The bullies are winning and my heart is breaking.

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Today I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and recovering from some terrible illness at the same time.  I have no energy.    I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep.  But I can’t sleep because I’m so on edge.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and I’ve spent the entire day lying in bed. I’m depressed and anxious and everything hurts.  I’m stress-eating, doing pretty much nothing but staring at the ceiling and dropping the crumbs from the loaf of lemon pound cake I bought this morning all over my clean sheets.  At least I haven’t watched the news today (I need a break from it, after this past week).   I’ve been trying to read a new book I just bought, but I can’t concentrate.  I must have read the same page about ten times and didn’t comprehend a word of what I read.

As a survivor of narcissistic and sexual abuse, this whole Kavanaugh drama that’s been on the news 24/7 for almost two weeks now has been extremely triggering and making my C-PTSD symptoms flare up.  It’s not much comfort to know I’m far from alone though.  What this government is doing is narcissistic abuse writ large, and it’s negatively affecting millions of women and children, people of color, immigrants, and even many men.  Brett Kavanaugh is an abuser.  Even if he wasn’t a sexual predator (and I think there’s enough evidence that he is), he is predator and an abuser of women.  You can tell by his smug demeanor and his fake tears, by his narcissistic rage, by his entitlement, and by his abuser non-apology (“I didn’t mean to lose control, but SHE made me do it”).  Trump loves Kavanaugh because he’s a mirror image of himself and he will do his bidding and make him immune to the law.

So now that this predator, serial liar, and all around awful person has been confirmed to the highest court in the land, I feel personally threatened.  Not by Kavanaugh personally, since I will never have to deal with him.   I feel threatened by this entire regime which seems to grow stronger and meaner every day.  The abuse they inflict seems to keep getting worse, and now it’s getting personal.   First there was the Muslim ban, then the horrible treatment of the people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, there was Heather Heyer being killed in Charlottesville by a white supremacist, and then football players taking a knee and being condemned for that.   As terrible as those things were, they didn’t seem that personal.  They were just terrible news stories, distant from my own life.  I still had hope things would turn around, people would wake up to what was happening, and good would triumph over evil.

But real life isn’t a movie with a happy ending, and things continued to deteriorate.   There were reports of  migrant kids from Central America locked in cages and forcibly separated from their parents.  I remember waking up in cold sweats from nightmares about little Hispanic children crying and screaming behind bars in cold dark cages, reaching their little hands out through the bars toward me, tears streaming down their small brown faces, and not being able to do a thing to help them except pray for them.  My nightmare wasn’t far off from the reality of what was actually happening.  Kids in concentration camps.  No privacy, not enough food, forced to drink dirty water, denied medical care or comfort.  Provided only with an aluminum foil blanket for warmth.  Ripped from their mothers’ arms and then not even allowed to comfort each other.  Abused and mocked by cruel, sociopathic guards in some cases.  Children fortunate enough to be returned to their parents looked shell shocked, their faces devoid of emotion.  They’d obviously been traumatized and were forced to  bury their feelings because living like that, in cages, away from the family that loved them, not understanding what they did wrong to deserve such treatment, hurt too much.  These little kids will be damaged for life, because a fat orange faced dictator felt like it was necessary to “deter” immigrants from coming here, and these innocent little lives were used as a tool and a warning.

And this travesty is happening in America.  In the land of the free.  In the the shining city on a hill.  “It can’t happen here.”  Really?  Oh, yes, it can.  And it is.   Who will be targeted next?

Women.   Women are being targeted now.  Especially women who dare to come forward and tell the truth about their abusers.   This regime has no empathy for survivors of abuse, sexual or otherwise, especially if they’re female.   Trump mocked Dr. Christine Ford at one of his rallies, and his supporters cheered.   A sexual predator gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, after lying under oath, committing perjury, and after a sham FBI investigation was run that turned out to be nothing more than a way to get “the left” to shut up.

Now Democrats and liberals are being targeted.    I avoid reading Trump’s tweets, but I couldn’t ignore this one, because it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck:

You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left wing mob.  Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern.  Republicans believe in the rule of the law – not the rule of the mob.

Let’s unpack this tweet.  First of all, it is blatant gaslighting and projection, which this man does every day.   It’s the Party of Trump (formerly the Republican Party), that has become extreme and dangerous, they are the ones who are trying to install a fascist, authoritarian government, remove our rights and freedoms, and now they appear to want to squash the First Amendment rights of anyone who doesn’t fawn at Trump’s feet.

I have never heard any president in my lifetime ever refer to the opposite party as a “mob” or “dangerous.”   Such labels were reserved for outside enemies, like ISIS or Al-Qaeda.  Our protests have been peaceful, much more peaceful than the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that ended in the death of a counterprotester, or all the hate-filled Trump rallies where his followers chant mindlessly, “Lock her up!  Lock her up!” two years after Hillary lost the election (even though she didn’t lose the popular vote) — and even though repeated investigations found she was innocent of any wrongdoing.   THEY are the mob, not us.  The Trump party does NOT believe in the rule of law because its leaders are corrupt to the core and break the law every day.  Its followers are fueled by hate and fear, and they are growing more aggressive, as Trump stokes their rage at his rallies and encourages bullying and violence against anyone who is different from them, or anyone who doesn’t worship Trump, which means most of us.  I fear there is going to be a crackdown against us very soon, a curtailment of our rights, even though we have done nothing wrong.

In America, the bullies are winning.  Evil is winning.  It’s so triggering.  I am reminded of being the bullied, sensitive kid at school who was chased home every day by a rowdy group of cruel boys and mocked by the popular girls because of my social awkwardness.   Our president is a sadistic bully and he is surrounded by and rewards other sadistic bullies, while gaslighting and blaming and cruelly mocking everyone who has ever been a victim — or even anyone who is just a decent human being — by him and his merry band of flying monkeys.

When I think back to two years ago, or even a year ago, I realize with a jolt how much worse things have become since then — and much worse than I ever thought they could get.  I certainly thought Trump would have been impeached or removed under the 25th Amendment by now, but nothing he does or says — locking kids in cages, committing treasonous acts with Putin and Kim Jong Un in plain sight, alienating our allies, mocking women and abuse survivors who are brave enough to come forward and tell their stories — nothing at all seems to force him to be accountable.   He is apparently already above the law.  His new SCOTUS pick, Kavanaugh, was chosen primarily because he will make sure Trump stays above the law and is never held accountable for his many criminal acts and brutal deeds.    Our system of checks and balances has been hacked away at and has failed us, and now all three branches of government are completely under Trump’s control.

