This article by David M. Reiss, MD and Seth Davin Norrholm is a must read!
In America in 2019, no one is doing much of anything to protest or resist a despotic, sociopathic president who is a clear and present danger to democracy and the rule of law as we have always known it. We are in grave danger of becoming a totalitarian, fascist regime with the loss of all our rights and protections, and yet are content to sit on our couches and tweet our discontent or just blithely go about our business as if everything is normal.
Why is that so?
There are many, many more of us than them. The power is in our hands. It always has been. All we have to do is use it, as South Korea did in 2016 to remove their despotic president, and many other countries have done (even countries where speaking against the government is a crime), and yet we don’t. Why not?
Sometimes I’m most clearheaded very early in the morning, before my head gets filled with the garbage of daily life. I answered my own question upon waking up this morning. I decided to post my thoughts on Twitter in a series of threaded tweets. To my surprise, my thread went viral, with many retweets and hundreds of comments I am still trying to reply to. It seems that my early morning musings hit a nerve, so I decided to post it here too.
Feel free to share your thoughts.
When I started this blog, I remember saying I would never write about politics or religion.
Four years later, I’m writing about both politics and religion. Though not every one of my posts covers these two divisive subjects, a good percentage of them do. Sometimes I remember the promise I made when this blog was new, and feel like a bit of a hypocrite.
But then when I realize how closely our political situation (and religion too, since in America, right wing evangelical Christianity has become VERY political) ties in with narcissistic abuse and sociopathy, which was this blog’s original focus — I realize I made the right decision in tossing aside my original vow to steer clear of religion and politics.
In 2019, narcissistic abuse is no longer a matter that only affects individuals, relationships, and families. It’s the modus operandi of a criminal political organization or perhaps group of criminal political organizations that is affecting everyone under their rule on a nationwide, or even a worldwide, scale. What is happening in the Republican Party — no longer your father’s, brother’s, or even your own conservative, small government, ‘family values’ party, but a treasonous terrorist organization of white supremacists and religiofascists that serves only the wealthy, white, straight, and male — is narcissistic abuse writ large. Like it or not, all of us, to one degree or another, are affected by it.
Those of us who are horrified by what has become of America and the cruel way some vulnerable groups of people are being treated, and terrified by what Trump and his sociopathic regime may do to us next are most likely suffering some form of PTSD. If we already were victims of narcissistic abuse, we are likely suffering a relapse of Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). I know I sure as hell am. Most days I feel like I’m just barely hanging on. It’s hard to think or to function. I feel constant anxiety, and sometimes depression. When I’m not anxious or depressed, I’m in a white hot rage. Peace of mind is a thing of the past, since I never know what fresh hell each new day will bring. I know I’m far from alone.
Living in Trump’s America without being part of his cultish base feels a lot like waiting for your abusive husband to get home and not knowing whether he’ll beat you up again or mercifully just ignore you tonight. It feels like being a scapegoated child in a family of narcissists, who blame you for everything that goes wrong, even though you don’t understand what you did wrong (and probably didn’t do anything). You’re always anxious and on edge, always waiting for the “other shoe to drop.” Narcissists like to keep you off balance, and Trump and his sycophants like to create the sort of chaos and say the kinds of things that keep us all off balance and constantly on edge. What he’s doing isn’t any different than what your narcissistic mother did to you, and it has the same deleterious effect on your mental health.
Since 2016, mental health professionals say their caseloads are increasing, and most new caseloads are people suffering PTSD because of the trauma Trump is causing them. Even if his cruel and hate filled policies don’t affect you or your loved ones directly, the threat of violence, the taking away of benefits and freedoms, and the mocking hatred is always there, like a black heaviness in the room. The toxic rhetoric he and his base use against anyone who doesn’t act, believe and look the way they do never goes away, and it’s getting worse. Now he’s goading his base (through his Twitter account) to actual violence against anyone who dares to criticize him or his policies. I have no doubt he’s trying to rile up the police, the biker gangs, the gun nuts, and others to form a militia against liberals and progressives (and even moderates), truthtellers, and the lovers of democracy. Make no mistake: he’s gathering an army of brownshirts to terrorize, attack, and even kill anyone who isn’t on his side.
My point is that politics and religion in 2019 is very much tied up with narcissistic abuse and sociopathy, and to not address the fact this problem is now happening on a nationwide or even worldwide scale (and perhaps has been for a long time) is to deny that it is happening at all. To not write about current events in light of narcissism and sociopathy would be irresponsible.
My first goal in writing about these issues is to educate and make those who might not have connected this presidency with the problem of narcissistic abuse more aware that it is happening. With awareness and education, people are more equipped to see what is happening, when it’s happening, the various “tricks” they use (gaslighting, lying, blame shifting, demonization of groups, black and white thinking, employing “flying monkeys”, etc.) and take appropriate action or defense measures to guard against it.
