We need a lot more awareness about narcissism and psychopathy.

Originally posted on January 28, 2018.   Comments are welcome.

Lucky Otters Haven

darktriad

Elizabeth Mika is one of the 27 mental health professionals who contributed to the  bestselling book,  The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.   She is a psychologist who writes about narcissism, psychopathy and authoritarianism (specifically Donald Trump’s authoritarianism) on her Medium blog.  I follow her on Twitter (she’s under @yourauntemma if you want to follow her too) because I never want to miss one of her articles.    The other day, she tweeted this in reference to the many pleas to “remember the Holocaust”:

Unless we teach about the conscience-impairing character defects, like psychopathy & narcissism, shared by genocidal leaders & their followers, these calls for remembrance will remain hollow.

She’s absolutely right.   Even though the Cluster B personality disorders, specifically those in the Dark Triad — Narcissistic Personality Disorder, psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder), and malignant narcissism (a combination of both disorders with paranoid traits)  — are getting…

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Trump’s strange behavior at G20 summit is a window into his current state of mind.

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An example of narcissistic projection.  Blame others for what you are guilty of, even when there’s no proof.

 

Some of you may remember Trump’s overconfident, even arrogant and obnoxious alpha- male behavior at last year’s G20 summit in Germany and other events where he had to mingle with world leaders:  arrogantly pushing aside Montenegro’s president so he could get to the front of the group, the childish refusal to shake Angela Merkel’s hand, his standoffishness, and other gestures and comments indicating his contempt and disregard for the the leaders of western democracies.   I could go on with examples but that would take too long and it’s not my point in this post anyway.

Trump is under enormous stress right now, due to recent events that don’t bode well for his future in politics or even his freedom:  Mueller and his team are beginning to move closer to Trump’s inner circle, his longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen has turned against him and admitted he lied under oath (and telling Mueller everything he knows).   Perhaps most ominously, in just over a month, the new Democratic Congress, headed by the very competent and confident Nancy Pelosi, takes over, bringing much needed checks and balances back into government.  These Democrats can and will hold Trump accountable for his crimes and unethical and cruel policies, and Trump knows it.   The party’s almost over.

For perhaps the first time in his 72 years, this overgrown spoiled brat who has always gotten his own way and never been held accountable for anything in his life, will finally be made to answer for his illegal and immoral mob boss ways, and Trump isn’t pleased.    In fact, right now he’s feeling pretty shaky and insecure.   He’s not even able, at the moment, to mask his insecurity with his usual false arrogance and bluster.  He’s emotionally deflated and terrified of what his future holds,  and his mental state shows in his odd behavior at this year’s G20 summit.    He seems more like a frightened little boy about to be sent to his room and denied his favorite TV show than the fearsome dictator he aspires to be (or thinks he already is).

I had noticed on several occasions that Trump only looked truly happy when he was hobnobbing with vicious dictators like Putin, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.   I’ve never seen him smile like he is in the picture below (either Putin or MBS was approaching, though I can’t recall which one) with any leaders of western democracies.  (In fact, he always seems downright uncomfortable with them and is very critical of them).   This is one of the only genuine looking smiles I’ve ever seen from Trump.

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Here’s another of him in the private (closed off to the press) meeting that took place in the Oval Office last year with Russian oligarchs.  He looks genuinely happy.

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So, it doesn’t help Trump’s fragile ego that his despotic buddies (and objects of his childlike hero worship) Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) appear to be shunning Trump like a couple of catty middle school girls at the G20 summit this year.

Watch this incredible video of Putin and MBS sharing a moment of laughter and high fiving each other as Trump comes lumbering into the room from behind.    Trump must be painfully aware that these two despots have never smiled or laughed with Trump the way they do here with each other.  Deep down,  Trump must know that he is not as well regarded or well liked by these two as they like and regard each other.    But  as they are very likely pure psychopaths rather than mere malignant narcissists like Trump, they would naturally have more in common with each other, both of them being free of that pesky emotional fragility and hypersensitivity to criticism that people with NPD are always saddled with.   As pure psychopaths, they don’t care what other people think of them: they just do what they want.   Although Trump shares their lack of conscience and empathy, he also cares very much what people  think of him, especially those who (like Putin and MBS) are useful to him.

Trump definitely sees them, and his jealousy of their bond is as obvious as his orange tinted spray tan.  Here’s a closeup screenshot someone took of Trump’s face during the exchange.  If looks could kill!

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Although I’m not a mental health professional and can’t make a diagnosis, most mental health professionals agree that Trump almost certainly has all 9 DSM criteria for  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and fits most of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder).   When a person has both NPD and ASPD (sociopathy), they are considered to be malignant narcissists.  Malignant narcissism, a term first coined by psychologist Erich Fromm back in the 1960s, isn’t a clinically accepted medical term, but it’s well known in the narcissistic abuse community (and now, due to Trump, is becoming known outside of that community and is practically a household word, much like the term gaslighting has recently become a term most “lay” people know the meaning of, because Trump and his followers do it so constantly).

NPD causes a profound lack of empathy that often manifests as social awkwardness. This causes even some professionals to initially mistake people with NPD as being on the autism spectrum.  Some narcissists can fake empathy, but Trump isn’t one of them. While his inability to fake empathy may actually be a saving grace for the country and the world (Trump’s poor acting ability makes his disorder more obvious and therefore he is less dangerous than someone who can hide behind a mask of fake compassion and kindness).

As a result, Trump often shuns social events that require him to show empathy, or camaraderie with others.   Like all narcissists, he is terrified of appearing awkward or socially incompetent in public, and because he doesn’t possess the acting ability to fake social competence or empathy, when he is forced to attend such events, he usually is off by himself, physically not present, or behaving in ways that deviate from what the others are doing and appear strange, inappropriate, and awkward. Notice how out of touch he seems in both these photos. Due to his lack of empathy, he cannot read social cues that others can read with ease.