Even the breaking news story the other day in the New York Times that provided proof that Trump is a tax cheat and fraud who lied about his inheritance and businesses,  made barely a blip in the news.  It got buried under all the Kavanaugh drama, and no one even seems to care.  No one is going to hold him accountable for his crimes.   Even if the Mueller investigation somehow isn’t shut down,  Trump will skate, no matter how bad the charges may be.

Things have gotten worse, so much worse.  I feel it in my very cells.  It’s different now than it was even a few weeks ago.  Trump is consolidating power, he’s become more blatant and open in his cruelty and his lackeys don’t even try to hide behind a pleasant facade anymore (Lindsey Graham is a good example —  it’s almost like he’s possessed or suddenly removed his “soft spoken southern gentleman” skin suit).

The GOP has declared open season on women who dare to call out a man for abuse or for rape, and on all Democrats.   This isn’t normal.   A president is supposed to bring people together, not divide them.   Democrats have been demonized and identified as the enemy, and Trump’s tweet is preparing his base for aggression and violence against us.  To Trump and his supporters, we are the enemy, every bit as bad if not worse than ISIS.  We are fair game for whatever Trump wants them to dish out.   Martial law and curtailment of our freedom of speech is probably next.   We may even be rounded up and put in reeducation or forced labor camps.  Private prisons can make a hefty profit off our free labor.

As a Democrat and a woman and abuse survivor, I don’t feel safe in this country anymore.  I’m hypervigilant and constantly stressed.   Things seem to get better for awhile, I see a ray of hope — and then something happens and it feels like I’m on the Titanic as it was sinking, knowing there’s no way to save myself.  Or like I’m in hell, trapped in a torturous game of two steps forward, three steps back, for all eternity.   It’s as if I’m back in my abusive marriage, only this is worse because there’s no escape, no way to go “no contact.”  Trump dominates everything, he’s an oppressive presence even when I’m not seeing or hearing him.   I feel like I can’t breathe.  I wish I could flee the country, but I lack the means to do that.    And I’m so jealous of those who will be able to.

If things have gotten this much worse in less than two years, I’m absolutely petrified of what is coming down the pike next year, or two years hence.   I lack the right kind of emotional makeup to be able to survive living in a fascist dictatorship and once it’s established (if we lose the midterms I am sure it will be), all I have to look forward to is the relief of death.   I worry about my children facing a future under such a cruel and heartless regime, where my daughter can be targeted because of her gender, and my son can be targeted because of his sexual orientation.   I don’t feel like they’re safe here either and I worry about them.

Besides being terrified, I’m also heartbroken.   I remember the way things used to be here in America, how bright the future seemed.  I remember the way we took our many freedoms and rights for granted and never dreamed anything like this could happen.  I’m filled with grief so profound and heavy I can barely move.    I often wonder if this is the way women felt in Afghanistan or Iran before Sharia Law took over or the way the people of Germany felt in 1934 before Hitler seized total power.

I never thought it would happen here.  But it has.  America is dying, and this is what is feels like.

Please pray for us.

*****

Here is a similar, but more hopeful, article from Chris Kratzer’s amazing blog.  Its central message is that if what is happening in America makes you feel sick, nauseous, angry, sad, fearful, or disgusted, there is nothing wrong with you.  In fact, if you feel those things, it’s an indication you have a working soul.

If Today, Your Heart Breaks and Your Hope Is Fading

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The Divide and Conquer tactics used by the GOP to divide the left.

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This cartoon clearly shows how Divide and Conquer works.

 

I think my experience as a survivor of narcissistic abuse and my subsequent “crash course” in how this type of abuse works (which is the original reason I started this blog)  is the primary reason I am now so aware of the narcissistic abuse that the Trump administration is inflicting on America and the whole world (and yes, that even includes his supporters, who are codependent to him as they would be to an abusive spouse or parent — or are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome).

One of the Machiavellian tactics used by malignant narcissist Trump and his equally sociopathic regime (and it IS a regime, which is why I call it that)  is Divide and Conquer.  Malignant narcissists and other Dark Triad people use D&C as a way to manipulate and control their marks.  Dividing people works, because it’s easier to take control over them when they are not united as an opposing force because they are too busy fighting each other to see the real danger right in front of them.

There are many examples of Divide and Conquer used by the Trump regime, but some are less obvious than others.  Rallying his supporters to hate journalists and the “fake news,” or using racist dog whistles to rile up his base against “the Other”  are more obvious examples that can be fairly easily detected by anyone who follows the news and is against the Trump regime.

One of the less obvious D&C tactics are insidious ploys to divide “the left.”   I need to mention here that “the left” is no longer limited to latte sipping East Coast intellectuals and artists, socialist Millennials, and pot smoking aging hippies.   It now refers to anyone who is against Trump and his regime.   We are at a point in history where even moderate conservatives who oppose this president (the so called “Never Trumpers”) are now part of “the left.”  George W. Bush could be considered a leftist now — that is how far right the Overton Window has moved in recent years.   But I digress.

In the past few days, I have noticed a smear campaign being used against Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.  Liberals and Democrats on Twitter have been arguing and fighting amongst themselves (even blocking other people on the left who otherwise agree with them politically), over whether Nancy Pelosi should keep her job in the House or be replaced with someone younger and “more relevant.”

It turns out this smear campaign was started by the GOP and specifically Trump, who constantly tweets derogatory and inflammatory things about her, knowing she is controversial to people on the left to begin with.   Here is a tweet from the other day that seemed to be the catalyst for the current discord:

Democrats, please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi. She is a wonderful person whose ideas & policies may be bad, but who should definitely be given a 4th chance. She is trying very hard & has every right to take down the Democrat Party if she has veered too far left!

What he’s doing is taking advantage of the fact Pelosi is already controversial to divide the left even further and create deeper discord and division.  His goal is to provide a distraction from the real damage he and his regime are doing while simultaneously making the left lose focus on who the real enemy here is — and it is not Nancy Pelosi.

