added Edwards in a press statement he released later that day, reiterating that his time on the campaign trail made him become "increasingly egocentric and narcissistic."

Feeling invincible and having no regard for the consequences your actions may have, is not uncommon for men who fill powerful posts, several psychologists told ABCNews.com, and are common attributes of narcissists.

"There is something about a lot of the people in power that they think the rules no longer apply to them or they're above the rules," said Wendy Behary, an expert specializing in narcissism and the author of "Disarming the Narcissist."

"They have a sense of entitlement that comes with their prestige or place in the political sphere," Behary said.

Mark Held, a clinical psychologist in suburban Denver who specializes in treating overachievers, told ABCNews.com that the Edwards story line is nothing new -- many politicians who have come before him have suffered from similar downfalls due to their self-absorption.

"People who go into certain fields are much more prone to get involved in these kinds of things -- they're people who seek power and need validation," Held said.