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This is why Trump has refused to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in which one of the traditions is to “roast” the current president and other high profile politicians.    Trump has never forgiven Obama for roasting him about insisting he produce his birth certificate at the WHCD in 2012.  Obama’s joke at Trump’s expense got uproarious laughter from the audience.  Narcissists cannot stand to be laughed at, even as a good natured part of a tradition.  They can’t roll with the punches because they take themselves very, very seriously.    A joke at their expense becomes a severe narcissistic injury.   (The White House Correspondents’ Dinner discontinued its comedic roasts this year, possibly due to not wanting to risk any more “hurt feelings.”)

Here’s a photo of Trump at last year’s G20 summit in Germany, and you can see how isolated he is. Keep in mind that at that summit, he was among highly intelligent people who are leaders of world democracies and cognizant of world affairs. Trump, having little in common with them (and painfully aware his intelligence and knowledge of world affairs could never match theirs) sits, nearly pouting, by himself.

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It’s even worse this year for him, and Trump, not possessing acting abilities, doesn’t even seem to be able to fake a smile (or arrogantly push aside the president of another country, as he did with Montenegro’s president Milo Đukanović).   He  appears unusually isolated, morose, angry, and unhappy.   He is suffering severe narcissistic injury due to what he knows is coming (even though he continues to deny any wrongdoing).  The apparent rejection of his heroes Putin and MBS at the summit are like salt in an already festering wound.

At his rallies back at home, he’s surrounded by people less educated and more ignorant than even he is (and is fawned over, adulated, and even worshipped as if he is God, and this infuses him with the narcissistic fuel he needs to function), so it’s easy for him to snap back into his alpha male show of bravado and false confidence, but at a foreign summit full of intellectually superior world leaders, he cannot and his emotional vulnerability is on display for the world to see.

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Trump is a man who knows the walls of justice are closing in on him, and even his foreign despotic allies seem to be losing respect for him. He may even be a liability to them at this point. I almost want to feel sorry for Trump, but because of his two year reign of terror and the immeasurable trauma he has caused to Americans and the entire world, I have no pity for him. He deserves whatever is coming.

In the next few weeks, until the Democratic House convenes on January 3,  Trump is going to double down and his aggressive behavior and lies here at home (where he’s back in his element) will become much worse.  We need to hang on and be courageous as his narcissistic rage will be nearly out of control.  But take heart:  it’s almost over, and he knows it.  That’s why he’s lashing out at anyone who isn’t on his side:  journalists, Democrats, women, liberals, and anyone who criticizes him.  But it’s temporary.  Like the Wicked Witch of the West, he has been doused with water, and he’s melting.   He will scream and flail and put up a mighty fight, but he will not be able to destroy democracy.  We are stronger and more powerful than any flailing, screaming, decompensating narcissist because there are more of us and we have truth on our side.

Don’t be surprised if he resigns.   While resignation is an act of defeat that seems out of character for someone as narcissistic as Trump, if he can no longer hold up the facade of invincibility, in order to save face resignation may be his only option.

 

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Denying the obvious.

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Climate change is not a theory, but a scientific fact with nearly as much evidence to back it up as the existence of gravity.  Scientists and climatologists aren’t stupid or deluded.  They have spent years studying geology, climatology, oceanography, and meteorology.   Climate change isn’t a conspiracy theory dreamed up by George Soros, China, or “the left.”   It’s not God punishing us for homosexuality or abortion (some right wing evangelicals actually believe this, but there isn’t even a logical connection between natural disasters and sinful behavior so their “argument” is no more than superstition).  Climate change is a real thing, and we would be wise to heed the experts and not right wing politicians and conspiracy theorists who continue to deny what’s right in front of them.

Climate deniers like Trump remind me of my deceased mother in law, a malignant narcissist who lied about things that were obvious to everyone else, and then, when she was shown evidence that she was wrong, instead of admitting her folly, continued to deny the obvious and even double down on her “beliefs.”     I remember a year or so after I got married, my husband and I moved into the first floor of her two family house in New Jersey.   It was an older house, and hadn’t been maintained well, and unbenownst to us, it was infested with termites.

One spring day, we had a massive swarm. Flying termites were literally coming out of the walls and oozing out of every corner.   They were dropping their wings all over the living room floor.   There must have been hundreds or even thousands of them.   I was terrified and felt like throwing up.   I called my mother in law down to look and begged her to hire a pest control company.   But not wanting to take any responsibility, she denied the termites were even there.    She said they weren’t termites, they were “bugs” caused by “dirt.”   We weren’t dirty people, but she was trying to blame us, saying if we were “cleaner people” there would be no bugs (especially since they hadn’t invaded her upstairs living quarters).

She reacted the same way when the basement washing machine broke.   It was 20 years old, and bound to break eventually, but she said we broke it because we shouldn’t have been mixing different colored clothing in the same wash.   Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  How does mixing colors cause a washing machine to break?  It doesn’t.    It was a lie she made up to blame us.

Trump’s behavior toward the people of California when he finally went there to survey the damage caused by the wildfires reminded me so much of my mother in law.   Instead of showing empathy to the people and offering help and temporary FEMA shelters to people left homeless by the fires, he tried to blame Californians, chiding them for “not raking” the forest floors.    Raking forest floors to prevent fires makes about as much sense as not mixing colors to prevent washing machine breakdowns, or dirt causing termite infestations.    Malignant narcissists, instead of admitting they may have been wrong, double down in their convictions,  and if they have to, they will concoct the most outrageous and ridiculous lies to “back up” their ludicrous claims.

Recently, a climate report by an independent and scientific agency came out, and it contained an alarming warning:  if we don’t stop our use of fossil fuels immediately, our planet’s weather will continue to worsen, with more severe and frequent hurricanes and other devastating storms, more frequent and damaging wildfires like the one that continues to rage in California, and eventually the ice caps will melt, completely changing the outlines of our coasts and submerging vulnerable landmasses like Florida and coastal cities like New York.   The Gulf Stream, which warms western Europe (which otherwise would be as cold as Canada and the northern US due to those countries’ high latitude) would be disrupted, and those countries could be plunged into deep freeze.