This is a sneaky and insidious way to divide (and subsequently conquer) Trump’s enemies and it’s being used because IT WORKS.    It’s so insidious that unless we have received an education in how to spot narcissistic abuse and Machiavellianism, we may not even be aware that we are just marks being used and manipulated by a sociopathic leader for his own benefit.

That Trump is using a common technique known to abusers and malignant narcissists is as obvious to me as the sky is blue, but it may not be so obvious to others not familiar with how narcissistic abuse works.    I recommend people opposed to Donald Trump and his regime read The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout.  This blog also features many articles about narcissistic abuse, or if you prefer, just Google “narcissism” or “narcissistic abuse” to find other blogs, articles, and resources about this pervasive problem that begins in families and between individuals and works its dark magic all the way up to our highest world leaders.

Trump is deliberately isolating us from our foreign allies.

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Trump refuses to shake Angela Merkel’s hand at a meeting in the White House last year.  Notice how she is trying to engage him but he refuses.  This is deliberate on his part.

Trump  is busy imposing sanctions on countries we have always been friendly with, creating trade wars with these countries, so now they are imposing tariffs.   This, of course, will drive up the prices of everything even higher (while our wages remain as stagnant as they’ve always been).   Notice how the price of gas has skyrocketed since we pulled out of the Iran deal?

But it’s about a lot more than trade wars.  It’s not just Middle Eastern countries Trump is reneging on deals with or putting sanctions on.  No, Trump is deliberately alienating our former allies in Canada and advanced Western European democracies (not to mention Mexico, our formerly friendly neighbor to the south),  in favor of aligning us with other authoritarian regimes, regardless of their ideology — Russia, NK, China, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious examples.  Because none of these regimes are democracies and are in fact brutal dictatorships, they could not be of help to us.  They serve as Trump’s allies and even as his flying monkeys, even if he is only using them for his own selfish ends and to enrich himself, his family, and his benefactor cronies.

It’s entirely predictable Trump would do this. Like all narcissistic abusers, he is separating us from outside parties who could or would help us if we needed it (and we might).  Abusers do the same thing: they isolate their partners from friends & family so the victim is totally isolated & alone and has no where to turn when things get really ugly or their lives are in danger.   Isolating is a very effective technique used by sociopathic narcissists to weaken and cripple their victims from ever leaving or getting help from outside parties.  Isolationism and alienating former allies has the same effect on the populace of a country cursed with an authoritarian, sociopathic leader.

Not only will there be no help coming to rescue us after Trump has turned all our allies into our enemies, we will also be left behind technologically, scientifically, educationally, socially and in every other way, as the rest of the developed world moves far ahead of us, while we regress back into the Dark Ages.   It’s just so sad, so incredibly sad.

 

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).

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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.

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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):

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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.

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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!

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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.

We need a lot more awareness about narcissism and psychopathy.

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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 a lot more attention than they used to, they still don’t get nearly enough.   There are a few terms formerly confined to the narcissistic abuse community such as  “gaslighting” and “blame shifting” that have recently become household words since Trump took office, but if you try to talk about narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder or malignant narcissism with most people you will still usually get a blank stare, especially if you try to talk about it in regard to the dangers these disorders pose to us all when a world leader is most likely afflicted with one or more of them.

Until — and if — the general public receives education in how these personality disorders work and how to recognize them, people will still fall prey to the phony charm and false promises of a narcissist in their personal lives, staying with friends and family members who are psychologically destroying them.  But even worse than that, people will still believe the lies and promises of con-men like Donald Trump or Adolf Hitler.  They will keep trying to find the goodness that must exist under all the flash and bluster, even though in all likelihood, there is nothing hiding under the mask but a black void of hate and fear.

Hitler rose to power because he promised to “make Germany great again.”  He promised jobs, a thriving economy, and a better life for all Germans, and people believed him, at least at first.  Later, when the deportations and roundups began, and militarized police began knocking on doors late at night, people may have begun to suspect Hitler was dangerous, but they still wanted to believe he was what Germany needed, so they told themselves what he was doing wasn’t really that bad or even was necessary (but well-meaning).   This is called “normalization” and it happens both in countries and in families headed by a malignant narcissist.    When there are too many outrages, people can’t process them normally, and things that were once seen as outrageous or shocking begin to seem normal.   As the dividing line between what is “normal” and what is “not normal” continues to shift, more and more “not normal” behavior is tolerated.   This is how a psychopathic or narcissistic leader conditions average, non-sociopathic people to accept the unthinkable.   It takes time, but eventually even genocide begins to be seen as acceptable or at least doesn’t raise any eyebrows.

hitler

Leaders with malignant narcissism and/or psychopathy tend to be very charismatic and forceful.   They seem extremely confident and this makes people trust them.   They say things like, “I alone can fix it” (this is always a red flag) or “I am all you need.”  They make lofty and unrealistic promises.  They brag about past accomplishments and  exaggerate what they have accomplished (which often wasn’t much).  They take credit for things others have done.  Whenever they are found to be lacking, or when they are called out for their lies and hypocrisy, they will never accept that blame and will either deny their wrongdoing, or blame it on someone else.   They never apologize.

They may seem to care about you, but they don’t, for they have no empathy.   They see everything in black and white.   They are blind to nuance in others.   You are not a person to a narcissistic or psychopathic leader: if you are not useful to them in some way (if you are useful they will shower you with praise — in relationships this is called “love-bombing”),  then you are the enemy.    And when you become an enemy, you are fair game for vengeance.   These people believe in revenge and “getting back at” their perceived enemies.

They speak in superlatives.  What they have done is always the best, the biggest, the most, the greatest.  They had the biggest crowd at their inauguration, they have created the most jobs, and they are the most beloved or respected leader in the entire world or even in all of history.   If their lies or misdeeds are pointed out to them, they become enraged.  Sometimes this rage manifests as self pity, and their self pity is as grandiose as their self-aggrandizement.  When they think they’ve been wronged, no one else has ever been so wronged or so mistreated as they have been!  They turn self pity into another contest of superlatives:  Trump whining to a group of Boy Scouts about how he was the most misunderstood and poorly treated politician in American history!

