Is Trump a Narcissist? What About Obama?

Here’s what some in the psychiatric professions have to say about Donald Trump:

“Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist and Harvard Graduate School professor Howard Gardner.

Clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis echoed the sentiment, referring to Trump’s diagnosis as “Textbook [narcissistic] personality disorder.” In fact, Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder is so textbook that another clinical psychologist, George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior, is saving clips of Trump.

“In the field we use clusters of personality disorders. Narcissism is in cluster B, which means it has similarities with histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. There are similarities between them. Regardless of how you feel about John McCain, the man served — and suffered. Narcissism is an extreme defense against one’s own feelings of worthlessness. To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it’s antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That’s what he’s doing.”

[Note: Donald Trump did not necessarily degrade U.S. Senator John McCain. Trump did criticize the idea of excusing or ignoring McCain’s political and ideological mistakes solely because of his past military service.]

Narcissists, he goes [on], often denigrate other people as comparative “losers.” “If you examine Trump’s language in his public statements as well as in the debates, you will hear him proclaim his winner status again and again while sneering at his detractors as losers.”

The fact that respected psychologists are willing to speak out and diagnose Trump at all is an indicator of their concern over a potential Trump presidency, according to this story.

The American Psychiatric Association has declared it unethical for psychiatrists and psychologists to “comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments.” This is referred to as the Goldwater rule, which was established after a magazine published an article in which it polled psychiatrists about Senator Barry Goldwater’s “fitness” to be president in 1964. Goldwater sued the magazine and the publisher and was awarded punitive damages. The willingness of many mental health professionals to break that rule indicates the level of their concern.

As Michaelis explained, there should be concern.

“He’s applying for the greatest job in the land, the greatest task of which is to serve, but there’s nothing about the man that is service-oriented. He’s only serving himself.”

Is Donald Trump a narcissist?

Perhaps, but that’s not the interesting question.

The real question is why psychiatrists and psychologists are conclusively and decisively claiming Donald Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, while ignoring all of the evidence in support of Barack Obama’s narcissism. The inconsistency and naked intellectual/professional dishonesty involved here should make you skeptical of their claims.

Let’s start with degrading people. Throughout his presidency, Obama has degraded people who disagree with him on matters of policy and principle.

Obama’s own vice president, Joe Biden, has referred to opponents of Obamacare as economic “terrorists.” No apology ever emerged, neither from Biden nor from his boss, Obama. Nor would it occur to them to apologize. In their minds, they are right, and those who disagree with them are evil-intentioned. What else but evil could explain disagreement? End of story.

What about the facts, logic and history standing in the way of Obama’s socialism? What about the self-evident failures of Obamacare to deliver even on its own promises – “You can keep your doctor, keep your insurance,” for example? No defense was ever provided; nor will it be. Narcissists (and the people who love them) do not worry about conflicts between objective reality and fantasy. It’s as if they’re above reality. Obama is a picture-perfect example of narcissism in practice. He’s a better example than Donald Trump, who at least has been able to survive in the real profit-and-loss world of business. Obama never has, and never will.

Obama has labeled people who oppose socialism and support capitalism in a principled way [e.g. Ayn Rand supporters] as “cold-hearted.” Is this any different from Trump’s belittling of those he dislikes? Obama routinely mocks and disparages people who disagree with him on gun control, immigration, defense cuts and the supposed pacifism of Islam. Obama’s style is not brash and blunt like Trump’s, but the contempt Obama holds for those who disagree with him is evident the moment he opens his mouth.

And then there’s the claim that Trump serves himself, rather than serving others. Does this mean that Obama serves others? Obama does not create or produce a thing for anyone. He uses a combination of unearned guilt and raw, coercive power to transfer huge amounts of wealth and resources from people who earned it to those who did not earn it. He’s not even a competent or astute career politician, such as the Bushes and Clintons who preceded him, and who seek to follow him.

Obama depends 100 percent on the efforts of others to accomplish the things he claims to accomplish. How is this not narcissism – or worse?

My question: Why are psychiatrists and psychologists rushing to warn the country not to support Donald Trump—while silent about, or even supportive of, someone like Barack Obama holding the reins of presidential power?

Why is narcissism unacceptable when it’s “right wing” or anything other than standard fare of progressive socialism; and perfectly reasonable, healthy and normal when displayed by someone like Obama?

A lot of people do not understand what a narcissist really is. The American Psychiatric Association’s definition does not fully satisfy me, either.

Let’s be clear. We all have a self – and we all should have one. We are all self-interested, rationally speaking – or at least, we should be. We (and our loved ones/associates) suffer the degree to which we do not possess a consistent sense of rational self-interest and rational self-preservation.

What makes someone a narcissist, as opposed to someone who’s rationally and objectively self-interested, is someone who does not respect the equal right and need of others around him to be self-interested.

A reasonable person has a self, and will not let you tread on that self. However, this reasonable person respects that you are entitled to have a self, as well. That’s the key distinction.

A narcissist can dish it out, but cannot take it.

A narcissist expects you to make sacrifices on his behalf, but will never make sacrifices for you.

Yes, narcissists are notoriously thin-skinned and obnoxious. But it’s not self-interest, or authentic self-esteem, that makes them this way. It’s a profound, inner insecurity. Narcissists need to put others down rather than build themselves up. They’re preoccupied with what others think because they lack the confidence to know and be sure of what they think (or know).

Narcissists are “other-sacrificers.” They surround themselves with “yes men” or self-sacrificers, and often require the presence of self-sacrificers who will tolerate their behavior.

From a rational point-of-view, nobody should be making sacrifices. Other than leaving people alone and keeping your voluntary commitments and promises, neither you nor I owe anybody anything. But – unless you’re a narcissist – nobody owes you anything, either. This is what the narcissist refuses to understand.

Why is an outspoken and Republican-leaning candidate given the third degree about narcissism, while a sitting president who displays all the same traits is coddled, encouraged and ignored?

That’s the unanswered question.

Yes, by this definition, the political world is full of narcissists. Donald Trump, if he wins the presidency, might or might not end up fitting right in. Washington DC is now all about coercion, redistribution of wealth, and a sacrificial war of all against all. What about preserving and protecting the rights of people to be left alone by criminals, terrorists and even by the government itself? That’s no longer our government.

And that’s why it’s falling apart.

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