I could go on about all the changes but there are way too many to name here, and most of them would be devastating to life on this planet.

Yet Trump and his supporters continue to deny climate change, calling it a conspiracy theory, a “Chinese hoax,” and a left wing anticapitalist plot.    They see how bad the weather has been in recent years, with terrible and frequent hurricanes, wildfires like we’ve never seen, long droughts, flooding rains, the destruction of crops, much warmer winters than have ever been normal, and generally,  strange and severe weather that’s atypical for its location and latitude.

Trump thinks that because it happens to snow somewhere, or temperatures are colder than average on a given day, that means “global warming” is a hoax.   The term “global warming” has fallen out of favor (even though average temperatures are in fact rising) because the outcome of climate change doesn’t always mean hotter temperatures, even though over the long term, the earth is warming.  The preferred term is now climate change, because it takes into account the fact that a warming planet can cause every kind of severe weather, even bitterly cold temperatures.

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A good example of how this can happen is the Gulf Stream (which I already mentioned earlier), a current of warm tropical water that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and crosses the Atlantic, moving to the northeast, warming up northern and coastal Europe. The warming effect gives countries at high latitudes (Ireland is at the same latitude as Labrador!) much warmer weather than they would otherwise have.   If the Gulf Stream were to become disrupted (and the melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels would certainly do that), those countries will become much colder.   Yet it’s because the planet is warming, a chain of events started by the melting of the ice caps which would turn the entire Atlantic colder for a time.

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Further reading (please read, it is important):

A Grave Climate Warning, Published on Black Friday 

Narcissistic mothers never really change.

I started this blog over four years ago partly because of my discovery that I had been spending more than five decades of my life trying to please and win the unconditional love of a mother who simply wasn’t capable of giving me that kind of healthy love a normal parent has for a child.    Emotionally, I was still a child trying desperately to please a parent who could never be pleased, and in fact, resented me because of who I was.

I went No Contact with her at the same time I went No Contact with my malignant narcissist ex husband.  During the first two years of starting this blog, I wrote extensively about both of them, and learned so much about myself and also how to heal from the narcissistic abuse both of them had inflicted on me.

Distance made me think over a few things.    I also came to understand exactly what a malignant narcissist is, and after some time, I realized my mother is not one.    Malignant narcissism is a mixture of NPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder with paranoid or sadistic traits.   My mother, while highly narcissistic, is not at all antisocial or sadistic, but she does check off most of the criteria for NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).  She also fits much of the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Unlike a malignant narcissist, my mother does have a conscience and knows the difference between right and wrong.  She doesn’t “think like a criminal” and would never do anything illegal.  She has a sense of ethics.   She’s not sadistic and doesn’t enjoy seeing people suffer.  She likes animals and children.  She doesn’t have much empathy, even for her loved ones, but she isn’t the sort of person who enjoys watching others suffer or tries to cause them suffering;  she is mainly just cold and indifferent to the troubles of others, and fails to take responsibility when she has emotionally hurt someone.

Even so, as a parent, she was still very damaging.   Along with my borderline/narcissistic dad, who also was an active alcoholic during most of my childhood and adolescence (addictive disorders and alcoholism tend to exacerbate Cluster B personality types), there was lots and lots of drama, instability, fighting, screaming, accusations, gaslighting, hiding the truth from others, and abuse both physical and emotional while I was growing up, and it was mostly directed at me.  Needless to say, my growing up years were painful and traumatic.  As the only child in their marriage, I was constantly scapegoated and gaslighted and held to impossible standards, the implication being that I was never good enough and could never measure up.

Things could have been worse, but the damage was done.   I never felt like a full adult, and my self esteem took a beating.  I came to believe I wasn’t capable of very much in life.  My high sensitivity was used against me, treated like a defect or a weakness, instead of something that would ultimately become one of my greatest strengths.  I never really found my niche career wise, and I married an abusive, sociopathic husband who in many ways mirrored the emotional abuse I had suffered at the hands of both my parents as a child.

I felt especially uncomfortable, impotent, and childlike whenever I was with my mother, and this lasted into my fifties.  I’m not sure why this was so.  Perhaps because of my parents, she was the more narcissistic one, the one who seemed to always disapprove of me no matter what I said or did.   She would constantly gaslight me, give me “left handed” compliments that were really criticisms, find ways to embarrass or shame me in front of others (and then say I was being too sensitive or “imagining things” when I objected to this treatment), or blame me for things that weren’t actually my fault.   She never seemed to empathize whenever I was victimized at work or bullied at school and would instead tell me why I was bringing those things upon myself.

Going No Contact with her was necessary and freeing, and as I wrote about our relationship, I discovered many things about myself I never knew.   I discovered that I was not the failure and loser she’d always led me to believe I was, but my emotional growth had been stunted.   Anger followed but that passed.  Once it passed, I started to realize she was who she was because of the abuse she had suffered as a child.    I didn’t want to resume contact, but the more I read about narcissism, the more I realized she was simply a garden variety narcissist (which in a parent, is still very bad!) and did not meet the criteria for Malignant Narcissism.

For four years I avoided her phone calls (after awhile she stopped calling) and only sent cards on her birthday and Christmas.   But one day a few months ago, I took a phone call from her.   I figured it must be important since she rarely tried to call me anymore.  After all, she’s in her late 80s and it could be an emergency I needed to know about.   So I took the call (it turned out to be something pretty unimportant, though I can’t remember the specific reason she called).  She might have just been love bombing me, though there’s no way to know for sure.

Rather than tell her I had to get off the phone (as I would have earlier in my recovery), I decided to find a neutral subject that wouldn’t lead to an argument and we might be able to find some common ground on (a kind of grey rocking).  Since I was so caught up in (and disturbed by) the Trump presidency, I sent this up as a trial balloon and asked her what she thought about the latest debacle (which at the time was the cruel child separation policy at the border).   Politically,  we’re on the same side, and like me, she is horrified by Trump and what’s happening to this country (this is another way I can tell she’s not a sociopathic or malignant narcissist).   So for about half an hour, we actually had a pleasant (well, if you can call a conversation about the current political situation pleasant) conversation without any arguments or putdowns or gaslighting.    For once, I didn’t feel like a defective five year old.  For perhaps the first time, I felt like she was treating me like a fellow adult capable of thinking for myself.  It felt good!   We spoke for almost an hour, and right before we hung up, she said something she had never said to me before.