If they have deemed you an enemy (which doesn’t take a lot — you need only disagree with them to be devalued), you are the worst person on the face of the planet and have no redeeming qualities.  You will be devalued and called hurtful names, and that’s just for starters.    Leaders with malignant narcissism are very paranoid and always suspect others — often their political rivals or people who merely disagree with them, but have no ill intentions — of plotting against them, talking badly about them, or trying to destroy them or take away their power.    They pre-emptively fight back by attempting to discredit, dehumanize, or destroy their rivals or perceived enemies.

These kinds of leaders (who are almost always male) are fixated on toxic masculinity.  They admire and emulate those who they see as “strong.”  Thus, they glorify war, forceful oppression, abuse of power,  police brutality, and total control.   They value authoritarianism much more highly than democracy, which requires cooperation and some semblance of empathy.   They look down on higher values like compassion, humility, forgiveness, or love as “weak” or “feminine.”   They also like to “punch down” — which means enacting draconian policies or shifting blame onto the most  vulnerable or the weakest.   It’s schoolyard bully behavior writ large.  They hate anything they see as soft or vulnerable or “weak” because they are so afraid of their own vulnerabilities.   Deep inside, they have little to no self esteem and hate themselves, though they will not ever admit it and may not even be aware of it.   They puff themselves up to mask their own feelings of worthlessness.

Because these kinds of leaders can initially convince people they are strong and powerful and can fix every problem themselves, and because they seem so confident in their ability to do so, people continue to be duped by them and believe the lies they tell.    They ignore the red flags (which includes making lofty promises and saying “they alone” can fix things), because they have not been educated in what to look for.

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If awareness and education about NPD, malignant narcissism, and psychopathy were more widespread (perhaps it should even be a required part of school curriculums), people would learn how to recognize the red flags and avoid such people in their personal lives — and avoid voting for leaders who have these traits.   As long as people remain ignorant about the red flags of these personality disorders, we will still be vulnerable to electing sociopathic, dangerous leaders and being taken in by dangerous people in our personal lives.   We will still find ourselves under the thrall of people and leaders who see us as nothing but marks.

All that being said, there has been more awareness about this problem since at least the 1990s.   I wrote about the history of narcissism/narcissistic abuse awareness over the decades in this two part post — please give it a read!

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 1) 

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 2)  

So things are better than they’ve ever been, but we still have a long way to go.   If there was enough awareness, we would not be in danger of repeating what happened during the Holocaust.

 

Narcissism, politicians, and Trump.

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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.

 

“Now More Than Ever:” On Straitjacketing Trump

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The phrase Now more than ever has been used liberally in our media since November last year, more often than not to sell something. The New York Times uses it to push subscriptions, for example, and it is not alone in this. Now more than ever did not matter, though, when the NYT had an opportunity to alert America to the clear and imminent dangers presented by the GOP candidate in 2016. The paper, like all others, disregarded repeated explicit warnings sent to it by mental health professionals who described Trump’s fixed, inflexible character defect with its predictable manifestations and consequences for the country and the world.

Another phrase one hears often these days is “future historians” — as in, future historians will be perplexed trying to figure out why America elected the least qualified and most dangerous person in the country for president.

There are solid reasons why this…

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Fake empathy.

Most US Presidents, following a national disaster like Harvey, have spent time with survivors — comforting and talking to them, serving them food, and sharing hugs and even tears.

Donald Trump not only took several days to visit the people of Houston after Harvey left it devastated, when he arrived there, he spent more time bragging about the size of the crowds (as if he was at one of his rallies instead of at shelters where he had a captive audience) and what a “huge storm” Harvey had been.  He talked more about how Texas could handle things because it was so strong than he did actually offering words of support and comfort to its people.    Most outrageous of all, he told the survivors — people who had lost everything and were staying in crowded shelters — that they seemed “happy.”

Sure, he provided some good “optics” — picking up and kissing babies and pretending to serve food to the survivors — but his words to the people who were his captive audience were hollow, inappropriate to the occasion, and extremely awkward.   He also didn’t miss an opportunity to diss the media and Hillary Clinton.

The mainstream media gave him a pass, fawning all over him for having at least tried to act presidential, when they should have been calling him out on his inappropriate, callous, and outrageous words of “support” to these devastated people.

This morning he decided to put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), an Obama-era program that ensured that young people who were brought over from other countries as children — a program that required its recipients to either be working or attending school.   By ending DACA, he doomed these productive, intelligent young people to deportation back to the countries their parents brought them from (with a six month delay).   That would mean that these kids and young adults, the vast majority of who are high achievers and are benefiting our economy,  would lose everything.   They would be stranded in foreign lands they couldn’t remember, in some cases knowing absolutely no one.  For a party that calls itself “pro-family,” his heartless and cruel decision will tear families apart and destroy lives.

Trump also had a history of failing to acknowledge Americans who have died in tragic accidents, most recently the 12 sailors who died in an accident on a Coast Guard ship.   Not one word was ever mentioned about those sailors, but this was far from the first incident in which Trump — unlike past presidents — just didn’t seem to care.

Watching Trump, I believe he not only has no empathy, he also has no conscience.  That to me indicates a sociopathic, not merely narcissistic, personality.    He actually seems to delight in causing pain and suffering.  I do think he is in fact sadistic, and enjoys pushing policies that will traumatize and hurt people.

When he talked about Harvey, he seemed almost gleeful over how “big” and “powerful” the storm was.   He seemed almost proud of it and acted like the Houston survivors should be proud of it too, as if it were some national monument or sports record.  I think he could relate to the storm.  He can relate to anything that’s powerful and destructive and destroys lives, because destruction and chaos is the only thing he understands.

Now he’s traumatizing the entire country by playing chicken with an equally unhinged narcissistic sociopath using nuclear weapons.   Nuclear war is a real possibility.    We are in grave danger of annihilation.   But it’s just a game to these two — and we are pawns in their game.  We are expendable because we aren’t people; we are merely objects to be played or discarded at whim.   Trump’s ego is much more important than human life, and he is willing to kill us all to save his ego.

A friend told me her young daughter comes home everyday crying because she’s so afraid of nuclear war.   She’s just 12, and can’t sleep.  She can’t concentrate at school and is withdrawn and depressed.   My friend told me she has had to send her daughter to a therapist to try to address this trauma.   But this girl isn’t alone.  Many people are being traumatized by this president’s actions and threats, but he will never care.  Nor will he stop his destructive and dangerous behavior.

