To avoid political suicide, the GOP must allow delegates to choose another candidate
The Mayo Clinic describes narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) thusly:
“If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement – and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry.
Certainly, many of us can readily see that Donald Trump exhibits these characteristics. But we are lay observers; what have the experts said? Last November, Vanity Fair published the opinions of several mental health professionals on Mr. Trump’s mental state.
“‘Remarkably narcissistic,’ said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. ‘Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,’ echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. ‘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,’ said clinical psychologist George Simon.
The following article is not a professional diagnosis, but it does offer a rational explanation for his odd behavior.
Control problems are common with NPD
There is at least one symptom of NPD, above all, that is incompatible with the presidency. As the most powerful individual on the planet, a president needs to have unshakeable self-control – but that’s something a narcissist is incapable of having, in certain situations.
Trump’s oft-bragged-about “punching back ten times harder,” is explained by this comment of Alexander Burgemeester, a neuro-psychologist writing in TheNarcissistLife.com:
“A narcissist…is unable to handle criticism or perceived ‘attacks’ on his self-worth. They often become angry … and typically lash out in revenge…. Narcissists need constant admiration, attention and compliments.…Therefore, any challenge, mildly negative remark, or disagreement from another person is considered criticism, rejection and even mockery. They take these personally … and lash out at the person who provoked them…. The fuming rage the narcissist feels is different from the anger that people usually feel; it is either irrational or severely blown out of proportion from an insignificant remark or action.”
NPD certainly seems to be at play in Trump’s war on federal Judge Curiel, who is hearing the Trump University case – a saga that becomes more extreme by the day. Trump renewed his attacks on the Judge Friday, saying:
“I have had horrible rulings, I have been treated unfairly by this judge,” Trump said. “Now this judge is of Mexican heritage, I’m building a wall. [The judge was born in Indiana, of Mexican parents.]
“He’s a member of a society, where you know, very pro-Mexico and that’s fine, it’s all fine,” Trump continued. “But I think he could recuse himself.” Notably, as of this writing DT has not filed a motion for the judge to recuse himself.
Speaker Paul Ryan, who caved and endorsed Trump Thursday, was compelled to denounce what DT had said Friday. Trump’s remarks were “out of left field,” said Ryan, “He clearly says and does things I don’t agree with, and I’ve had to speak up … when that has occurred, and I’ll continue to do that if it’s necessary. I hope it’s not.”
Ryan had better get used to it: This behavior is not spontaneous, and not “telling it like it is”; it’s more likely a trait of NPD.
The latest news is a bizarre conference call between Trump and his “surrogates” has been reported. Those on the call were not all listed, but among them were: Pam Bondi, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, and former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. But there were others, including two who leaked the call’s contents.
Trump called on his high-profile surrogates to “defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry,” during a conference call on Monday… he ordered them to question the judge’s credibility and impugn reporters as racists,” reported Bloomberg News.
“A clearly irritated Trump told his supporters to attack journalists who ask questions about the lawsuit and his comments about the judge.
“The people asking the questions—those are the racists,’ Trump said. ‘I would go at ’em.'”
“When Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff, saying:
“Take that order and throw it the hell out.’…. That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.'”
“I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is.”
More than just a manic episode, this Trump action is an attack on the judiciary, raising “questions of how he would treat the constitutionally enshrined separation of powers,” said Gerald F. Seib in the Wall Street Journal.
Seen as a monumental blunder, or (inaccurately) a sign of his own racism, this beyond-the-pale response was more likely an uncontrollable manifestation of NPD.
Oddly, Trump’s supporters are not turned off by these characteristics, they are attracted to them.
Trump “tells it like it is”
His followers love that Donald Trump is spontaneous and “tells it like it is” by insulting people, calling them names and utterly ignoring political correctness.
A case in point: his verbal assault on New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, the first Latina governor, because she refused to endorse him. It included lie-laden smears of her performance in office. This act was destructive to the GOP, which needs the Hispanic vote, as does Trump himself.
A president often has to face probing, sometimes unfair questions from the press. In a recent bizarre and decidedly un-presidential press conference, Trump belittled reporters who questioned the disbursement of funds he promised to raise for veterans, labeling the Press “dishonest” and “not good people.” He called ABC News’s Tom Llamas “a sleaze” and CNN’s Jim Acosta “a real beauty.” When asked if he would exhibit the same behavior as president, he replied:
“Yeah, it is going to be like this. You think I’m gonna change? I’m not gonna change.”