She said, “I have really missed you.  I love you so much.  You are such a good person.”

“You are such a good person.”   Whoa!  That’s simply not something a narcissistic mother would say to her child.   Nothing about my external appearance or my financial status, social class, worldly “success” or lack thereof.    Not only that, she sounded sincere, almost on the verge of tears.  I began to think that perhaps, I had misjudged her, and she wasn’t actually a narcissist at all.  Maybe she was just a borderline or maybe she had changed with age and was no longer a narcissist.

I didn’t speak to her again for another few months, but I began to toy with the idea of cautiously breaking my No Contact rule and going Low Contact.    It took me a long time to call her again, but the night before last week’s election, I finally shored up the courage to give her a call.

I decided to use the impending election as a way to start the conversation, since politics had worked the last time.    And it’s true we agreed about who we wished to see win the midterms and how much we both hated Trump and the GOP.   But this time the conversation wasn’t the same.   It felt forced and tense.   She kept interrupting me to say I was being too negative and dwelling on negative things too much, just like the old days before I went No Contact.   She seemed to want to change the subject, and kept asking me personal questions about myself.  I talked to her a little about the kids (her grandchildren) but when she asked me about myself, I clammed up.  I felt like she was prying and I didn’t want to tell her about myself (not that there’s much to tell).    Then she started saying she wanted to come visit me in the spring.  I don’t want her to come visit in the spring, or at all.   Just like in the old days, I felt diminished, put down, like a defective five year old again.   I realized nothing had really changed at all.

But that begs the question, what had made her say, with tears evident in her voice no less, that  I was a ‘good person’?  That’s just not something you hear someone with NPD say.   She seemed to mean it; I don’t think it was love bombing (though it could have been).    Perhaps for a fairly low level narcissist who isn’t malignant (but is still dangerous to others due to their disorder), the clouds occasionally part and they can actually see things clearly, the way they really are, without lying to themselves or others about what they see.     Perhaps she envies the fact I care about others, and am politically involved, and while normally such qualities might make her resent me,  at that particular moment, her guard was down and she realized she actually admired those qualities in me.

I’m pretty sure that on some level, my mother does love me.  At least I know she means me no harm.  And I love her too; she is my mother, so how can I not?    But the truth is, she is still a narcissist, and I simply can’t have any kind of serious relationship with anyone on the narcissism spectrum, especially someone I have so much unresolved childhood baggage with.   So it looks like it’s going to be just us exchanging cards on birthdays and Christmas, and we’ll see what happens as far as any future conversations go.  I just know for my own mental health, staying Very Low Contact is best.

 

Beware of narcissists posing as victims in the narcissistic abuse community.

Originally posted on November 24, 2014

wolvesinsheeps

I came across this post today on PsychForums. It’s by a woman who’s the moderator of a site for victims of abuse (she does not specify which site). She talks about how she is triggered and angered by forum members who she perceive as “better” in some way–smarter, prettier, richer, what have you–and then proceeds to play head games with them, make it difficult for them to log in or even bans them, without ever giving a reason. This poster admits getting pleasure from making the forum members suffer and thinks it’s a fun game. She admits her own life is a shambles and she is deeply miserable. The fact she posted this on a psychological forum indicates she is are aware this is a problem and knows it’s wrong, but she says on the forum she feels like “God” and doesn’t seem to want to stop playing so cruelly with the forum members.

I’ve read a number of blog posts and articles that discuss this problem, which is much more prevalent than you might think. It’s disturbing and scary. It’s hard enough for victims of narcissistic abuse to trust other people, and they come to blogs and forums to find a haven of like minded people who have been through the same shit they have and find support. But not everyone they meet in these online havens are who they say they are. Some may be psychopaths out looking for prey, and what better prey is there than the members of a website for victims of abuse?

Psychopaths, malignant narcissists and other predatory people are attracted to blogs and forums focusing on narcissism and abuse, because these are places where the “prey” is abundant. They can have a field day playing with the minds of vulnerable, hurt victims, especially if they are the admin or owner and have created a website for the abused. I’m not talking about someone like Sam Vaknin here–at least he’s upfront and honest about his narcissism, and he’s actually helped many victims of abuse (I still can’t quite figure out what his true motives are–they must be primarily self-serving, but his writings have helped many). Rather, I’m referring to website and blog owners who focus on narcissism and psychopathy but are malignant narcissists themselves, yet they pose as victims or sympathetic “gurus” who only want to help but do anything but.

Bloggers and forum admins, by nature, are probably at least a little narcissistic, but as long as it’s not used to hurt or manipulate or be used against members of the community, then it’s not a problem. But there do exist those who run sites for the abused who pretend to be caring survivors but are anything but. In fact, they hate and envy those who post on their sites.

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How can you tell if a forum or blog owner is really a malignant narcissist–a wolf in sheep’s clothing? How do you know that when they talk about “their psychopath” or “their MN” that THEY are really the MN or psychopath and the “abuser” is the real victim?

Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to tell. Narcissists have very tender feelings. They are easily hurt and love to whine about how they’ve been “victimized” by other people who have had the guts to call them out, retaliate, or complain about their evil behavior. They fail to take into account that they had it coming and deserved the “abuse.” When you can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, it’s all too easy for a narcissist to leave out pertinent facts–such as what THEY might have done to deserve the “abuse” they had coming to them. Their lies and half-truths about their victimization may seem very believable. They can make their victim sound like a raging psychopath should they choose to do so. It’s a form of online gaslighting and they are very good at it.

While there’s no foolproof way to tell, especially online, who’s a malignant narcissist posing as a victim and who’s a real victim, there are some red flags to look for.

