Summary of Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths

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Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening


While working as a lawyer, former therapist Bill Eddy saw that clients who became embroiled in combative legal disputes tended to share a personality type – the same type exemplified by populists who have gained power in recent years around the globe. In this book, Eddy compares US President Donald Trump to reviled leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Like these men, Eddy writes, Trump is a “high-conflict personality,” who gained power by making emotional appeals, ginning up phony crises and relying on his media savvy. Only by identifying HCPs, Eddy argues, can opponents hope to thwart them.

About the Author

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist and mediator. He is the Training Director and co-founder of the High Conflict Institute, and works as the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego, California.


Leaders with “high-conflict personalities” (HCPs) have exacted a huge toll on humanity.

Adolf Hitler’s global war and holocaust claimed 55 million lives. Josef Stalin’s purges killed 20 million. Mao Zedong murdered 40 million. All three bloodthirsty leaders had high-conflict personalities (HCPs) – a type that thrives on chaos and resentment. HCPs don’t make a conscious choice to revel in conflict; the behavior arises from their personalities. Rather than calm strife, HCPs exacerbate it. They polarize communities and prioritize laying waste to enemies, real or perceived.

Of course, not every HCP is a notorious world leader. HCPs appear in all walks of life, and their numbers seem to be increasing. While no two HCPs are identical, they tend to follow predictable patterns: They always look to pick fights and then perpetuate them; yet they often fail to grasp that their personalities are the root cause of their discord with others. HCPs never admit fault; they’re defensive and reflexively lash out at others. They never change their ways or seek resolution.

It’s unclear what causes someone to develop a high...

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