Narcissism is increasing in our society; enhanced by social media, we more frequently tend to focus on “me” rather than “we”.
As a symbol of life in the selfie nation, there can be no better poster child for narcissism than “The Donald”.
True to his nature, Trump has been hogging headlines recently. In his quest for the limelight (which is more about Donald’s need for attention and admiration than helping the nation or the Republicans), Donald has been tapping into our own unexpressed longing to gain control and have power in a world fraught with peril.
But the reality behind the false self of the narcissist is that all the bluster is simply a defense mechanism against a wounded and disenfranchised inner self.
By pinning our hopes and dreams on The Donald, we as a nation are engaging in a delusion or a defense against our fear of being inconsequential and powerless.
So what is a narcissist? Is Donald Trump a narcissist?
According to the Diagnostical & Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, there are nine clinical symptoms, but to be given the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder you only need five.
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Is Donald Trump a narcissist? It appears that Donald manifests all nine and maybe a few more that haven’t made the DSM, like intolerance of criticism and sexism.
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance
3. Believes that he is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Has a very strong sense of entitlement
6. Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
9. Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
According to quote’s Collected by Randi Kreger for her Psychology Today article on Donald Trump, several psychologists weigh in:
said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics…Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.
said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior.
He’s very easy to diagnose. In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He’ll do anything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. ‘You’re fired!’ would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants.
said psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan.
In any case, these are the clinical nine and the prognosis for fixing them is highly unlikely because the narcissist thinks he is just great and everyone else is jealous.
Maureen Dowd captures the Narcissist’s ability to deflect criticisms and concerns beautifully in her NY Times piece while interviewing The Donald himself:
So, I ask him, couldn’t people manipulate you based on your ego? Given that you get easily swayed by what people say about you, pro and con, wouldn’t you be malleable?
“I am malleable,” Trump said, taking it as a compliment, more like I’ve called him flexible. He sounds sleepy, calling at 7 a.m. Friday from his Versailles-like Fifth Avenue penthouse, where he went for a nap after his veterans event here Thursday night, before returning to New Hampshire and Iowa. He is still so new at politics that he coyly uses the phrase “being on the trail, as they say.”
He says about his chances in Iowa that he’s a good “closer”: “Even in golf, I’ve won a lot of club championships that way. Closing is not an easy thing.”
He rejects the idea that he’s too easily swayed by compliments or slights, too easily prone to pouts and feuds.
Why does “The Donald” keep us coming back for more?
Has there been a shift in our collective mentality? Could it be an underlying fear that maybe the USA is not the world power we think it is and somehow we are longing for greatness, the kind of greatness that only Hollywood can deliver?
Even if we can relate to some of his over stated beliefs, Trump may be incapable of taking into account the thoughts, feelings and needs of his party and the voters; it will always be about him. As President, he would likely surround himself with yes men and so disenfranchise our nation further from the rest of the world.
But to give credit where it is due, Trump has shed light on what we are lacking in our current economy and culture. The Donald is self-made so he incorporates the hopes and dreams of the very people he denigrates, immigrants who come to America for a better life.
And he has offered us the holy grail of seeing America as a super power something that the Obama administration has been unable to deliver.
This is the very reason a Narcissist like Donald Trump can be so very, very tantalizing to us, like Homer’s Sirens.
Why we should resist a narcissist’s undeniable charms
Yes, the Donald can succeed in the business world where the boundaries are always drawn in the interest of profits and shareholders but never in the interest of altruism or the greater good.
But by pinning our hopes on the grandiose image that Donald projects, we as a nation are engaging in our own self deception as a defense against our fears.
When we look back to the leaders who have succeeded, there is always a focus on the greater good and the bigger picture, there is an ability to create a consensus and a team spirit.
The risk of electing a Narcissist means we embrace the agenda of a person whose need for power and control could create divisions within America’s pluralistic society and within the world.