1. Does the forum or site owner ban people easily, delete posts, or not approve posts? (I’m not talking about trolls or abusive posts here)
2. Is there a lot of infighting and antagonism between the members? If so, suspect an admin or a person with power on that site playing a “divide and conquer” game with the members to turn them against each other.
3. Is there a member who constantly complains about their victimization but never seems to do anything about it, does nothing but trash their abuser’s character, or never seems to get any better? You could be dealing with a narc posing as a victim.
4. Is there anyone who seems envious or resentful of another person’s recovery or improvement, or even just fails to acknowledge that person’s good fortune, or changes the subject?
5. Is there a self centered person who only talks about their own case, but never offers support or encouragement to other members? That person could be a narc.
6. If there is someone who is openly critical or judgmental of another person’s case or behavior, that person is almost certainly a narc.
7. Is the site owner uninvolved with the members and never seem to interact with them? If so, you may be dealing with someone who is looking to achieve Internet “fame” and really isn’t interested in the subject or its members.
Narcissism and psychopathy are hot topics these days, and blogs and websites about these disorders are almost guaranteed to get a lot of hits and views. Someone who wants to achieve Internet “fame” may start a blog or site about narcissism or psychopathy just because it’s popular and trendy, even though they don’t have much interest in the topic. These blog owners probably own other blogs and sites, and those sites will focus on other “hot topics.” But if the owner is really that detached or disinterested, the site will eventually lose members and fizzle out. It’s hard for members to stay involved, when the owner isn’t even interested.

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Further reading (with my personal experience):

9 Ways to Tell if the Victim Blog You Read is Run by a Narcissist 

Donald Trump, Psychopath

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Here’s an interesting, informative article from Patheos.com in which the author, Andrew Spitznas, makes an excellent case for Donald Trump being afflicted with Malignant Narcissism — Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and traits of both Paranoia and Sadism.  Donald Trump displays all four elements, and the author gives examples of each.

Donald Trump, Psychopath

My only criticism is the author states that malignant narcissism is the same as psychopathy.  I disagree.  Psychopathy (as opposed to sociopathy, which it’s often confused with) is a congenital condition in which the brain is missing the structures responsible for the development of a conscience and empathy.   Thus, a person can be a psychopath even though there was no unusual trauma during childhood.  Psychopathy is not a personality disorder, but really a developmental disorder of the brain.  Psychopaths are often “bad seeds,” but not all psychopaths are criminals and some can even be trained to be prosocial (even though prosocial behavior will never come naturally to them).

Malignant narcissism is NPD plus ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), with traits of paranoia and sadism, and it is not a congenital condition.  Both NPD and ASPD are Cluster B personality disorders that develop due to early childhood trauma or neglect.  Children are not born with personality disorders; they are acquired.  While malignant narcissists are quite sociopathic and usually lack a conscience  (garden variety, non-malignant NPDs are not sociopathic, they usually have a conscience, and even sometimes have limited amounts of empathy), they are not psychopathic.    The sociopath’s — or malignant narcissist’s — emotional development was arrested so they never developed empathy or a conscience.   There is no evidence that anyone has ever been cured of malignant narcissism, though in rare circumstances, they may become self-aware.   Donald Trump is most certainly not self-aware, nor is he likely to ever become so.

While it’s entirely possible Donald Trump may be both a malignant narcissist and a psychopath, they are not the same thing.  It’s possible to be one without being the other.  I think the confusion arises because the behavior of a psychopath and a malignant narcissist (or a person with antisocial personality disorder/sociopathy) can be so similar.

Football and Christmas: how Trump is destroying two American traditions.

football  christmas

Malignant narcissists love to ruin holidays and other events that bring people together. It’s common for a narcissist to ruin Christmas, anniversaries, or birthdays by picking a fight, gaslighting or insulting the guest of honor or the attendees, or finding ways to turn everyone’s attention on themselves and make it all about them. The truth is, the narcissist hates it when they aren’t constantly the center of attention, so ruining everyone else’s fun is often the easiest way for them to accomplish that. It’s also a way to keep others from having a good time. Malignant narcissists hate to see other people happy because, to them, life is a zero sum game and if others are happy, they see it as a threat to their own ability to be happy (the truth is, they are incapable of genuine happiness) and become envious of those who can. So if they are at a party or other gathering where people are celebrating, they will do anything they can to become the center of attention and ruin the fun of others in order to “right” things (by taking away the happiness of others).

On the national level, in America, we have two traditions that are shared by millions of people of disparate backgrounds and historically have had a way of uniting people who may not otherwise agree or have much else in common. These traditions are professional football and Christmas.

Christmas is celebrated not just by Christians, but also by many Jews, atheists and people of other belief systems. It’s become a secular and national holiday, and while I deplore the commercialization of Christmas, it certainly serves as a yearly reminder of the importance of family ties, close friendships, and generosity. Although many (understandably) become depressed during the holiday season (especially if they lack family, friends or money to buy gifts) and have every right to not celebrate it at all, I think most people see Christmas as a positive and enjoyable thing, and of course many also recognize the religious meaning of Christmas too.

Christmas brings together people not just of different religious beliefs, but also people of every race, ethnicity, creed, gender identity, age, and lifestyle. Everyone from the liberal childless high-powered urban career woman to the Latino factory worker supporting his wife and five children to the conservative Christian farmer’s wife get a day or two off of work, decorate a Christmas tree, and give gifts to the people they love on December 25th. For the most part, people feel a sense of togetherness and joyfulness during the holiday season, and are caught up in the excitement of decorating, cooking and shopping for those they love.

NFL football is much the same way. While it probably has fewer fans than Christmas (I’m one of them), football is a huge deal to many Americans of varied backgrounds, education levels, political ideologies, interests, and religious beliefs. It tends to bring all these people together in support of their favorite team (and against the opposing team). As long as the players are out there on the field, football fans can put aside their religious or political differences, and forget about race and social class and come together in solidarity to support their team.  Football, like Christmas, fosters unity and community.