Going back to Harvey,  Joel Osteen, the multimillionaire Prosperity Gospel preacher who holds his church services in a huge stadium, refused to open the stadium to flood survivors until he was finally shamed into it.    He held a service to pray for the survivors– and passed around a collection plate for donations to the cause — even though the people at the service were the survivors themselves! Who does that?

Trump’s evangelical “spiritual advisers” offered only “thoughts and prayers” to the flood survivors– not any real tangible help such as money, food, clothing, or time spent comforting families. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with praying for people, but when “thoughts and prayers” are used as a substitution for any real help, they are as meaningless as a Hallmark card.

I’ve noticed this is something narcissists will do in lieu of offering any real help.  They will condescendingly say, “I will pray for you,” or promise you they will send their “thoughts and prayers.”   Another thing they will do is offer you phony and hollow platitudes, slogans, and sayings in place of actually offering you a listening ear, compassionate advice, or any real empathy. There’s a huge emotional disconnect — they can’t relate to you with any depth or as a person with real feelings.  Instead, they try to mollify you with a few canned words printed on a card or a meme — and then put a guilt trip on you if you aren’t grateful for their lame and shallow efforts at “comfort.”

They also victim-shame.   They airily tell you your life would be better if you just acted more happy, smiled more, or acted more positive.   Now sure, there’s a place for positive thinking, and I agree that positive people tend to draw in more positive things in life (I have seen this work for myself).  However, there is a limit to this.   There are times such an attitude is just plain callous and insensitive, a way of dismissing the very real needs of people who have suffered misfortune through no fault of their own.   Narcissists absolve themselves of any responsibility or having to offer any real help by insidiously blaming the victim by telling them “if only you were more happy/positive/smiled more, etc. ”

During his sermon for Harvey survivors, Osteen told the people — most who had just lost everything they owned — not to play the victim.   I’m sorry, but how are people who have just lost everything they owned playing the victim?   They are victims, and as such, they should be showered with real compassion, not condescending platitudes about positive thinking.   They should also not be expected to donate to their own cause (especially when Osteen himself owns a 15 million dollar home and is one of the wealthiest men in the country) and most of these people had no access to cash or their bank accounts.

I think this conscienceless, heartless administration has been especially hard emotionally on people who have suffered abuse at the hands of people like them and also on people who are empaths and very sensitive to their spiritual darkness.

 

Narcissistic abuse in Trumpistan.

Much has been written about Trump’s toxic psychology, specifically his malignant narcissism.  In spite of The Goldwater Rule (an agreement between mental health professionals to never diagnose someone they have not evaluated), so egregious is 45’s bad behavior that thousands of mental health professionals are breaking their own rule and speculating that he does indeed suffer from both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Psychopathy/Antisocial Personality Disorder (the non-clinical term is “malignant narcissism” when both disorders appear together).

But the problem isn’t limited to Trump.  Our “president”  (I’m sorry, but I refuse to refer to him as president without adding scare quotes for irony) has surrounded himself with a cabinet full of people as entitled-acting and seemingly lacking in human empathy and devoid of conscience as he is.   If they are not sociopathic themselves, they are enabling cowards who keep making excuses for Trump’s horrible behavior and the toxic, abusive things he says.   Some seem like programmed robots with no minds of their own, and others actually seem terrified to ever criticize or disobey him.

As for Trump’s pathologically loyal supporters, they really do seem unreachable.   No amount of logic, facts, reason, or even appealing emotionally to their “better angels” seem to move them.   Like Manson’s young followers who continued to defend Manson’s evil behavior and insane beliefs even to the point where they were willing to murder on his behalf, to his supporters, Trump really could “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and they would not budge from his side.    When presented with facts — even outright proof that their views are wrong — I’ve noticed a tendency for Trump supporters to double down on their pro-Trump beliefs (for example, if science has found that climate change is real, they will tell you that scientists are liars or are misinformed).   Much more so than his opponents, Trump supporters seem to resort to personal attacks or angry outbursts, and, when that fails, they will cut you off from further discussion, even blocking you on social media so they don’t have to engage with you further or have their views challenged.

There’s two other situations in which you see this unholy trinity of egotistic authoritarian leader, sociopathic or sycophantic lackeys and enablers, and followers who seem to have no ability to think or act for themselves:  in religious cults and in political dictatorships.   Trumpism resembles a cult, and in fact it is one.   Trump uses the same Machiavellian mind control tactics on his followers and those who carry out his bidding that cult leaders and dictators do.

I do believe we are being tested, and Trump is the logical conclusion of where we’ve been headed since at least the 1970s.   His election signals that we have reached rock bottom and are being forced to be accountable — or self-destruct.   If we are being tested, then it follows there is a solution, but it’s imperative that we do not allow ourselves to ever normalize what is happening or become so beaten down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually that we feel like there’s nothing we can do and succumb to the abuse — and yes, it is abuse.

The first step in fighting encroaching totalitarianism (let’s not mince words here because that’s exactly what this administration wants to install in place of democracy) is knowing the nature of the beast that threatens us, but to do that, we need to name it.

This is narcissistic abuse.   It’s just as incapacitating, soul-destroying, creativity crushing, sickness-engendering, trauma-inducing, and crazy-making as the kind wrought on us by malignantly narcissistic parents, teachers, “friends,” relatives, lovers, and spouses.

But it’s a lot worse than that.   It’s worse because it’s narcissistic abuse on a massive, nationwide, possibly worldwide scale.   Unlike a toxic family or workplace or marriage, it’s a lot harder to go No Contact when the leader of your country is an abuser.   In fact, going No Contact may not even be possible, should WWIII, enslavement, or internment in modern day concentration camps come to pass.  This is not hyperbole or conspiracy theory:   if things are allowed to continue the way they have been going since January,  a high-tech feudalism, modern day replay of Nazi Germany, or even a Christian Taliban with Old Testament law replacing the Constitution will be our new reality.

Because what we are enduring is narcissistic abuse writ large, the same terminology and lingo used by narcissistic abuse survivors to refer to abusive parents, coworkers, lovers, friends, bosses and spouses certainly applies here as well.

