Narcissism & Donald II
In my blog Narcissism & Donald I wrote about Donald Trump’s personality disorder, using the general description of narcissism utilised by psychologists such as Erich Fromm. That post was written during the election campaign, so, now that the man is president, what changes or other factors can we observe in this intensely narcissistic person? And what about the minions surrounding him?
Within two days of the inauguration things were pretty much as expected. Despite photographic proof that anybody living in the real world could see and check, the president decided that his fantasy version of the day’s events was the truth of the matter. As a consequence, the ‘war’ between him and his team and the media continues. This inability to live in the real world is absolutely typical of the narcissist. All of reality is filtered through the president’s narcissism. It doesn’t matter what happens in the real world – all he has to do is state what he believes, or wants, and all will be well. But not only will all be well for him. Trump believes that as a direct consequence of this all will be well for the world.
Equally as worrying is the craven, idiotic stance of some of his supporters. Challenged by presenter Chuck Todd on NBC – who asked her why press secretary Sean Spicer’s first appearance had been to “utter a probable falsehood” – Kellyanne Conway answered that she had during Todd’s interview been presenting “alternative facts.” “Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods,” Todd replied. To those used to living in the real world the mere notion of ‘alternative facts’ is laughable; but the president and his supporters don’t live in the real world.
Many have remarked on Donald Trump’s thin skin, but this again is exactly what we would expect of a narcissist. With a personality so fragile it is held together only by vastly inflated self-aggrandisement, just one criticism is required to make a puncture. The narcissist’s response is to attack and deny, thereby returning the sense of self-worth to its former level. This, in more structured form, is why narcissists are always vengeful people. Revenge is re-balancing. Revenge negates ‘insult’ or ‘criticism’ by returning self-worth to its former value.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Donald Trump’s victory is that it will massively confirm his fantasy that everything he does is correct, true and worthy. When narcissists fail in the real world – as they inevitably do, since they have no grasp of that world – they react with rage. The new president will do exactly this as the weeks and months go by. But when through chance or design they do succeed it adds to the imaginary sense that they are the centre of the world – even its raison d’être. The classic example of this is Napoleon (to whom the new president is remarkably similar.) When Napoleon succeeded, it was, he said, because of his Destiny. When he failed, he mentally collapsed or went into a fury.
It’s intriguing to ponder how all this might end. Like many commentators, I don’t think Donald Trump will last four years. There are various options. Like Stalin, he might end his presidency in a haze of imaginary plots and conspiracies – I think this is the most likely outcome. Some of these plots of course may be based in real events. Or like Hitler he might end it in utter self-destruction, taking America down with him. Possibly that might happen when the Trump/Putin relationship deteriorates, as it is sure to do. Or, like Napoleon, he might simply be out-manoeuvred by superior forces. I think this is also likely, with those ‘superior forces’ being those in the Republican Party who see Trump for what he is.
All hail President Pence!