How Trump is destroying Christmas and NFL football.

takingaknee

Trump is a malignant narcissist and because he is, he hates anything that brings people together and causes them to celebrate together or find common ground or unity.   Because he is miserable and empty inside, he hates happiness and joy in others.   He has homed in on Christmas and football because these two traditions are associated with community and fellowship.  Perhaps even more importantly, they are traditions associated with America, and though Trump will never admit it, he hates America and the democracy and liberty for all it represents.   He is hell-bent on destroying those things that make us Americans and transforming us into a thuggish Russian-style dictatorship.

Christmas was his first target.   Even during his campaign, he (and his sycophants on Fox News) railed on about a nonexistent “war on Christmas” — a manufactured “crisis” focusing not on the spirit or meaning or even the holiday of Christmas itself — but on meaningless and shallow trappings  of Christmas like the proper method of greeting:  “Happy Holidays” was suddenly a Very Bad Thing, even though Happy Holidays has been said for many decades without anyone ever blinking an eyelash.   His unreasonable rages against red Starbucks coffee cups that lacked Christmas decorations on them was similarly petty and shallow  and had nothing to do with Christmas itself.

Last fall, Trump attacked football in a remarkably similar manner.  He became enraged when black football players exercised their First Amendment rights by “taking a knee” during the singing of the National Anthem instead of standing for it.   For those unfamiliar with what “taking a knee” represents, it’s an action of protest against police brutality against people of color — not a disrespect of America, the Anthem, or the flag.  In fact, it’s because these players who take a knee love the America we used to be and the one the Constitution stood for, that they are peacefully protesting against the return of racism and violence to law enforcement during the Trump era.  There is nothing wrong or disrespecful about exercising our freedom of speech, a right we are promised by the Constitition, but Trump acts as if it’s an unpardonable sin and a personal affront.  He doesn’t seem to understand that what makes a person a great patriot isn’t whether or not they stand for the Anthem or salute the flag, but whether or not they have the integrity and courage to hold up the truth, and seek justice, freedom, and the upholding of the Constitition.    Anyone can salute a piece of cloth or stand for a song.  But not everyone can stand up for the values America claims to uphold.   Trump certainly can’t — and he won’t.

I also don’t think it’s an accident that football is closely associated with Thanksgiving — a holiday that specifically celebrates inclusiveness of the “other” (white settlers sitting down to dine with native Americans) and family unity.

Note the similarities between what Trump is doing to Christmas and NFL football.   He is using a sport that normally unifies people and zeroing in on a trivial “optic”  in order to create discord and divisiveness.    In much the same manner he focuses on shallow details such as the design of a throwaway cup or the wording of a Christmas card instead of the secular (unity and community) or religious meaning of Christmas,  he is focusing on black football players’ failing to stand during the Anthem instead of on the enjoyment and sense of community the sport of football brings to so many Americans.    In zeroing in on the inconsequental and trivial and getting Americans to focus on those instead of the thing that brought them together in the first place, he is dividing people within two revered traditions that used to unify us.

The end result is that people are no longer able to enjoy Christmas as they once did because they now have to worry about whether or not they should say “Happy Holidays” (to be inclusive) or “Merry Christmas.” (to please Trump).   They have to worry about what kinds of decorations they use or what their throwaway coffee cup should look like.  The whole issue is ridiculous because people have always said “Merry Christmas.”  They have also said “Happy Holidays” as long as I can remember (and that’s a long time).   Football fans now have to worry about whether they should stand for the Anthem or sympathize with the black players who are protesting police brutality (not America itself).  They can’t just focus on the game and have a good time.

Both of these things are Machiavellian thought control tactics intended to divide us and create discord in an already deeply divided and tribal country.   The intended goal is control.   The more we are divided as a nation, the easier we are to control.   Such manipulation of public sentiment is standard practice in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.

Malignant narcissists like Trump can’t understand genuine human emotions or ideals, so they substitute meaningless slogans and phony platitudes and symbols like a flag or an Anthem or MAGA hat or a greeting card message as a pale substitute.   People with heartfelt passion for the actual ideals these symbols are supposed to represent can see right through the facade of “patriotism” or “Christmas spirit” or whatever else the narcissist is trying to convince the world they are standing up for, when the sad reality is they stand for nothing because they are so empty inside.

Football and Christmas.  Two traditions as American as apple pie.   I wonder how he’ll use apple pie as a tool for division.

Sociopaths rule America — but there’s an easy way to identify them.

<> on January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.
The above photo, taken at a beer party celebrating “Trumpcare” passing the House last May, drove home to me exactly how cruel and sadistic Trump’s people really are.   It hit me like a ton of bricks.  They are literally laughing over millions of people losing their healthcare.

Since the very beginning of his term, Trump has surrounded himself with people who seem to lack empathy, conscience, or any sense of morality or scruples.    The good people left this administration early on, or were fired.   Later, those people who weren’t so good, but who still had some semblance of a conscience or morals lost their jobs or resigned.

By a process of attrition, Trump’s cabinet is now almost 100% sociopathic.    Trump doesn’t seem to care if the people who work for him care about We the People or have any sense of right from wrong or duty to the country.  In fact, it’s better for Trump if they don’t.   All Trump cares about is their loyalty to him.      Never do you see a shred of empathy from any of these people.   Human suffering doesn’t seem to bother them.  In fact, they seem to delight in causing it.   They never apologize or admit wrongdoing.  In fact, they’re very likely to project their own wrongdoings onto others, smearing and gaslighting innocent people and groups.  Their greed, sense of entitlement, arrogance, and selfishness is bottomless.   We have grifters like Scott Pruitt, whose outrageous and illegal fleecing of the taxpayers for his own self-benefit and entertainment may rival or even surpass Trump’s own.   As if it’s not already bad enough he’s ruining the environment and destroying the EPA from within (which is entirely intentional).   And yet he keeps his job.   In fact, Pruitt may be the one who gets to fire Bob Mueller should Trump fire Jeff Sessions.

