CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett left the Leighton Criminal Court building Thursday looking as stoic and defiant as ever, despite being found guilty of staging a fake hate crime three years ago.
When Smollett is sentenced next month, prosecutors said they plan to emphasize his bizarre turn on the witness stand, in which he lied for “hours and hours and hours” about how two Trump-loving bigots beat him up, tied a noose around his neck and doused him in bleach.
But far from showing remorse that might sway the judge in his favor, Smollett, 39, has continued to dig in his heels and told his attorneys to appeal the verdict.
Experts say that stubbornness is among the textbook signs of narcissistic personality disorder that Smollett seems to exhibit — and which may have been exacerbated by growing up in an unusual family bubble.
“When someone launches someone like this, there’s a grandiose assumption they’ll be able to get away with it,” Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and expert on narcissism, told The Post. “Then it slides into something delusional and the delusion becomes the truth and it becomes the truth he lives in. It becomes his reality.”
While many watching the case wondered why Smollett didn’t just cut his losses early on, Durvasula said it doesn’t work that way with narcissists.
“Nothing cuts through the matrix of this arrogance and delusion and entitlement,” she said. “They’re all defenses against a deep well of insecurity and inadequacy. Anyone who walks around like this is covering up a stench and it’s something they don’t want others to smell.”
Dr. George Simon, an author and nationally known expert on narcissists and manipulators, says new research shows modern narcissists don’t actually suffer from secret low self-esteem and vulnerability.
“The type of narcissist we’re seeing in today’s indulgent world are those who are truly legends in their own minds,” he told The Post. “They are at war with the ultimate power: the truth. They’re setting their own rules, not defensively but aggressively. They tell you what reality is and they expect you to believe it.”
The six Smollett kids were united both by their early lives as child stars on a sitcom together and by their parents’ longstanding civil rights activism.
Growing up, “we had our own world,” Smollett told The New York Times in 2016. “We call it our Smoll Nation.” The family had their “own culture” and “ganged up” on anyone who crossed them, his siblings said.
His sister Jurnee, who affirmed Jussie’s innocence last year in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, said the kids “have their own culture” and stand by each other no matter what.
That family loyalty, coupled with some extraordinary support Smollett got from powerful people, may have hurt Jussie when he needed someone to be straight with him, Durvasula said.
“He had these heavy hitters championing and cheerleading him,” Durvasula said. “All these people in the political and legal and justice world — [Cook County Attorney] Kim Foxx, the Obamas and Kamala Harris come to mind. They did not do him any favors. His family may also have enabled his grandiose nonsense.”
Dr. Simon says the only cure for narcissism like what Smollett seems to show is for them to be “totally defeated.”
“But these folks rarely cave,” he said. “They have a total abhorrence of giving into anything they see as bigger than themselves.”