Most successful politicians are narcissists, or at least have more than average narcissistic traits. Narcissism is almost a requirement to be a successful politician, since it takes a high level of self confidence and an affinity for self-promotion. One must be competitive and like being in the public eye. People with high levels of narcissism are attracted to professions that put them in the public eye or give them power and influence over others.
If one looks at past presidents (pre-Trump), it’s fair to say that almost all of them have been narcissistic to varying degrees. Bill Clinton is one of the most obvious examples, given his actions with Monica Lewinski in the Oval Office and his subsequent lying about it. Nixon was also a narcissist, and in many ways his actions during Watergate and the hearings that followed mirrored Trump’s, but even he had his limits and eventually resigned, apologizing to the American people — which proves even Nixon still had a conscience. Nixon also accomplished good things during his presidency — he created the EPA and expanded Medicare and Social Security. He tried to pass a bill that promised a guaranteed universal income. The only president in my living memory who may not have had an excess of narcissism was Jimmy Carter. He may not have had enough narcissism to be very successful. Carter’s humility may have been one of the reasons why he didn’t get a second term. Humility is what made Carter an exceptionally good man, but not really fit for the presidency.
While most politicians are narcissists or at least have an excess of narcissistic traits, most probably fall short of full-blown NPD and are not sociopaths. Past presidents had narcissism of the healthy variety. There were limits to their narcissism, and they were not devoid of a conscience or empathy. Trump’s narcissism is an entirely different animal from other presidents.’ He is a narcissistic sociopath — a malignant narcissist — which means that he shows all the signs of someone with NPD as well as those of Antisocial Personality Disorder. It’s extremely dangerous for any nation when it elects a leader with this particular combination of Cluster B disorders.
Dictators and despots throughout history have had the same dangerous pathology as Trump. Devoid of a conscience or any sense of accountability to their country or their people, they believe themselves to be above the law and their actions are thoroughly corrupt and cruel. They lie more easily than you or I breathe. In fact, they lie even when it’s not necessary to lie, because they literally can’t see the truth. All they see is their own reality, an extension of their narrative of invincible greatness, and woe be to anyone who dares challenge their greatness or who tries to uncover the truth about them or hold them accountable for their immoral actions. To a narcissistic sociopathic leader, who sees everything in black and white, there is only “us” and “them.” If you are not with them, if you do not kiss the ground they walk on, you are the enemy. That’s why Trump can’t work with Democrats or liberals and why he regularly demeans and insults them, something no other Republican president has ever done.
Trump holds his rallies to garner narcissistic supply for himself, all the while telling his rabid supporters grand lies about all the great things he’s accomplished, the size of his inauguration crowd (which he’s still obsessed with after a whole year), how many jobs he’s brought back, how his tax bill will help middle class people (it will only help the rich), how much he is loved, and how leaders of other countries admire and revere him. He emboldens his crowds by suggesting it’s okay to physically attack journalists or protesters. He demeans the free press, even tweeting offensive memes in which he’s stepping on the CNN logo like a bug. There’s an odd timing to his rallies — he holds them whenever the press has been especially critical of him.
Trump, like all narcissistic sociopaths, attracts people much like himself who serve as his sycophants and flying monkeys. It’s astounding how sociopathic everyone in the Trump administration seems. Has any one of them ever apologized for anything, or shown any sense of accountability or empathy for the people Trump’s policies are hurting? These people lie for him, back up his lies, and attack those who challenge those lies. People with any conscience have already left the administration or been fired. Trump cannot afford to have anyone with a conscience or who is critical of him in his cabinet, so if they don’t leave on their own, he gets rid of them.
No other president has so egregiously attacked past presidents (Obama), political rivals (Hillary Clinton), politicians belonging to the opposing party (Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Democrats in general), people and organizations trying to uncover the truth about his connections to Putin and Russia (Bob Mueller, James Comey, the FBI), or anyone else who challenges him, tries to hold him accountable, or doesn’t treat him like he’s God.
No other president has held meetings in which his cabinet members are required to shower praise on him, as if he’s some two-bit dictator in a banana republic. Like his rallies, these meetings give him the adulation he craves in order to function, especially when he’s feeling too vulnerable because his malignancy and cruelty is exposed or called out.
No other president has been so unempathetic and self-congratulating when a national tragedy strikes. His insensitive, tasteless tossing of a roll of paper towels at the people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island said everything we need to know about how he feels about the Puerto Rican people. He made fun of the Mayor of San Juan and said the people weren’t helping themselves enough (even though under the circumstances, they had no way of doing so without outside help). After two of the recent hurricanes, he told people who had lost their homes to “have a good time.” What president with an ounce of empathy says that? Nor has he ever apologized for anything he’s said and done, no matter how insensitive or wrong, because Trump’s malignant narcissism will not allow him to. People do not exist to Donald Trump. People are objects to him; they are either useful to him or they are enemies. There is no middle ground.
No other president has banned words, the way Trump has done with his list of seven words the CDC is no longer allowed to use, knowing full well this will hinder their ability to do their job properly. The fact the words “vulnerable,” “transgender,” “entitlement,” and “diversity” are in this list of banned words tells us everything we need to know about how he feels toward vulnerable people, including those needing social services (“entitlements”), transgender people, and minority populations. Trump’s contempt for science and scientific research is evident in his banning of the phrases “science-based” and “evidence-based.” The banned word “fetus” is obviously a dog whistle to his evangelical donors and supporters. Banning words and otherwise undermining our First Amendment rights is very Orwellian and dangerous to a functioning democracy. It’s a slippery slope that leads to totalitarianism.
No other president has mocked the disabled (the way he mocked a disabled reporter) and bragged about grabbing women by their private parts — and then lying and insisting he never said it, even though it’s on tape that he did.
No other president has openly admired authoritarians and dictators like Russia’s Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, and the Phillippines’ Duterte, while dismissing or insulting democratic leaders of the developed western world such as Germany’s Angela Merkel or Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.
Every day this malignant narcissist gaslights the nation. He insists lies are truth and truth are lies. Anything critical of him becomes “fake news.” This has resulted in many Americans feeling extremely stressed because he makes them question their own reality and sense of what is true. I’ve read articles where mental health professionals say Trump is all their patients talk about. They are feeling traumatized, under enormous stress, and off balance because of this president. He’s having the same effect on an entire country that a malignant narcissist parent has on their children. And just like a family headed by a malignant narcissist, he has scapegoats (Democrats, the free press, his rivals and critics, vulnerable populations, and anyone who speaks the truth), golden children (his sycophants in the White House and others who support him, and of course, his daughter Ivanka), and his enablers and flying monkeys (white supremacist and neo-Nazi hate groups, far right evangelicals, and his base of deplorables who attend his rallies).
No other president has had such a toxic effect on this country. Trump, unlike other presidents who may have been narcissistic, has done nothing beneficial or good for the people while in office, but he’s certainly created chaos and destruction. He has not fulfilled any of his promises, but he has broken many. Rather than making America great again, he and his administration are deliberately and systematically destroying everything that made America great and transforming it into a dystopian nightmare.