All of the people working for Trump, based on their actions and words, seem to have one of the Cluster B personality disorders, most likely NPD, Antisocial PD (sociopathy), or psychopathy.    Many of these people are likely malignant narcissists, like Trump himself.  They serve as his flying monkeys and yes-men. 

There may be one or two non-disordered people left in the administration, who have severe problems with codependency and therefore have some pathological need to be pleasing to Trump, but I think even most of those people have been fired.  People with normal levels of empathy, who don’t feel entitled to cheat and steal, who care about the rule of law, and who have any integrity at all are nonexistent in this administration, and that is scary.

Their one saving grace is it’s fairly easy to identify them.

You can see it in their faces.

One thing I’ve noticed about Trump’s cabinet members, his most fervent sycophants and enablers,  his three elder children, and many Republicans who support this president is the deadness in their eyes.    Their eyes are cold, hard, and flat.   Sometimes they appear black, as if they are lacking irises.  When they smile, the smile doesn’t reach their eyes, making the smile appear mocking or threatening, or at the least insincere.

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NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch showing those cold, dead, black eyes.  Her expression is constantly angry and hate filled.   I strongly suspect malignant narcissism.  Coupled with those eyes that look like miniature black holes, her overall appearance is extremely intimidating — and that may be the point of using her in their ads.

Jared-Kushner-Getty
Jared Kushner has possibly the deadest looking eyes I’ve ever seen on a living person.  He literally looks like he’s dead.   He sold his soul a long, long time ago. Trump’s three oldest children also have the same dead look, though not as pronounced as Kushner.

A few of these people, rather than having those dead reptilian eyes, have eyes that sparkle with psychopathic glee, and they often wear a smirk, especially when they know their policies are hurting others (I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan).

paul-ryan-smirk-getty-640x480
When is Paul Ryan ever not smirking?   Sometimes I think it’s his only facial expression.

Trump himself has eyes that are so scary I really can’t look at them.   I can’t even look at his face anymore, because I feel evil emanating from the image itself.   I feel like something in my soul is being eaten every time I have to look at him.    Malignant narcissists like Trump get worse over time, especially if they are given access to a great deal of power and influence.  Narcissistic supply is like a drug that increases the malignant narcissist’s need for even more adulation and worship.  As they try to consolidate even more power, their malevolence increases, and this can be chillingly seen in Trump’s facial expressions over time.   He never laughs.  When he smiles, which is rare, his smile is fake and never reaches his eyes.  Most of his recent photos are like this one, showing a combination of malevolence and childish petulance.  Others show him looking as enraged as a rabid dog, especially the ones taken at his hate-rallies.

President Trump Holds Joint Press Conference With Japanese PM Shinzo Abe
Trump’s default expression (besides abject rage) is childish petulance mixed with malevolence and festering hate.

Jack Brown, MD, is a physician who is an expert in reading body language and facial expressions.     He said there is a particular expression that sociopaths and malignant narcissists use much more frequently than normal people: what he calls the Elevated Central Forehead Contraction with a Partial (Insincere) Mouth Smile.  It’s a closed mouth, fake smile with the eyebrows drawn together as if the person is frowning.  It’s similar to a smirk, but not quite.  The overall effect is  mocking condescension and cruel contempt.   Brown says this expression is used often by serial killers, mass murderers, hardened criminals, and by everyday bullies and other people who lack empathy.

Here’s a very obvious example of this expression on hedge fund manager and convicted felon Martin Shkreli (the guy who became infamous for jacking up drug prices to ridiculous rates, making them unaffordable for most people).  He used it continuously while on trial during questioning.

martin_shkreli
Martin Shkreli on trial, displaying Dr. Brown’s Elevated Central Forehead Contraction with Partial Mouth Smile, a dead giveaway of a disordered personality.

Here is the same expression, on Trump (who seems to use it quite frequently):
trumpsmirk

Brown says the ECFCWPMS is a default expression for Vladimir Putin (it’s a lot more subtle on him but is ever-present).  Putin appears to be a pure psychopath, rather than a malignant narcissist (which is why Trump looks up to him and tries to curry his favor).  Pure psychopaths are “stronger” than “mere” narcissists, who have that pesky neediness and emotional vulnerability that bring them so much shame.

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Stephen Miller (below) combines a cruel smirk with the reptilian dead eyes.  I think of him as the Joseph Goebbels of the Trump administration.   Trump naturally adores this guy and will probably never fire him.

stephenmillersmirk

Identifying human predators. 

If you are face to face with a sociopathic personality, you may feel as if their eyes are boring into your soul.   This is because they are human predators — they are sizing you up as potential prey and victims.   On a date or with a new person, you may feel as if the predatory stare indicates sexual or romantic interest. Failing to make the distinction between the predatory stare and sexual/romantic interest leads many a woman (and man) into dangerous and abusive relationships with people who live only to use other people because they don’t see them as fully human.

Beauty tip:  Constant lying may ruin your appearance! 

Another thing I’ve noticed is several of the women in the Trump administration, especially those whose job requires them to lie constantly to the public, attain a facial asymmetry that gets worse over time.   It also seems to age them faster than normal.  I don’t know if there’s anything scientific behind this phenomenon, but I have come to believe that constant lying will do this to your facial features.  If you want to retain your physical beauty, then, tell the truth!   Lying is, apparently, bad for both your soul and your physical appearance!

huckabeesanders
Huckabee Sanders looks like this whenever she’s lying.  Her eyes literally focus in two different directions and is very unsettling.   She’s only 35 years old but looks like she’s in her 50’s.  She has aged visibly since she took this post.

Kellyanne Conway
Can you trust a face that looks like this?   Constant lying has apparently done this to Kellyanne Conway’s face.  She used to be a fairly attractive woman until she took her job in the Trump administration.

The other day I read an article that said there is a new bill the GOP is trying to pass that will require a photo of Trump (and Pence) to be hung in every Post Office.   That’s something dictators do, not leaders of democracies.   Isn’t it bad enough we are daily inundated with sound bites and constant images of this president?  We can’t get away from him.  No other president has dominated the media, our conversations, our thoughts, and our very lives the way he has done.
What’s next — requiring that every American household hang a photo of Dear Leader in a conspicuous place, like they do in North Korea?