Since most of us can’t go “no contact” with Trump (unless we have the means to emigrate to another country), we must stay vigilant and aware of the myriad ways he and his “flying monkeys” abuse us (he abuses his own base too, but they are in denial, like the cult members they are). At the same time, we can’t forget about our families, our friends, and try to enjoy our lives as best we can. The little things in life matter too. We can (and must) take breaks from the news, and focus on more positive things, and try to find joy wherever we can.
Remember that even in the most depressing and darkest of circumstances, it is possible to find joy. Read The Diary of Anne Frank for inspiration and strength. If you believe in God, pray. If you don’t, do positive things for yourself and others. Give (and get) lots of hugs. Volunteer. Adopt an animal. Do good things in your community. Everything you do makes a difference.
Don’t put on horse blinders and pretend what’s happening isn’t, but in the midst of all the black chaos, take time out for joy and friendship. Also remember that Trump is an angry, lost soul who has neither joy or true friends and never will. You are better than that and that’s why he hates us.
The other reason I write about politics and religion is because it’s a way to personally cope with what’s happening. Just as I wrote about my own abuse as a survivor of a narcissistic family and emotionally abusive marriage in order to heal, it’s also necessary for me to write about the ways I feel abused by Trump and his regime in order to keep my sanity. Otherwise I might completely give up hope and put a bullet in my head.
I stayed glued to my television during the Michael Cohen testimony today. I honestly think that although Cohen made some bad choices and became the shady “fixer” for Trump (and ruined his own life in making the choices he did), he is essentially a good guy who was seduced by Trump’s fake glitter and false promises of wealth.
I believe Cohen redeemed himself today. He showed deep remorse for his past actions and a sincere willingness to change, especially for the sake of his family, who he acknowledges have been hurt by his past actions.
The broken, sad faced Cohen having a chance at redemption and handling himself so well under the intense questioning (and sometimes bullying) he had to endure today was moving enough, but Chairman Elijah Cummings’ emotional closing speech made me lose it completely (Cohen was wiping away tears himself).
Watch and share this video (contained in the linked article). This is destined to become a historic speech and today will prove to be a historic day. Cummings’ powerful words give me hope that not just Cohen, but America too, can be redeemed and we can return to our former greatness. (He’s wrong that there can be a “better Donald Trump” though — malignant narcissists like him can’t change).
This is a book everyone who cares about saving democracy in America needs to read, so I’m reposting this review I wrote in September 2017.
If you do read it, don’t expect to get much sleep. It’s as scary as anything Stephen King ever wrote, but is based on extensive research. I have seen some of its predictions come to pass, and so have you.
A similar book is Dark Money by Jane Meyer. I have read that too, even though I didn’t review it.
I just finished reading Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy McLean. This book was as creepy as anything Stephen King ever wrote, but it isn’t a horror novel or even fiction. It’s a well-researched expose of how America lost its way — and it started a lot earlier than you thought. It also wasn’t an accident. Everything up to and including public attitudes about democracy and the rightward shift of both parties was planned down to the smallest detail decades ago.
It all started innocuously enough with an ultra-conservative economist named James McGill Buchanan in the early 1950s. Buchanan was a libertarian who believed that the New Deal, labor unions, and the social safety net were assaults on true freedom (to him and others like him, “freedom” meant the right of property owners to keep all…
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Good post here, and I agree with every word. There needs to be more bipartisanship in the Senate, and partisan obstructionist Mitch McConnell needs to go. He is worse than useless. He also has way too much power. McConnell’s obstructionism and repeated blocking of letting the senators vote on reopening the government is selfish and dangerous, and is hurting thousands of government workers and other innocent people.
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How can the United States Senate be pulled back from the disaster of winner-take-all, scorched-earth partisanship? The only answer I can think of that could work is a return of the filibuster for all Presidential appointments. If the standard for Senate confirmation of an appointment is sixty votes (3/5), or even 66 (2/3), a number of features of the system are changed:
Presidents would have to choose nominees who are able to get significant bipartisan support, who are not radical and divisive, or of questionable qualifications.
Senate majority leaders could not rely on party-line votes to approve nominations.
Senators would have to (at least some of them) actually think about the nominees (rather than just vote the party line) and debate (rather than just yell at each other) their qualifications.
Candidates for the Senate and President who take uncompromising positions would become less attractive.
The Senate could become more like…
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Originally posted on January 28, 2018. Comments are welcome.
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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I’m condensing and editing this from a Twitter thread I wrote the day after the midterm elections.
Now that the midterms are finally over (although they aren’t really: there are still votes coming in in some places, and there may even be recounts in states like Florida and Georgia), my biggest takeaway is this: we can never, ever take democracy for granted. We can’t assume it’s a gift that once given, just stays.