So I’m going to present some of these narcissistic abuse terms, define them for those who aren’t familiar with what they mean, and use examples of how they are being used by this administration in their attempts to control us, beat us down, and eventually destroy us.

Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is probably the most well-known term used by narcissistic abuse survivors, and can now be seen in many articles about Trump as well.   The term “gaslight” is taken from the 1942 psychological thriller of the same name, in which an abusive, sociopathic husband attempts to make his wife believe she is going insane by telling her she is imagining noises in the attic, the gaslights in the house going on and off by themselves, etc. when he is actually the one doing it without her knowledge.    Gaslighting someone is an insidious and cruel mind control technique intended to make the other person question their own observations and beliefs, and even reality itself.

Trump gaslights us all every day through his demonization of the press (it’s all “fake news” and journalists are “enemies of the people”),  liberals and Democrats, people who refuse to give him the worship he craves, and the truth itself, which he insists is a bunch of lies made up by the “lying media.”   Hitler did the same thing, calling the media “lugenpresse,” which literally means “fake news.”    He gaslights us by telling us that his abusive words and rhetoric are just “honesty” and that “political correctness” (avoiding abusive language and unfair policies) is the real evil that must be done away with.   The intention is to wear those of us who value the truth down mentally and emotionally, while at the same time normalizing and encouraging those who pacify him and believe or deny his lies.

Divide and Conquer.

Divide and Conquer is a technique in which a cult leader or other sociopath in a powerful position deliberately sets people or groups against one another, the end result being that once a large group is fighting among themselves, they are easier to control or unleash abuse on without them really being aware of what is really happening.

Divide and Conquer can be seen in this administration, in which Trump encourages aggressive and violent behavior by the supporters who attend his rallies against reporters, people of color, and non-supporters who disagree with Trump or his policies.

Language is a powerful tool and Trump uses it to divide and conquer.   Non-whites, Mexicans, Muslims, Democrats, and other groups Trump dislikes are dehumanized through language which normalizes aggression and violence against them.   “Rough them up,” he says when speaking about reporters, and then later defends himself by saying he’s “joking” (which is a form of gaslighting).    No other president has ever used language so destructively to deliberately encourage hatred and division, but it’s common among sociopaths and malignant narcissists like Trump.   It foments hatred among his supporters against “the Other,” and they begin to normalize aggression and violence, even acting out on it or threatening civil war against Trump’s enemies, since Trump seems to think it’s okay.    When a nation is divided in this manner, they are weakened and less unified, and thus easier to control and terrorize.

Projection.

Malignant narcissists have extremely fragile egos, and therefore cannot tolerate any criticism.  Deep inside they are actually painfully aware of where they fall short, but this will never enter their consciousness. Should you ever call them out on their faults, be prepared for them to retaliate against you or target you for abuse.    To defend against the knowledge of their own faults coming to awareness (thus destroying their image of themselves as perfect), they will project their worst traits onto others rather than admitting any fault in themselves.  The fact that they have an uncanny way of blaming others for the very things they themselves do indicates that subconsciously, they know where they fall short.

Trump’s projection onto others is most obvious in his tweets, in which he regularly blames others for things he himself is doing, or accuses others of having character traits he himself possesses.   Thus,  it’s others who are weak, who are obstructionists, who lie, who are “very bad people,” who are disloyal, who are not nice, or are “bad hombres” — never him.

Flying Monkeys.

Flying monkeys is another term borrowed from the movies — in this case, “The Wizard of Oz.”   When the Wicked Witch tried to keep Dorothy from getting to Oz by targeting her for torture and death, she enlisted the help of an army of flying monkeys to do her bidding.  At the end, after Dorothy accidentally killed the Witch, we finally found out the flying monkeys were really the Witch’s slaves and were actually grateful to Dorothy for freeing them.   In real life, flying monkeys may be lesser narcissists, or just normal but weak-willed people who are codependent to the abusive leader and become the leader’s enablers and cheerleaders.  Sometimes they are not aware they are being used as flying monkeys, especially if the leader has convinced them that the targeted person or group is the real enemy and they are the ones being victimized (see DARVO, below).

Trump uses his cabinet members, his family members, and his supporters, including the people who attend his rallies, as flying monkeys to normalize and defend his hateful rhetoric and policies that will hurt the rest of us, including the flying monkeys themselves, who seem like they’re brainwashed.   This was already discussed in the second paragraph of this post, so I won’t go into more detail here.

DARVO

DARVO is an acronym that stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.    It’s common for narcissists to deny saying or doing something, but then attack YOU for accusing them, thus making themselves out to be the victim, and YOU as the one who is doing the abusing.  It’s a form of both gaslighting and projection, with the added technique of feigning victimization to garner pity and support.

Trump is always playing the victim, complaining about how it’s always others who are obstructing him or lying about him, or who want to take him down.   One of the most infamous examples to date is when he addressed a graduating class of the Coast Guard and proceeded to whine about how he was the most persecuted politician in the history of our nation.   By making himself out to be the ultimate victim (and of course making everything about him and ruining these graduates’ special day), he also diminished the experiences of other politicians, war heroes, and former presidents who had suffered far worse.

Scapegoating.

This term is self-explanatory.  It comes from the field of family dynamics.  Malignant narcissists (and sometimes substance abusers such as alcoholics, who tend to have Cluster B disorders) almost always select a scapegoat to project the lion’s share of blame onto and thus the scapegoat becomes the designated carrier of toxic shame that the narcissist refuses to own.  In a family headed by one or more narcissistic parents, one child may be selected to be the family scapegoat.  That child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family, and is told repeatedly they are stupid, worthless, evil, ugly, crazy, or bad.  They are punished more than the other children, even when they did nothing wrong.  Their achievements are dismissed or even treated as something bad that must be punished. The scapegoat may also be bullied and abused by siblings, who act as the parent’s flying monkey(s).   A scapegoated child tends to enter adulthood with depression, low self esteem, a pervading sense of danger, and other psychological problems that tend to reinforce their role as scapegoats even as they move beyond the family.   Because scapegoats aren’t quick to defend themselves, are fearful and lack self esteem,  predatory personalities seem to be able to smell them out and proceed to dish further abuse and rejection on them.

