Is Donald Trump a Narcissist?

A narcissist is someone who wants to have a self, i.e., to pursue self-interest, but not respecting the need and right of others to do the same. The narcissist rarely admits this, but from regular dealings with such a person, you can easily infer that it’s true.

By definition, nearly all politicians in today’s world are narcissists. Unlike the men who founded the United States, the vast majority of today’s politicians want to impose their will on others for their own sake; in the pursuit of power, fame and other perks that naturally come from sacrificing the rights of some for the sake of others (who will vote for you).

Hillary Clinton is a blatant and self-evident narcissist. And many who vote for her will agree with that. Barack Obama is just as much a narcissist. He wants to usurp the rights of some – e.g., anyone who wants to be left alone, and anyone who does not agree with his policies on health care, free speech, gun rights, Internet connectivity, private property, literally anything – for the sake of others.

One might infer from this that Donald Trump, who wants to become president, is just as much a narcissist as anyone else. But compared to the career politicians who dominate today’s government (and act based on who gives them the most money), Trump deserves some benefit of the doubt. Unlike so many of our lifelong politicians, he did have to persuade customers to buy his properties and products voluntarily. Politicians, on the other hand, have force and “pull” on their side so they can get what they want. For example, Obama’s pouty and petulant use of “executive orders” when he must circumvent the desires of Congress or of the voters. While proponents of unhampered free-market capitalism criticize Trump for his use of “pull” in the art of his legendary dealmaking, he still had to keep businesses profitable and react to his customers’ opinions. Hillary Clinton, like any career politician, never worked an honest day in her life. So others’ opinions simply don’t matter to her.

So, why do so many find Donald Trump appealing? Win or lose in November, this man’s political achievements are unprecedented. He singlehandedly defeated, and probably wiped out for all time, the Republican Party — including the seemingly endless circus parade of Bushes. History may record that the Republican Party began with Lincoln and ended, at least technically, with George W. Bush. But once Trump came along, it was all over. Even if he loses to Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party as we knew it will never be the same. Whatever might rise up from the ashes will be something that Donald Trump helped to create. And it will be something quite different.

What makes Trump’s supporters tick? To better understand this, we have to do a bit of analysis. Dan P. McAdams is a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University. In the June 2016 issue of The Atlantic magazine, McAdams wrote a commentary on Donald Trump’s personality, along with the thoughts of some mental health professionals that Trump is a textbook narcissist. McAdams writes, “Narcissus wanted, more than anything else, to love himself. People with strong narcissistic needs want to love themselves, and they desperately want others to love them too — or at least admire them, see them as brilliant and powerful and beautiful, even just see them, period. It’s healthy and rational to admire confidence. Whether Trump’s overt, self-congratulatory style is an example of real confidence or a grandiose sense of hyperbole and humor is a matter of debate.”

In spite of the shrill keening of the Marxists and leftists, Trump’s brash, confident approach is alluring to many, many voters. Remember that though it’s the Republican voters to whom Trump has most appealed, the established, career  so-called “Republicans” such as the Bushes, the Romneys, the Bob Doles and the John McCains (who survive on the good-ol’-boy network of handouts and favors), see him as a far worse creature than Hillary Clinton. Of course they do, and this tells you something about these poseurs’ true loyalty to massive Big Government and all its pocket-lining perks. But Republican voters are the ones who chose Trump over all these career politicians. Interestingly, only Ted Cruz had a chance of beating Trump for the nomination, and Cruz is just as anti-establishment as Trump.

To put it bluntly, Republican voters are sick of weenies. They’re sick of Mitt Romney, who ran on a highly conservative platform, but after his defeat admitted to believing in global warming, and conceding that Obamacare did a lot of good. The voters are just as sick of George W. Bush, who, by contributing to the real estate bubble, helped to enable the welfare-regulatory state he claimed to dislike. He massively expanded Medicare and squandered unprecedented amounts (for a Republican, at least) on domestic spending. Amusingly, when his policies blew up, he morphed into FDR — the Democratic icon — rather than Ronald Reagan, whom he claimed was his hero. He bailed out failing companies rather than working to get government out of the economy, spending and doing less before the 2007-08 debacle and after. And then, in the elections of 2010 and 2014, Republicans defeated Democrats in landslides by running on unequivocal opposition to Obamacare, big government, and everything Obama stands for. But, surprise, surprise: Once these uber-weenies were in office, Obama got everything he wanted, and more – so much so that at times even Obama himself seemed stunned.

When you consider the magnitude of evasion, cowardice and the Republican politicians’ betrayal of their conservative and libertarian-leaning voters, it’s no wonder that someone like Donald Trump came along to steal the voters’ hearts. I’m surprised it took so long.

Trump’s at-times caricature-like portrayal of brash self-confidence represents a reaction, particularly among Republicans and many Independents, against the loathsome, mewling spinelessness of Republican politicians and so-called “leaders.” Donald Trump’s actual or alleged narcissism is not news. American politics is littered with narcissists, of whom Obama and Hillary are two of the greatest examples. Trump’s possible narcissism is nothing new. What IS new is that true Republicans want someone whom they perceive as strong. Say what you will, but he certainly comes across as someone who doesn’t represent the hapless spinelessness of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, the tearful John Boehner and all the other losers who are the most responsible for the demise of the Republican Party.

