I think it’s pretty safe to say Donald Trump has a very malignant case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and appears to fit all of its psychiatric criteria. Unfortunately, he’s only the tip of the iceberg, merely a symptom of America’s soul-sickness.
Trump has surrounded himself with a staff of other Dark Triad or Cluster B personality-disordered types. Congress and the Senate are also populated by people who appear to have no conscience or empathy, and only feel entitled to take from others to enrich themselves. Many of them appear to have antisocial or psychopathic personalities.
Narcissists like Trump become codependent and simpering in the hands of psychopaths, because of their emotional neediness. Vladimir Putin appears to using him to achieve his own nefarious ends of world domination or at least the destruction of western democracy. Trump, being a narcissist and therefore far more emotionally fragile than Putin, doesn’t realize he’s only being used and exploited.
I could go for pages speculating about the psychology of Trump, his enablers, and those who are using him for their own ends (and many have), and I feel pretty confident saying that almost his entire administration is made up of sociopathic and codependent types, the latter of which have mostly already left or been fired (Reince Preibus and Sean Spicer seemed more codependent to me than personality-disordered themselves).
I don’t see any obvious Borderlines in the Trump administration, although Trump himself appears to have a few Borderline or Histrionic traits. As far as I can tell, Trump is the only obvious case of NPD. The rest seem more like people with ASPD or psychopathy to me, seemingly emotionless and willing to use and enable Trump for their own ends.
How Trump brings out the worst in everyone.
Authoritarianism and racism are highly correlated with antisocial and narcissistic personalities, and we saw the worst of society become violent at the KKK rally and protest in Charlottesville, Virginia today. The undercurrent of hatred in this country runs deep, and our election of a black president in 2008 and 2012 did nothing to quell it — if anything, the hatred and racism that were always lurking beneath the surface became even deeper and more toxic than at any time since the Jim Crow days.
America is a sick country and only a sick country would elect a malignant narcissist for its president and psychopathic or antisocial people for high political positions. Trump isn’t the problem, since the problem would still be there whether or not he was president. He is the ugly symptom, and is now bringing all the darkness out in the open. We are finally seeing how deep this cancer runs and hoping against hope it hasn’t reached Stage Four.
In some ways this is a good thing, since now we can see exactly how sick our nation has become and how deep and dark the divisions between us really are. But Trump also has a way of bringing out the worst traits in everyone he comes in contact with, even indirectly — in his administration, in his supporters, in his enemies, and in his opponents. Even though I’ve never met the man, whenever he’s on TV I feel as if all the oxygen has been sucked out the room. He’s everywhere. You can’t get away from him.
Trump enables his cabinet members and sycophants in their lack of empathy, lack of conscience, and crass greed and selfishness. They use him for their own ends and they know he will never call them out if they just keep on flattering him and giving him the praise he wants.
Trump brings out the worst in his staff. He causes drama and chaos whenever his bottomless need for admiration and approval isn’t met — he will attack, devalue or discard whoever he believes isn’t giving him the approval he craves, even those who could benefit him. He always has a scapegoat, always — even among those who have been loyal to him, like Mitch McConnell or Jeff Sessions. Never in my life have I seen a White House so filled with drama and discord. Even the Nixon administration at the height of Watergate seemed like a sanctuary of sanity in comparison. Trump brings out the very worst in his staff, while anyone with a semblance of a conscience or a soul left has already resigned or been fired.
Trump brings out the worst in his supporters. He enables them to display their authoritarianism, racism, hatred, and ignorance — even to the point of violence, as we see happening today in Charlottesville. On social media, the rhetoric of his supporters has become increasingly hate-filled and ugly, to the point of threatening non-supporters with terrorism and even civil war against them. Trump appears complicit in all this, and acts as if it isn’t happening.
Trump brings out the worst in his non-supporters. Many people are suffering from PTSD or even C-PTSD that has been retriggered by his constant gaslighting, projection, threats, need for revenge, and denial of the truth. Depression, despair, feelings of dissociation and unreality, and dread are problems for many Americans right now, and therapists even have a name for it: Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder (TTSD). Anger is also being triggered in his non-supporters, though not in quite the same way as in his supporters. Righteous anger differs from hatred, and it may be the only good thing he’s bringing about. He’s forcing his opponents to expose the truth about what has happened in our country over the past few decades and demanding that we change course — drastically, if necessary.
I was involved in a discussion on Twitter about Trump’s fragile ego, and we agreed that he seems to be a collapsed narcissist, who knows it’s only a matter of time before the whole house of cards comes toppling down and he’s exposed, even to many of his supporters, as the criminal and fraud he really is. As he grows more desperate, he increases the volume on his endless demands for admiration and approval, holding more hatred-enabling rallies and even threatening nuclear war over a perceived insult from North Korea’s equally unhinged leader. That’s how bottomless Trump’s emotional void is: that he would be willing to send millions of people to their deaths — even the entire planet — just to save his fragile ego. It doesn’t help that many far-right religious leaders are stroking his ego even more by telling him he’s been anointed by God.
We can never begin to think of what he’s doing is normal, because it’s anything but.
That’s the sound of your soul being sucked into oblivion.