Posts Tagged ‘narcissism’

Donald Trump and The Politics of Narcissism: Mental Illness as Statecraft

January 24, 2017

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For anyone who was holding out hope, however faint and desperate, that the gravity of assuming the presidency of the United States would somehow miraculously compel Donald Trump to be someone other than Donald Trump, less than 24 hours on the job was more than enough time to not merely shatter completely all such illusions but confirm one’s worst nightmares.

It took Trump less than one day to show the nation and the world just how deeply, dangerously, eerily and spectacularly unfit he is for the position he now holds. In the process, Trump displayed to all and sundry the horrific and inevitable results of that which compels and controls him: a rampaging, gargantuan, chilling narcissism.

Consider Trump’s behavior during his tour of CIA Headquarters, which was promoted as a major step in reconciling the feud between the intellence agency and their new boss, the head of state.

Standing before the CIA Memorial Wall, commemorating CIA agents who died undercover, addressing some 400 agents who were gathered to hear the new president’s words, Trump sounded for all the world like a pathetic drunk babbling to himself at the end of a dive bar on an early Saturday afternoon after a three day binge.

Except it wasn’t alcohol Trump was drunk on: it was something infinitely more powerful. It was narcissism.

While it is true Trump made a casual reference to the “special wall “ behind him and added a few choice words about destroying “radical Islamic extremism,”
as is his wont (and I would argue, his need) Trump spoke mostly about Trump.
To wit: the president of the United States spent his first visit to a national institution (however dubious an institution it is) babbling about his relationship with media (“They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”), his inaugural speech (“I’ve been given good reviews “) the media lying about the crowd size at the event (“And I think they are going to pay a big price”) ; an uncle “ who was at MIT, (“I know a lot about West Point. I’m a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for thirty-five years, who did a fantastic job in so many different ways, academically—was an academic genius—and then they say, Is Donald Trump an intellectual? Trust me, I’m like a smart person.”) and the number of times he has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine ( “I’ve been on it fifteen times this year. I don’t think that’s a record that can ever be broken.” ).

Let us be blunt: It is not simply wrong for the president of the United States to stand before a memorial wall of people who died in service to the nation he is now leading and babble on incoherently about his speech, his uncle at MIT, how smart he is, and the number of times he was on the cover of Time Magazine and so on. Nor is it simply appalling, though it surely is that. Nor is it a matter of personal style, quirkiness or somehow evidence of some kind of “authenticity.”
It is deranged and need be called deranged. And it must not be allowed , through sheer repetition or a perverse respect for the office of the presidency or outright cowardice on the part on the corporate media, to be made normative and acceptable.
More: It has since been confirmed that Trump brought with him to the CIA a team of shills to cheer on his every syllable.

A few hours later, Trump ordered Sean Spicer, his poor fool of press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing to scold reporters, lie about the size of the crowd at
Trump’s inauguration and warn the media that the Trump administration would hold them to account.

It was an astonishing performance and one that, quite naturally, caused an immediate media firestorm. After all, this was blatant bullshit — on a subject of complete irrelevance.
The next day, in a clip that is now infamous for giving the world the unlovely locution “alternative facts,” CNN’s Chuck Todd attempted in vain to fox out of Kelly Anne Conway, counselor to the president, some rationale for Trump’s insane demand on his press secretary to self righteously and angrily utter an absolute lie about something of zero importance.

Predictably, Conway dissembled, changed the subject, and than uttered the line that will live in infamy.

But what interests me is not Conway’s answer but Todd’s question, or rather the presumption behind Todd’s question. Todd assumes that Trump is in control of Trump. Todd appears honestly baffled by Trump’s concerns and actions, asking Conway why the man would risk credulity over the size of a crowd, which Todd characterizes as “the smallest, pettiest thing.”

From the perspective of a relatively healthy psyche, Todd’s question is completely reasonable. From the perspective of a narcissist as completely diseased as Trump, the very idea that his inauguration was not the biggest crowd ever might as well be the size and depth of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a direct threat to his identity. As such it is unbearable.

Todd appears to believe that Trump made a choice to send his press secretary out to lie. Narcissism allows no choices. Whatever threatens must be attacked and, if possible, eradicated from the face of the earth. A full-blown narcissist like Trump is compelled to remove, destroy or defame anyone or anything that threatens to expose the falsity of his identity. The narcissist is incapable of allowing any person, place or thing to outshine his fractured, agonized ego for even a moment.

In other words, seen through the lens of traditional politics, Trump’s behavior is simply appalling and seems inexplicable. Yet seen through the prism of narcissism it makes complete and horrific sense. Indeed, it is inevitable.

That Donald Trump is a hopeless narcissist has been known for decades. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of visiting Trump Tower could feel the palpable power of this affliction like a malevolent force field. But there is all the difference in the world between a nasty narcissist in his garish tower and a nasty narcissist in the Executive Office, who, thanks to the machinations of President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and the cowardice of the congress, enjoys vastly greater executive powers than did any of their predecessors. The horrible hold that affliction has on it’s victims is something we are witnessing in real time and with the highest conceivable stakes, as one of those victims is now the president of the United States, and one whose actions, statements and decisions are compelled by something completely beyond his control.
And the whole world is watching how this is unfolding.

Needless to say, the size of an inauguration crowd is not a real problem, but nonetheless Trump responded with lies and threats bolstered by the power of the state. Inevitably, real problems will arise and I shudder to think how this wounded and wounding man, invested now with such enormous power, will respond.