Because that is not the way democracy works. It must be constantly maintained, not by politicians, not by pundits on TV, not by activists. It must be maintained by regular people like you and me. Unfortunately, for many years, we took democracy for granted and thought we could stay uninvolved in politics and let others do the hard work. But once a large percentage of the population ceases to care to the point that they don’t even vote, democracy is in trouble. The very term democracy indicates that its existence depends on The People. It depends on us.
Republicans were able to seize so much power because we let them. Although other factors played a part in Trump winning, in 2016, we didn’t turn out in sufficient numbers at the polls to overcome everything that was stacked against us. But those things were never insurmountable. There are just too many of us. Yes, Hillary won the popular vote (and I’m one of those people who think the electoral college should be abolished), Russians may well have influenced the results, gerrymandering and voter suppression in some states is out of control, etc. But, in spite of all the obstacles the GOP tried to set against us, the results in 2016 were still close. Had we all voted (and not voted for third party candidates like Jill Stein), Trump would have lost and instead of becoming POTUS, today he’d be just another washed up and forgotten reality TV star who once ran for president.
But he is president, and now that we are stuck with him (for now), we are all learning an extremely sobering lesson in just how fragile democracy is, and just how easily one despotic man with too much power can start to dismantle all our checks and balances, and destroy democracy itself. Many Americans, including myself, used to think about Nazi Germany and wonder how it could have happened. We are now seeing in real time how it happened: specifically, how seemingly normal people could come to support a murderous fascist tyrant.
We woke up, perhaps at one minute before midnight, but still not too late to flip Congress back to Democratic rule, which will mean there will be some vital checks put back on this presidency. As a result, Trump, though he will still rage and threaten and bully the free press, our institutions, and everyone he doesn’t like, won’t be able to push through his tyrannical and cruel policies the way he has been able to over the past two years. We will be able to relax just a little. But we can never again become complacent.
Were it not for the efforts of the Resistance, and even more importantly, regular folks of all races, creeds, religions, income levels, and lifestyles, turning out in record numbers to vote (many voting for the first time because they realized democracy itself was on the line) and had this election drawn a tepid turnout like other recent elections, we would have lost the House. Instead of feeling hopeful and relieved, we’d be staring down into a black abyss of unfettered tyranny right now.
Had we lost, we would now be freefalling into fascism and Trump would have unchecked power, free to do anything he wanted to do. We would have lost our democracy and would soon become a dictatorship.
Things are far from perfect. We still have a heavily Republican Senate and a Judiciary that is moving further to the right and will most likely continue to do so as long as Trump retains the presidency. But the good news is, Trump can no longer just do anything he wants, and he can’t break the law, because the new Congress will hold him accountable if he does. The Russia investigation will continue, and the new Congress will make sure Trump doesn’t get to run away from or obstruct justice, unlike our current GOP Congress, which enables his crimes and lack of ethics. He can also be forced to show his tax returns. So even though Republicans are still top heavy in the Trump White House, we are in much better shape than we were before the election. Trump can scream and toss insults and threatens all he wants, but at the end of the day, he simply won’t be able to get much done.
A Democratic Congress can also start impeachment proceedings. Before last night, Democrats had no power to do anything. The only power we had was our vote. And we exercised it in record numbers. Had it not been for us using that hard won right, and sitting at home, democracy would have died.
We’re not out of the woods yet though. This isn’t over. We still have a lot more work left to to do. Trump has done incredible damage which may take generations to repair. Republicans (which has become a fascist party since Trump) still have too much power. But we, the People, took back some of that power with our votes, and that is a good beginning.
I hope we all learned a lesson that democracy takes WORK. We have the right to vote, and we need to use it — or possibly lose it! Losing our right to vote can happen much more easily than you think. There are people in high levels in government that would love nothing more than to take away our right to vote. We can never assume others will do the work of democracy for us. The responsibility falls on us. A government run by the People requires the input of the People. There’s no way around it. Voting in record numbers is essential.
If we continue to vote in the kinds of numbers we had on Election Night, we can eventually overturn this entire sorry regime and finally have the kind of inclusive, compassionate, prosperous, caring, honest, and fair government WE, not the oligarchs and religious extremists, want: one that works for the People, not just the ultra rich and corporations.
If you voted, you should feel proud that you helped to save democracy. I think last night proved that no amount of voter suppression or GOP cheating is enough to overcome huge numbers of people voting.
We still have a long road ahead of us and a country to save. Let’s get going!
In recent years, voting has become a low priority among many people, especially young people. They believe their one vote doesn’t matter and some even believe elections are rigged and voting doesn’t count.