It’s easy for narcissists to insult other people, when it serves to inflate their own value. “Lack of empathy is a quintessential hallmark of people with narcissistic personality disorder. They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings of others, especially if they conflict with their own.” — TheNarcissisticLife.com
Many Republicans admire Trump’s beating up of the press after years of often one-sided press criticism of Republicans, while giving a pass to President Obama. But, take care what you wish for: Republicans can cross the line also, and it’s the press’s constitutional duty to check the president, if he does. It’s also notable that Trump has promised to “open up the libel laws,” to make it easier to sue for inaccurate reporting. But there is no such federal law – only the First Amendment.
Trump is confident and tough
One of the chief reasons Trumpbots revere him is his supreme confidence that he can solve all of America’s problems, that he is tough and will defend our country against the encroachments of other nations. Unfortunately, this confidence doesn’t predict success; it is probably just a pose typical of narcissism.
The Mayo Clinic tells us:
“Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal…. Symptoms may include: Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional and setting unrealistic goals.”
Many who should know better take all Trump’s policy statements seriously. His bravado gives the impression that he can easily accomplish all his promises, but in truth, he has no special skills for running a country; in fact, he lacks the knowledge that several of the other candidates had. For example, his notion that we could have “taken the oil,” in Iraq, is nonsensical. How would we do that? Suck it all out of the ground and ship it back to U.S. refineries? He also has said “Maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS, let them fight and then you pick up the remnants.”
That second absurdity was quoted by Hillary Clinton in a speech deriding Trump’s perilously loose grasp of foreign policy. She also mocked Trump for suggesting he would allow Japan to go nuclear, to defend itself against North Korea: “[He] said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – ‘If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.’” She added, “I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.”
His inane statements allowed Hillary Clinton to cast him as recklessly uninformed, and allowed her to blur her truly awful record in Libya and Syria.
Trump has the endorsement of important people
How have noted conservatives – Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Herman Cain, Ben Carson, Gov. Jan Brewer, Newt Gingrich – been recruited by DT to serve his self-glorification machine? Unfortunately, using people is a common tactic of NPD:
“The narcissist (especially ‘high-level narcissists’ who are very successful in the world) is skilled at faux empathy or what some call pseudo-empathy. ‘The socially gifted narcissist is an expert at convincing others that he/she cares deeply about them. Pseudo empathy is exquisitely designed by the narcissist to manipulate others so they will fulfill his narcissistic needs.’” —Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
This may explain Carson’s curious statement that “There are two different Donald Trumps.” In a weird press conference, Carson also said “there was ‘a lot more alignment philosophically and spiritually than I ever thought there was’ between him and Trump.”
“Narcissists take advantage of other people, using them or exploiting them to meet their own needs…. He seeks intelligent, highly motivated people that he can delegate most of the work to and then turn around and take the whole credit himself.” —TheNarcissistLife.com
Note, as described above, how Trump has drawn his GOP backers into the clearly irrational assault on federal Judge Curiel. Their interviews are now consumed with demands for comment on Trump’s latest attacks on the judge. Responding to questions in a presser today, Paul Ryan had to say:
“Claiming someone cannot do their job because of their race is a textbook racist comment.”
Newt Gingrich told John Gibson yesterday that he is still “very supportive” of Trump, but:
“It was one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. Inexcusable,” Said Gingrich, adding that in America, “we don’t judge you as part of a group” and “once you go down that road you destroy America.”
After endorsing the Don, Marco Rubio was interviewed by WFTV reporter Christopher Heath. Quoted in a tweet by Heath, Rubio said this:
“I don’t defend what he says.” “I ran for president & warned you this is what was going to happen.”
Other Trump traits, ignored by Trumpbots, are common narcissist tactics
The narcissist says something and then denies saying it or claims to have said something when he really didn’t.
“The narcissist is skillfully deceptive and very convincing. Avoids accountability by diverting topics, dodging questions, and making up new lies, bluffs or threats when questioned. His memory is self-serving as he denies past statements.” — Dr. Irene’s Verbal Abuse Site
Narcissists rarely apologize
“[The narcissist] has a diminished capacity to emphasize so he rarely feels sorry for what he does. He almost never puts himself in the shoes of his “victims”. Actually, he doesn’t regard them as victims at all! It is very common for the narcissist to feel victimized, deprived and discriminated against. He projects his own moods, cognitions, emotions, and actions onto others.” —Sam Vaknin, PhD
This concludes our lay study. Under the pressure of the general campaign, we can expect Mr. Trump to continue – even intensify his irrational attacks on those who have slighted him . But there is still time for convention delegates to choose another candidate, and the RNC must allow them to do so.
Disruptive as this may be in the short run, it is preferable to losing the White House, the Senate, maybe even the House. If Trump should win, his policies are – at best – an unknown, given his shape-shifting policy statements. But his personality traits will very likely remain, backed by the power of the presidency.
The GOP owes us, after two failures, a viable candidate in 2016. Tell them so: firstname.lastname@example.org