Is Trump a narcissist?

In the last few days, as America teetered on the brink of social meltdown, Joe Biden made a speech rounding on the President and suggesting his “narcissism” as a reason for Trump’s penchant for creating division. Narcissists get such a bad press and I have often wonder if they are over represented in political classes. Yet most of us, including Joe Biden, don’t really appreciate or understand what a narcissist is. They are much more complex and infinitely more interesting than the stereotype of someone pathetically and obsessively in love with themselves. Someone, in my social circle for over 30 years, a pompous, irritating, self-opinionated git at the best of times, annoyed me so much recently that I vowed never be in his company again and when I confided this to another friend she suggested if I really wanted to understand him, and my emotions towards him, I should read about narcissism. I found a fascinating subject particularly its toxic manifestation Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

We are all, to some degree, narcissistic, indeed it’s a necessary bulwark for our self-esteem, so important in grounding our security in what is a very unpredictable and dangerous world. Within the population there is a normal distribution of narcissistic traits, some have very little and that in itself can bring its own challenges as they see themselves as useless and inconsequential. At the other end of this spectrum are those who are so narcissistic – the ones psychologist diagnosed with NPD – that it impedes them socially, ethically and morally and, ironically, even when they know they have a problem, it stops them seeking help and making the changes they need. It is said that narcissists don’t learn from their mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting they have made one. Remind you of anyone? Those who populate the wedge at the lower right-hand side of the normal distribution curve can be downright evil; think Adolph Hitler, Anders Breivik and Jimmy Savile.

Three main characteristics define the narcissistic personality; exploitation of others, entitlement and lack of empathy. Oh dear, there we all are to a degree but the narcissist suffers particularly from grandiosity and has such a confidence of his superiority and an expectation of special treatment often asking when denied “Do you not know who I am?” And where we can all deal with and forgive some pomposity the narcissist will continue to demean, sully and belittle others in their grab for their God given right to be better than the rest. So they shamelessly use others for personal gain and after using and abusing can often callously move on with no real sense of the impact their actions. Power and success is their fantasy copper-fastened by a perception of unique superiority and off course their elite status. They have a need for continued admiration for their deeds and achievements. They are viciously envious of others and will for example spend excessively to impress that they are indeed better than the rest.

The experts are unclear how narcissists got this way they are. What is it in their genes or in their nurture that created these monsters? A plausible theory suggests attachment insecurity in childhood; they have no one they can trust so they become the hero of their life journey, only they can succeed and to do this they exaggerate their skills and accomplishments. They are totally self-absorbed, hogging the conversation and opting out if it’s not about them. They can be violently intolerant of anyone with a contradictory view. Interestingly, they are well known for keeping themselves to themselves and this is because if they spend too much time in the same company they might be found out as a key to their thinking is, they must avoid humiliation at all costs. Some psychologists suggest that in childhood the narcissist suffered a painful humiliation at the hands of someone they really trusted.

In my readings I came across a questionnaire developed by a clinical psychologist and on answering a series of questions produces a personal score. Scores range from zero to 40 where zero is not an ounce of narcissism and 40 is up there with O.J. Simpson and Rodrigo Duterte. I wouldn’t recommend doing this questionnaire as I scored 36 so it’s clearly rubbish.

Donald Trump – Caricature” by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY

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