Dan McAdams continues, “The renowned psychoanalytic theorist Heinz Kohut argued that narcissism stems from a deficiency in early-life mirroring: i.e., the parents fail to lovingly reflect back the young boy’s (or girl’s) budding grandiosity, leaving the child in desperate need of affirmation from others. But others argue that there is nothing necessarily compensatory, or even immature, about certain forms of narcissism. Consistent with this view, I can find no evidence in the biographical record to suggest that Donald Trump experienced anything but a loving relationship with his mother and father. Narcissistic people may seek glorification over and over, but not necessarily because they suffered from negative family dynamics as children. Rather, they simply cannot get enough. The parental praise and strong encouragement that might reinforce a sense of security for most boys and young men may instead have added fuel to Donald Trump’s hot ambitions.”

The essence of narcissism, i.e., a false sense of entitlement,  is the underlying theme of many psychological disorders. But Donald Trump achieved his business success in the context of a waning free market system. He defends his use of political pull as a requirement for achievement in today’s economy. And he’s arguably right. But when all was said and done, he still suffered losses when he failed to deliver the desired product to customers or investors. He gained profits only when he built or delivered a product (e.g., his hit television show) to satisfied viewers and advertisers. This is not something that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama could have ever done. Everything these two second handers “achieved,” they achieved through coercion.

Donald Trump’s popularity, at least among Republicans, appears to be less for what he is than for what he is NOT. In addition to NOT being a career politician, he’s also NOT politically correct. One of the most nauseating examples of political correctness came not from Barack Obama, but actually George W. Bush. Just days after 9/11 – of all days! – Bush rushed into public to declare that “Islam is peace.” Neither the liberal nor the conservative media ever gave Bush the full treatment he deserved for this appalling proclamation. Liberals are correct in their assertion that Bush was largely a hypocrite, for no other reason that anyone who truly believed that would not have initiated war in the Islamic-dominated Middle East. When future historians look back on the West and America’s war against Islam — an ideology which America must either defeat or be destroyed by — they will have to mark the insipid and self-congratulatory ignorance of George W. Bush as a low point. Just as Neville Chamberlin, British prime minister who called for “peace in our time” as Hitler proceeded to invade country after country, George W. Bush deserves a similarly enduring infamy by referring to Islam as “peaceful” mere days after that very ideology launched the worst attack ever on American civilization and values.

McAdams says, “Ever since grade school, Trump has wanted to be No. 1. Attending New York Military Academy for high school, he was relatively popular among his peers and with the faculty, but he did not have any close confidants. As both a coach and an admiring classmate recall in ‘The Trumps’, Donald stood out for being the most competitive young man in a very competitive environment. His need to excel — to be the best athlete in school, for example, and to chart out the most ambitious future career — may have crowded out intense friendships by making it impossible for him to show the kind of weakness and vulnerability that true intimacy typically requires.”

Trump’s career reminds true Americans that the business of America is not pocket-lining politics and government, but business and achievement. Republicans and Democrats have alienated many of those Americans because both parties represent careerism only in government. Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Hillary Clinton and most of the Congress represent government and power for its own sake and nothing more. Inexplicably, millions of Americans still admire this idea, but there are increasing numbers of people who do not. This is the divide within the Republican Party: Those who clamor for a Republican “establishment” candidate with his (or her) hands outstretched for donations are not so concerned with Trump’s character or proposed policies as they are with the idea that someone who has never held a career in politics could rise to become the most powerful person in the world. This goes against their treasured admiration of government power for its own sake.

“When individuals with authoritarian proclivities fear that their way of life is being threatened,” says McAdams, “they may turn to strong leaders who promise to keep them safe — leaders like Donald Trump. In a national poll conducted recently by the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams, high levels of authoritarianism emerged as the single strongest predictor of expressing political support for Donald Trump. Trump’s promise to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out, and his railing against Muslims and other outsiders have presumably fed that dynamic.

“As president, Donald Trump promises he would make America great again. In [his book] Crippled America, he says that a first step toward victory is building up the Armed Forces: ‘Everything begins with a strong military. Everything.’ The enemies facing the United States are more terrifying than those the hero has confronted in Queens and Manhattan. ‘There has never been a more dangerous time,’ Trump says. Members of ISIS ‘are medieval barbarians’ who must be pursued ‘relentlessly wherever they are, without stopping, until every one of them is dead.’ Less frightening but no less belligerent are our economic competitors, like the Chinese. They keep beating us. We have to beat them.”

America has lost its spine and is spectacularly vulnerable to those medieval barbarians. Part of the reason America lost its spine was the economic stagnation spawned by decades of government meddling, over-involvement in and subsequent mismanagement of, the economy. Not to mention the false sense of security and lack of vision generated by dangerous political correctness.

One thing is for sure: Trump stands for decisiveness and a love of American values as nobody has since Ronald Reagan. His brash and sometimes offensive style will always turn some people off. But that is certainly not the same as the soft dictatorship we now endure. Confidence is not, in and of itself, narcissism.

America can only rise again if economic prosperity and free markets return, and when the military is rebuilt with the strongest weaponry ever known. That’s how America experienced a (sadly temporary) resurgence in the 1980s, and that’s the only answer today. If Trump’s classically narcissistic, dishonest and power-hungry opponent wins, we can be absolutely sure that America’s spiral into decline and eventual ruin will continue. The crossroads at which we now stand, and the dangers perpetrated by our current politicians, will touch everyone’s future. And they run deeper than any psychiatric pathology.


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