But it does. It’s true there has been some unfair rigging of the elections in recent years, due to Republican gerrymandering, attempts at voter suppression, purges of the voter rolls (this has been a big problem this year but it’s also being caught and dealt with), huge donations to GOP politicians from SuperPACs, billionaire oligarchs, and probable help from other countries too.
But there are a lot more of us who hate what the Trump GOP has been doing and the way they have been lining up behind Trump and enabling his destructive policies and rhetoric, instead of providing a check on what he does. The Republican Party has lost many people in the past two years, including some notables like George Will, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace (the last two formerly worked in the George W. Bush administration). In spite of their conservatism, they have become voices for the Resistance. Most of these former Republicans have decided to vote a straight blue (Democratic) ticket in the midterms to save our democracy from encroaching authoritarianism — even if that means they have to hold their nose about ideological issues that are too liberal for their taste.
These conservatives realize that at this juncture, a politician’s specific ideology is less important than where they stand about Trump vs. democracy itself — and the Republican Party is no longer the freedom-loving party of Lincoln, Reagan, or even John McCain. It’s become a party that goes against most core American values, and celebrates racism, hatred, violence, ruthlessness, misogyny, corruption, misinformation, lies, greed, and exclusion. Since Trump’s election, it has moved to the extreme right, into fascism. This is not hyperbole; it is the new reality. Trump can do a whole lot less damage to our American way of life when there are some much needed checks and balances put back into place, and right now, that means we need a majority of Democrats in the House and hopefully the Senate too. It’s not ideological or partisan; it’s just common sense, since the Republican Party has become so extreme and untrustworthy (and having all three branches of government under the control of one party is never a good thing anyway).
Smart conservatives realize all this, and will be joining Democrats and voting for Democratic politicians in this election. Polls are also saying that many more Millennials are planning to vote than have in past elections (even though many still plan to sit it out). They don’t want to inherit the bleak future that looms should Republicans maintain complete power.
So, in spite of attempts to suppress our votes, gerrymander districts, spread disinformation and lies about Democrats (that’s a whole other topic I may or may not write about), and fix electronic voting machines (this has been a problem in Texas in particular, with straight Democratic voters saying their votes were changed to Ted Cruz), I’m almost certain if we show up in great enough numbers, we can beat all the GOP’s efforts to cheat their way into a win (and cheat they must, since this party no longer offers anything of value to We, the People).
If you’re thinking about skipping voting, think about the future that awaits with an all- Republican government that’s in lockstep with Trump and lets him do whatever he wants. Think about having no checks and balances on this president, and what that could (and probably will) mean for all of us, for humanity, and for the planet itself. Even if you don’t care about yourself, think about the kind of future such an America holds for your children or grandchildren.
Elections have actually been won on one or two votes. Your vote carries a lot more weight in a midterm election than in a presidential one, since you’re voting for people at the state, rather than national, level. There are services offering rides to the polls, if it’s difficult for you to get there. Don’t feel guilty about calling in to work that day (Election Day really should be a national holiday) if they don’t allow time off for you to vote. Or vote early, if you still can. If you’re not registered, in most states you can register the same day you vote. So don’t let that hold you back either.
It may be more tempting to sit home than go out in the cold or the rain and stand on line waiting to do something that seems like it might not matter. Don’t! Your vote does matter. If all of us who normally might sit out the midterms (I always did until now) give into what’s easiest and requires the least amount of effort in this election, all three branches of government will remain under Republican control and you or your loved ones could lose many if not all of the rights and freedoms you take for granted right now. The safety net (including Social Security and Medicare) would also be decimated and possibly abolished at some point. Do you want that for yourself? Do you want that for your loved ones, who may be elderly or disabled and depend on those services (which are earned benefits, not entitlements) for their survival? I know I don’t! I have paid a portion of my paycheck into those services almost every year since 1976 and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them steal my investment out from under me, to pay for the trillion dollar deficit they caused by their ridiculous and destructive tax cut for the rich!
Think of this too: people have fought and even died for your right to vote. Women and black people couldn’t always vote. That right wasn’t won easily, and many people died fighting for it. So to not exercise your right to vote is to disrespect the people who sacrificed their lives for you.
So, taking all this into account, if you haven’t already voted, please get to the polls on Tuesday, November 6th. It costs you nothing except the gas, and requires only a few hours out of your day. Isn’t that worth it to save democracy and prevent fascism from completely taking over? If you don’t vote, you are voting against democracy, against progress, against our American way of life. If you don’t vote, you are actually voting for unchecked power of a dangerous, despotic leader who has already done enormous damage and is only just getting started.
This is the most important election in a lifetime. VOTE!
This is a very powerful and well written post from one of my favorite blogs, JohnPavlovitz.com.
Warning: it may be triggering to survivors of abuse.