Several people have said that he has a narcissistic personality disorder. Donald Trump, that is. Some think it’s the “malignant” variety.
I have had (serious) reasons to look into this condition in recent years and think about it. (Nothing to do with Trump. I also took a few simple online tests to see if I might have a trace of that disorder myself, just in case. No. That was not surprising, but hey, I could have been wrong.)
No, I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic and no, I have never met Trump, and no, I can’t say for certain what is the matter with him, of course, but narcissistic personality disorder does seem to tick a few boxes.
I used to have at least one of his (apparently heavily ghost-written) books. When I later started following him on Facebook, I was astonished to see what kept him occupied and I grew bored with his incessant comments about Rosie O’Donnell and the like. I was stunned when a few years after that, he won the US elections.
Not all narcissists are bad people. Some even work very hard at being the best – most decent – people they can be. Some are actually quite nice people, underneath the disorder, and once you start understanding the disorder, it becomes easier to avoid “triggering” them (depending on the severity of the disorder) and to stop being angry with them (getting triggered by them).
You certainly can’t blame them for having this disorder. It is not the result of a choice they made, but caused by genetics or by extreme neglect or excessive spoiling in early childhood. Not all variants of the disorder are as severe as Trump’s may be.
Narcissists have an internal disconnect. This internal disconnect seems to work somewhat as follows.
There is one side that comes across as extreme confidence (or arrogance). There is an inflated self-image filled with superlatives. This is what can make them so successful, certainly if they also happen to be very talented in one or more areas. This is the Trump “train” that overrides everybody else’s concerns.
The other side of them is extremely insecure and needs to be reassured all the time. (This side often remains very well hidden, by the way, to the casual observer.)
I suspect that these two sides reinforce each other, somehow, or support each other. The disconnect is not complete, but the disconnect does mean that narcissists have a limited understanding of themselves.
Some also seem to display an extreme focus on the here and now at times. I think we see that with Trump when he says things that contradict what he said the day or week before. The things he says often make little sense to the rest of us, but they make sense to him in that particular moment.
I also think that when Donald Trump said he saw huge masses during his inauguration, he wasn’t actually lying to us. He is not blind, so his brain and his insecure side undoubtedly noticed how few people there were. He cannot not have noticed that. It’s physically impossible (unless someone fed him tons of fake news, with images from a different inauguration – and that idea is way too far-fetched to be true).
As that did not gel with the other side of him, his inflated self-image, the only solution for him was to tell himself that the crowds were immense.
I think we’ve also seen the insecure side of him, namely when he we saw him look over, with suspicion, to check if his wife was really voting for him.
You see it in the above image as well. He has the need to lecture us, explain things to us and to show us how intelligent and well-informed he is, but out comes this childlike gibberish. I checked it. He really said that, yes. If you are isolated and rarely speak with people, yes, then it may be hard to create beautiful sentences when you speak, but Trump is not a recluse in the middle of the desert and the language he used also conveys a lack of understanding of what uranium is. That was bound to make him feel uncomfortable. It somehow sounds as if he was actually talking to himself…
Our tendency is to expect this man to behave and function like the rest of us. We want to tell him how stupid he is that he cannot see the things that are right in front of him, we cannot believe that he seems to be telling us lie after lie after lie. They are such blatant lies, however, that they clearly have nothing to do with intellect or normal logical reasoning.
Again, these are the lies he tells himself, often lies in which he has to believe to preserve his own self-image, and they are also extremely spur-of-the-moment, childlike actions and utterances to do with that narrow focus.
He surrounds himself with people who support that hero image of himself and as soon as a person ticks him off, that person is likely pushed “out” soon (but it depends; there is the need to see a positive image of himself reflected around him but there is also a need to cling to people). His Twitter feed follows only a few accounts that support his self-image.
As long as narcissists get tons and tons of positive feedback, they can function well. It’s criticism that they have a problem with.
It’s incredibly sad that the American electoral system is so flawed that Donald Trump was able to get into the White House. Unfortunately, remedying this severe flaw would require each individual state to carry out an amendment to be able to implement the required changes, so I understand. I haven’t heard any news that indicates that there are plans in that direction.