Scapegoats are usually the most physically or emotionally vulnerable, the most sensitive, or most thoughtful individuals in a toxic family or other group, and/or they are the whistle-blowers or the truth-tellers who refuse to become flying monkeys or enablers of the narcissist.   Ironically, in a toxic family, they may be the most emotionally healthy individuals.   Malignant narcissist parents or other leaders wish to silence anyone who tells the truth or blows the whistle — or who is a constant reminder to them of how dangerous and toxic they really are.    Narcissists hate the “weak” and vulnerable, and they also hate those who tell the truth and expose them for what they are.     They may also scapegoat those who disagree with them or criticize them.

Every week, it seems that Trump has a new scapegoat.   While mainstream or liberal reporters and journalists (the truth tellers and whistle blowers) and groups of people who are not white, male and Christian seem to receive the lion’s share of his abuse and vilification, from week to week, Trump also targets a new individual — almost always someone who he perceives as being critical of him or obstructing his harebrained and wrongheaded policies.   Obama is a constant target, since his very existence threatens his fragile ego  (it’s obvious to me Trump hates Obama for having the temerity to be both more popular than he is and black), but he has also targeted Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and John McCain, as well as former and current insiders like Sean Spicer, Mitch McConnell, James Comey, and Jeff Sessions for abuse, which he usually metes out on Twitter.

Blame-Shifting.

Similar to projection and DARVO, blame-shifting is when a narcissist or sociopathic person refuses to accept or own blame and instead shifts responsibility onto someone else.    Malignant narcissists will never ever admit wrongdoing or say they’re sorry, because to do so is admission that they are less than perfect and that is intolerable to them.    The abusive husband who makes excuses for beating his wife (“she asked for it because of her nonstop nagging”) is shifting blame onto his wife instead of owning the fact that beating her was wrong.

Trump is constantly shifting blame to others.   Not once during his entire 8 months in office has he ever apologized or said he’s sorry for anything.   He’s made a lot of mistakes, some pretty terrible — but it’s always someone else’s fault.     When his unpopular and unconstitutional policies fail to pass, it’s never his fault — it’s always the “Obstructionist Dems,” Mitch McConnell, the “FAKE NEWS” lying to the people, or whoever the villain of the day happens to be.   He even makes excuses for the deplorable behavior of some of his white supremacist supporters, as he did when he said there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville — which there wasn’t.   In so doing, he also sent a clear signal to his white supremacist and neo-Nazi supporters that Trump was okay with their particular form of terrorism (running a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman).

Splitting.

People with Cluster B disorders tend to think in terms of black-and-white, us-versus-them. There are NO shades of grey, NO mitigating circumstances, NO ambiguities.  If a malignant narcissist has decided you are “bad,” there is NOTHING good about you.  You might as well be Satan himself.   If you have been labeled crazy, you are a word salad blabbering lunatic fit to be put in a straitjacket and locked up in the loony bin until the day you die.    If you have been deemed an enemy, you can NEVER become a friend, nor do you have ANY redeeming qualities.   Since you will inevitably disappoint the malignant narcissist, eventually he will turn harshly against you.

This is called splitting, and Trump does it all the time.   Trump is incapable of seeing how complex people are, because he has zero insight into himself or any curiosity about human nature.   If someone insults him, they couldn’t just be having a bad day, because Trump lacks the empathy to be able to put himself in someone else’s shoes.   He would never consider that they might be right, either, because doing so would be intolerable to him.    Insult Trump and you become the Enemy — fair game for dehumanization, vilification, and retaliatory abuse.   There is no in between.  If you are not loyal to him, you are Other — and Other is always very bad.

Devalue and Discard (D&D)

After a period of love-bombing (see below), in which you are the most perfect, wonderful, loyal friend or ally ever (because to the narcissist, you are either ALL good or ALL bad),   you will inevitably (because you aren’t perfect) do or say something that hurts the narcissist’s feelings or causes him narcissistic injury.  Once that has happened, they will turn on you like a pit viper and will proceed to make your life hell.   In relationships, this may be the point at which the person who yesterday showered you with roses, candlelit dinners, and love letters now refuses to take your calls and blocks you on Facebook.

Trump has done this with many of his staff members, who were once confidantes and allies, and who he now attacks and vilifies because they failed to be “loyal” to him or were critical of him in some way. To Trump, other people are objects to be used or to provide narcissistic supply (worship and adulation), not imperfect human beings with both good and bad points.

Love-Bombing.

This is the initial phase of a relationship with a narcissist, in which you are the most perfect person in the world, but really you are just a mirror reflecting back to them what they want to see in themselves.  Once that image is tarnished (because you found fault with the narcissist), the abuse and/or devaluation begins.

Trump employed love-bombing during his campaign, when he made all kinds of promises that “only he” could fix.  He promised “healthcare for everybody” when his real agenda was to give a huge tax break to the wealthy while taking healthcare away from the most vulnerable, which included many of his own supporters.   He promised lots of new manufacturing jobs, a border wall that “the Mexicans would pay for,” and all sorts of other things that he had no intention — or capability — of turning into reality.  The only thing he’s kept his promise on is his neverending war on political correctness, but that’s turned into a war on anyone who dares criticize or question him.

Narcissistic Injury/Narcissistic Rage.

When you point out a narcissist’s faults or failures, he will enter a state of narcissistic injury — which means he is suffering a massive blow to his ego.  Most people, when hurt, have a healthy enough sense of self that they will deal with the emotional blow honestly — by talking about it, admitting their feelings were hurt, making a joke about it, or just telling themselves it really doesn’t matter and trying to move on from it.   But a malignant narcissist is incapable of making a joke or moving on or God forbid, admitting their own vulnerability.  Because their sense of self is so fragile (and is really just an overlay for the emptiness within), the only way they can feel good about themselves again is to attack you and deflect blame.   This is called narcissistic rage.   Narcissistic rage can take many forms:  gaslighting, outright verbal or physical abuse, threats, triangulation (secretly ganging up with others against the perpetrator), splitting, bullying, blame-shifting, deflecting, denial, the “silent treatment,” and D&D.

Trump displays many or even most of these behaviors whenever he perceives someone or some group has insulted him.   You can see it in his face and body language when he’s enraged.  His lips purse, his whole body goes stiff, and his eyes narrow and turn almost black with hatred and spite.   He’s frightening to look at when he’s in the midst of narcissistic rage, which is often.  I won’t list examples here because there are simply too many.   Trump is paranoid and constantly battling real or imagined enemies.   Eventually, everyone becomes an enemy to Trump.

