A defense psychiatrist testified in the kidnaping trial of Glenn I. Wright yesterday that Wright was mentally ill last July when he allegedly masterminded the abduction of the wife of a multimillionaire businessman from a Washington hotel.

Dr. Bernardo Hirschman of Fairfax County testified that Wright, 42, of Houston, suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder that left him believing that society must pay for earlier setbacks in Wright's life.

Hirschman said Wright also thought wealthy businessman George Rosenkranz, husband of kidnaping victim Edith Rosenkranz, was a "nice man" who would pay Wright money once his needs became known. "Once the delusional quality came into his mind," Bernardo testified, "then he as well as his victims were at the mercy of that situation."

Wright and codefendant Dennis Moss, 26, also of Houston, are on trial in U.S. District Court for the abduction of Edith Rosenkranz from the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Rosenkranz was released unharmed after her husband paid a $1 million ransom, which the FBI recovered.

Federal prosecutors have contended that Wright is mentally competent.

Hirschman and a second defense witness, Terry Peterson, 39, a longtime friend of Wright's, depicted Wright yesterday as a man of superior intellect who grew up frustrated and enraged by his inability to succeed in business or in a once-promising career as a concert pianist.

Hirschman testified that Wright was considering suicide late last year after a series of setbacks, including the death of his mother, the murder of Wright's homosexual lover and increasing financial difficulties.

Wright irrationally seized on the kidnap plan as "a way out" of his mounting psychological pressures, Hirschman testified.

Hirschman said Wright's mental problems were rooted in a home life in which his parents, both teachers, did not get along. Wright was "continually humiliated" and "sexually harassed" by his father, Hirschman said.

The death early last year of Wright's lover, Tony Ivey, 23, in a still unsolved homicide, "diminished his very poor emotional control," the psychiatrist testified.

Hirschman also noted several times during his testimony that doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital -- where Wright has been confined since his arrest -- have determined through psychological testing that Wright's emotional development was arrested when he was 3 years old.

Yesterday's testimony could prove beneficial to Wright's codefendant, Moss, who is expected to testify this week that he took part in the kidnaping because he was afraid of Wright.

Asked about Wright's enraged emotional state by Moss' lawyer, Thomas Abbenante, Hirschman testified that during a recent interview with Wright at St. Elizabeths, "I saw signs that I was sitting next to a volcano getting ready to erupt."

Hirschman also testified that Wright described the scene of Ivey's murder to him twice in "gory, vivid detail." Abbenante said last week in court that Wright threatened Moss by saying that he could get away with killing Moss "the same way he got away with the other murder."

Under questioning by prosecutor Pamela B. Stuart, Hirschman acknowledged that Wright had tried to convince him at St. Elizabeths that he was a paranoid schizophrenic, a diagnosis Hirschman said he disagreed with.