The old saying about “birds of a feather” are true.  Sociopaths and malignant narcissists like Trump attract other sociopaths and malignant narcissists, and they seek them out.   That’s because they know anyone with a conscience or empathy for others will refuse to work for them.    That’s where we’re at now.   We’re a country run by sociopaths.

For the sake of our own souls, our nation, and the world, learn to identify them.

Trump’s Neanderthal toolbox.

caveman_trump

Artwork by Roman Genn

This is a brilliant Twitter thread by @HoarseWisperer, who often posts threads about Trump’s probable NPD/sociopathy.   In fact, I think this short write up about Trump’s narcissism is the most spot on description I have ever read, so I’m posting the thread here in its entirety (with the author’s permission).

I also like the sense of hope it left me with.   The nightmare will not last forever because of the nature of NPD is ultimately self destructive.  Trump will burn all his bridges before he can take down an entire nation.   At least I hope this is true.

Here is the thread.

1.  As I’ve often talked about, I’ve seen Trump’s narcissism up close. It’s as familiar as an old movie, so let me put today in some context…

2.  People with severe narcissistic personality disorder like Trump are driven solely by the shallowest of primitive impulses. They are incapable of complex reasoning. They are emotional cavemen.

3.  Their entire world is an endless, futile effort to avoid facing the humiliating shame their own failings deserve. Their lives are empty, contrived caricatures of what they think others will approve of and admire. They’re broken child-actors.

4.  Trump exists solely to mimic what he imagines is worthy of esteem… and since that is so vulgar, crass and unsuccessful, he fails and fails and fails. He’s an actor addicted to the reviews but who gets panned after every performance.

5.  A functional person would be capable of insight and reflection. They’d be capable of learning. They’d take social cues. They’d adapt. They’d grow. Again, back to the caveman bit, Trump is incapable of any of that.

6.  The only primitive tools Trump has in his Neanderthal toolbox are anger, blame and lying. Whenever he feels the weight of his own failure, he pulls out a combo of those three clubs and beats on someone. Sometimes the media. Sometimes someone around him.

7.  The net result – and it is always this way with severe NPDs – is that there is endless chaos in their inner circle. It only briefly calms when they’ve turned over the entire cast – because they briefly think the new cast buys the shtick.

8.  Trump is going through the automatic destruction cycle of an ordinary narcissist. The narc I know well went through it every two years. I could set my watch to it. Entire circle burned to the ground and replaced…

9.  Trump isn’t done yet. He will fire and replace numerous others. He will purge multiple others he sees as disloyal… …but he will leave a few people who merely hide their disdain and put on a better act.

10.  Those people will carry the tribal knowledge of Trump’s failings to the newest members. They’ll poison the new cast… …and within weeks, we will be hearing rumblings of the next purge wave coming.

11.  While the replacement of a Tillerson with a Pompeo stokes the fear that an authoritarian is building a regime, in reality, Trump is a deeply, deeply dysfunctional man utterly incapable of keeping from burning down his own house. Trump is a destroyer of his own circle.

12.  There is no chance that Trump will assemble a new cast that will survive and work together functionally. Trump is a toddler gorilla utterly compelled to fling his own feces on everyone around him. Thus it is. Thus it will be.

13.  If you are worrying that Trump is building something that will worsen and endure, breathe a little easier. This is a cycle. It will repeat and repeat. Today’s appointees will be next month’s casualties. There will be nothing more than build-and-burn loops.

14.  Last year it was Bannon, Gorka, et al. Now it will be Pompeo and newbies. This cast won’t last. No one will ever last. Narcissists burn down their own houses. No one lasts.

15.  So, as best you can, breathe deep and exhale. This is the cycle of narcissism. It’s a rollercoaster. Watch with detachment. After all the hills and drops, a month from now, Trump’s dysfunction will be right where it is today. No better. No worse.

16.  As they say in the support world: Don’t get blown about by every breeze. Today has been windy but we shall not topple. Stay strong, stay centered. This too shall pass. We shall make it so.

caveman_trump2

 

 

 

 

Projection and Trump’s snake story.

thesnake

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
— Maya Angelou

 

Several times at his rallies, Donald Trump has done something out of character — he has delved into literature to make a point, specifically poetry.  Ironically, the poem Trump has chosen to recite to refer to the immigrants he dislikes so much was written by a black 1960s soul singer and social activist, Oscar Brown Jr.

The other day, in front of the White House lawn, a huge crowd of supporters gathered,  and once again, Trump recited the words of “The Snake:”

On her way to work one morning

Down the path alongside the lake

A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew

“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”

“Take me in oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk 

Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived 

She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried

“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight 

But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

“I saved you,” cried that woman

“And you’ve bit me even, why?

You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin 

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in 

”Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake 

To those of us who have a knowledge of malignant narcissism and have connected that to Donald Trump’s poisonous character, the snake he refers to here isn’t actually the immigrants he so despises — it’s himself.    The “tender-hearted woman” who took him in are his gullible supporters, who “took him in” and continue to support him, even though his policies will hurt them too.

Donald Trump is the snake, and he knows it.   In almost everything he says and does, he reveals who he is.   This is a psychological defense mechanism known as projection, which is really a form of gaslighting.   It’s also sometimes known as blame-shifting.

Pay attention not to who he demonizes and blames, for that is not the real message he is sending, but to what he is blaming them for.   His negative projections onto others are code (probably unconscious) for what he himself is doing or feeling.   In that sense, he is very transparent and doing us a huge service by warning us how dangerous he is.   There are so many examples of him doing this I won’t even list them all here.

All malignant narcissists project, and once you’re aware of it, you can’t miss it.   A narcissist always reveals himself or herself through the blame they try to shift onto others.  Whenever a narcissist starts pointing fingers, listen to the words they use and then put the narcissist in the place of the person or group they are projecting onto, and you will learn the truth about who they are.   It’s a very handy skill.