Without going into more specifics – speculation – about narcissistic personality disorder, I do think that the fact that he seems to have this disorder means that he can be made to step down.
He does not enjoy being president. Different rules apply now that he’s in the Oval Office relative to when he was merely in business and on TV. He thought he would be an absolute ruler and found out the hard way that now there are courts and judges and many others to whom he can’t instantly say “you’re fired!” when they don’t do what he wants.
He is also getting a lot of negative feedback that his boisterous side will deny categorically, but that his brain cannot help noticing and feeds into his insecure side.
I think that if we flood him massively with the message to step down – although I am not sure if that should be one consistent message or just massive negative feedback – he will become so uncomfortable that he will have to do something “magnanimous” and “heroic” to preserve his self-image.
(Alternatively, he may then drive himself “into the ground” as a result of it really angering him. Keep in mind that he generally believes that other people are exactly like him. That’s the mirroring aspect, and you can imagine how confusing that must be for someone like that, with these two sides. He also may have a tendency to respond with the same attitude as he encounters. I don’t know if that is a deliberate strategy or an automatic trait of the affliction.
What he is looking for, as surprising as it may sound, is unconditional love – and everything that clashes with that stresses him out, but will also often make him lash out. It is not necessarily about getting that unconditional love, however.)
He is likely aware that he has the condition, by the way. If he has it.
As an excuse to resign, he may come up with severe illness for his wife or one of his children. Some factory deal that supposedly will bring millions of jobs to a city or state won’t do it because he is already claiming that kind of thing and it would not offer him a “safe retreat”.
I really think we need to flood him massively and incessantly with negative feedback he cannot miss, that his senses cannot miss. Banners all over cities, newspapers plastered with big headlines, chants wherever he goes. No letters, because his aides will open those.
Step down from the US presidency, Donald Trump.
The threat of impeachment is helping. He won’t – can’t – let it get to that point. The idea that a committee may be formed to assess his mental health on a monthly basis surely has not escaped him either. The fact that right now, he chooses to go on a CAMPAIGN RALLY – WTF? – and won’t attend the Kennedy Center Honors event seems to indicate that he feels threatened and is only focusing on preserving his self-image.
He wants to be applauded, have masses of people cheer around him, and if he can cause some trouble in the process, it will make him feel better, because he will likely regard that as proper “punishment” for those who don’t support him. This may also be the reason why he does childish things such as interfere with the plastic bottle ban in National Parks.
When he was not in office yet, he spoke in support of Joe Arpaio and that was one of those many instances in which he made clear that the main thing that counts for Donald Trump is whether someone supports him or not, believes in him or not. And all of that is crumbling hard all around him.
(Thing is… if he does not step down, then someone somewhere will be unable to keep his hands in his pockets and do what that Missouri senator said she hoped would happen, which I won’t repeat here. And then we might have a sudden eruption of pockets of trouble that could be unmanageable and unpredictable. I’d like to see that prevented along with other harms that may occur if he stays in the White House much longer.)
Another positive effect would be that those who feel bolstered by his presidency (such as perhaps Theresa May, Marine LePen, Geert Wilders and Nigel Farage) will also lose some ground.
For the record: This post is not about how to deal with narcissists. This post is about how to deal with Donald Trump, a man who is doing a heck of a lot of damage from the Oval Office and who is in a position to do a heck of a lot more damage.
Of course, it is quite possible that all of the above is complete hogwash. Does anyone have any better solutions?
The above clip may support the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
As more and more people are saying that Trump should resign, such as Al Gore, maybe it will happen, but as I explained, I think he will need a good enough excuse that allows him to do that.
I felt that there was very little I could do from where I am sitting, but I can e-mail and message people and let them know that many many people around the world support them in their justifiable resistance against Donald Trump.
About a century ago, we had a somewhat similar guy here in Europe. Now, thanks to the internet, none of us have the excuse that we aren’t aware what is happening. This means that we all have a personal responsibility to do what we can, even if it feels like it’s only very little.