False Self.

Narcissists have  a very fragile sense of self and feel empty inside.   To compensate, at an early age, they develop a “false self” — a kind of mask that shows others what they want you to believe they are.   If this mask is threatened or attacked in any way, they risk their “real self”  (the vulnerable and insecure child the mask hides) being exposed.   This is why you cannot criticize a narcissist. Rather than listen to you and agree you may have a point, they will  fight you to the death to maintain their image of perfection.    Being seen as vulnerable or defenseless is simply too frightening to them.   That’s one of the reasons they hate the vulnerable so much — people they perceive as “weak” fill them with shame of that which they need to hide.

A false self can take many forms, but for a classic or overt narcissist like Trump, it’s usually invulnerable and appears tough and self assured.   If the mask isn’t challenged, this type of narcissist can appear to be very competent and confident.   Some male narcissists, especially if they’re highly malignant like Trump, maintain a mask of toxic masculinity.   Trump admires dictators and “strongmen” types like Vladimir Putin.  He admires authoritarianism and political tactics that intimidate, terrorize, and oppress vulnerable populations.   I don’t know the details of Trump’s early childhood, but I’ve heard his father was emotionally abusive and empathy and kindness were not qualities he valued in a male child.  Only financial and material success were valued and rewarded.    I wouldn’t doubt it if Trump’s desire to please such a difficult and unloving father is at the root of his narcissism and the “strongman” style of his false self.

Fear-Mongering.

Narcissists and sociopaths, in order to gain control over others, often resort to instilling fear and even terror in their subjects.   Cult leaders, some religious leaders (especially fundamentalist leaders, whether Christian or Muslim), and dictators (as well as abusive husbands and mean bosses) are all known for this.   They threaten and bully.   They demand obedience and “loyalty” — or else.   They believe their bullying behavior makes them seem strong and invincible, but anyone who needs to resort to threats and schoolyard bully tactics to get cooperation and support is pathetically weak in character and devoid of any real strength.

Trump bullies others and makes veiled threats against his opponents all the time on Twitter.   He demands loyalty and calls people names.   Many of his staff members seem intimidated by him and almost afraid to be honest or do the right thing.    I sometimes wonder what he has threatened them with if they fail to cooperate.

Worst of all, Trump also tacitly encourages bullying behavior by his supporters against his opponents by failing to criticize their violent actions adequately or at all (Charlottesville), and by “jokingly” encouraging terrorist-type behavior and violence against his detractors at his rallies.   But Trump is not joking.  He is quite serious.  Malignant narcissists are incapable of any real humor.

Obfuscation/deflection.

Another tactic malignant narcissists use to deflect blame or avoid responsibility is obfuscating — confusing the issue or creating chaos.   Trump does this in a variety of ways, but all are intended to instigate chaos or create a new crisis that serves to obfuscate (hide) something he wants to deflect attention away from (such as the Russia investigation).   Every day, some new drama comes out of this White House.   Every day, he’s fighting with someone else, threatening someone, or someone else has quit or been fired.  It’s like a reality show from hell.

All the constant drama is intended to create chaos and confusion, and keep both his opponents and supporters off balance.   Leaders like this can be extremely dangerous because they are likely to incite something serious (like nuclear war with North Korea) in order to deflect negative attention away from themselves and their dishonest, unethical, or illegal activities. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for the idea of being nuked because a petty and childish old man’s ego was wounded.

Another way narcissists obfuscate is through a special kind of “word salad” in which nothing they say makes any sense, although on the surface it may seem to.   They leave you feeling confused and scratching your head, wondering what the hell they really meant by what they just said.   Of course, if you question them or force them to make their message more clear, they will blame YOU — for being stupid or not understanding.

Truth or Dare?

Elizabeth Mika writes probing, fascinating, and, well, creepy posts about Trump’s malignant narcissism and the ways our narcissism as a nation inevitably led to an election of someone like him.   She also writes about the psychology of his most ardent followers, who seem eerily reminiscent of cult members.   This is a phenomenon she accurately dubs “Trumpism.”    When under the thrall of a cult leader, many people seem to forget their own morals and not have minds of their own.   They will continue to deny truth and support their leader even when there is irrefutable proof of the leader’s immorality and even criminality held up to their noses.

In fact, I believe Trumpism is a cult, and Trump qualifies as a cult leader.

cult_definition In Ms. Mika’s most recent post, she writes about this disturbing trend and the true intentions of the criminal mob who hijacked the White House in November.

Truth or Dare?

Would you want to know ahead of time if your future president suffered from a dangerous, incurable character defect — not mental illness — that was typical for all tyrants in the history of human race?

What if that defect, with its predictable manifestations and consequences, was described to you early on, so you could perhaps help prevent the tyrant’s rise to power? Or, if too late for that, at least understood what to expect and pursue appropriate action as his reign took hold?

Would you want to know?

This knowledge is easily available, though for some reason we prefer not to find it, and that’s as our government, country, and the entire world come under threat from just such a characterologically defective leader and his circle of similarly impaired enablers.

Yet we don’t want to see it, and we loathe talking about it, even though, as Lee Siegal reminds us, avoiding questions about Trump’s mental unhealth is “a betrayal of the public trust, a denial of human nature, and an insult to posterity.”*

In a September 2016 post, The Red Herring of the Candidates’ (Physical) Health, I wrote:

If / when Trump is elected and proceeds to dismantle our democracy (yes, we know this is a very real possibility, thanks to correct diagnosis, as chaos and destruction are assured by his character defect; but he also said so, should there be any doubts), will we perhaps revisit and rethink the Goldwater Rule? If we have that chance, of course, and courage and a desire to do so.

The dismantling of our democracy is in full swing now and proceeds according to schedule.

Make no mistake: What we are witnessing is not some incompetent bumbling of political novices, but purposeful and vengeful destruction of our government, country, and possibly — if the pathocratic Trump/Bannon cabal is allowed to remain in power unopposed— the world.

*****

Read the rest of this post here

I highly recommend Ms. Mika’s blog on Medium.  This is where hers and other’s articles on Trump, Trumpism, and the normalization of sociopathy/narcissism in general can be found.