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Addendum: Here’s a video with more of the same. This time Trump’s “belief” in massive voter fraud for which there is zero evidence.

It is interesting and revealing that the number of Trumps’ ficticious fraudulent voters coincides, more or less, with the number of voters by which Trump lost the popular vote. It is as if, in Trump’s diseased mind, he cannot accept the fact that Hillary Clinton received more votes. Therefore, reality must be altered to fit Trump’s “beliefs.”

Even in the midst of his public downfall and humiliation, with the furies of Watergate hounding him around the clock and from every corner, Richard Nixon did not exhibit this level of public craziness. Indeed, in comparison, Trump makes the paranoid and hounded Nixon look healthy.

I am no fan of Jake Tapper but this video is unlike any I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/news/trump-has-meltdown-over-cnn-after-jake-tapper-scorches-him-on-voter-fraud-lies-video/

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Notes On NYC Labor Day Parade and the Horror of Trump Tower

September 14, 2015

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So New York City’s Labor Day Parade was held on Saturday and, as a dutiful union man, I made my way up to 45th St in the morning and met up with the UFT contingent massed together awaiting our turn to march among the thousands of ironworkers, plumbers, postal workers, carpenters, laborers, nurses, and all the rest of the noble souls who collectively form the central nervous system of the city and keep the city running. The turnout among teachers was disappointing but I was grateful, as ever, to meet up with my friend and union brother, the prize winning blogger nyceducator and his delightful protégé. Together we managed to squeeze out some laughs and skillfully avoid the oily hands of various politicians – most notably the cadaverous looking Sen. Chuck Schumer, his arms seeming to multiply like the Hindu goddess Durga, desperately seeking something to shake — and walk the 5th Ave route from start to finish on 64th St.

At parade’s end we parted, the nyceducator and protégé heading east to lunch, and
I back tracking south along 5th Ave passing the parade that went on and on and on. Somewhere around 62nd St I came to a realization that New Yorkers dread: my bladder was sending me the unmistakable message that I needed a bath room, a need ridiculously difficult to fulfill anywhere in NYC, that much the more in that neighborhood of Tiffany’s and the Plaza Hotel.

I understood I had no choice but to soldier down 19 or so blocks to a branch of the New York Public Library and so, with ever increasing urgency, did I begin.

Lo and behold, not far into my increasingly miserable journey I looked right to find none other than the garish Trump Tower, with the words “open to the public” above the glass doors calling me to follow like the star of Bethlehem.
Besides, I reasoned, what better person to leave such a gift with after a Labor Day Parade than Donald Trump, no longer merely an obnoxious media whore billionaire but, crazily, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States! So, for the first time in my life, albeit with an extremely limited mission in mind, I entered a building owned by Donald Trump; which is to say I entered into a physical space mirroring the horrifying sensibility of Donald Trump.

Before I go any further let me say that, like any more or less sensate New Yorker, even before his insane entry into presidential politics and elevation into the same, I have been forced into an awareness of the vulgar and supreme narcissist who is Donald Trump. Moreover, cycling to work from the Lower East Side to Harlem, as I do, I am reminded of his existence via his brutal phallic buildings just about any route I take. There’s a Trump monstrosity on 1st Ave near the United Nations. Another when you leave the bike path at Central Park and 59th St.. There are still others along the Hudson Bikeway on the Westside. I was also unwittingly aware, seemingly through a process akin to osmosis, of Trump’s idiot TV show, his get rich seminars, his wives and other aspects of his garish life.

That said, even with all I knew of this man, nothing prepared me for what I was to find inside Trump Tower. Being inside Trump Tower feels like being in the center of a diseased psyche. It feels like mental illness made normative. It feels like narcissism so unbounded it has a palpable presence. Inside, the image and name of Trump is as omnipresent as was that of Kim ll-sung’s in North Korea. Indeed, even in a nation as frighteningly and increasingly narcissistic as America — the land that created and perpetuates “the selfie, ” — Trump brings a horrifying new dimension to the unseen and deadly affliction.
In the ancient Greek myth, Narcissus, unable to pull away from his own reflection, or so internally fractured he could not believe he even existed without constant affirmation, drowns in a pond. The myth is instructive should one be open to instruction. Like the junkie needs junk, the narcissist must see his or her reflection everywhere they look; must hear the echo of their own voice every time someone else speaks; writhes in agony at the reality that others exist and others matter; that they are not the sun and moon and stars. It was narcissism that compelled a Michael Bloomberg to do his best to remake Manhattan Island in his gilded image of the same. It is narcissism that compels a Bill Gates to try to insidiously reduce education, and indeed all life, to a mirror image of a computer operating system. It is narcissism that compels a Donald Trump to perceive the presidency of the United States as an entry-level job and one that he, Trump is capable and worthy of.
Trump’s conceit is merely pathetic. What is deeply disturbing is that many, many Americans seem to agree with him. And that too is a form of narcissism.

Enter Trump Tower and you can feel the illness in the air. Visit one of the two Trump Stores inside. There the only “books” for sale are books “written” by Donald Trump. ( “Think Like A Champion”, Think Big and Kick Ass” , “Time To Get Tough” and more. ) There the only shirts for sale are “designed “ by Donald Trump. There one may purchase a Donald Trump tie, a Donald Trump teddy bear, a Donald Trump baseball hat, or a bar of chocolate in the form of a bar of gold labeled “Trump.”

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If you are hungry you can find nourishment at the Trump Café while a drink can be procured at the Trump Bar. Or you can bring the kids for a cone at Trump’s Ice Cream.
If you desire the effluvium of Donald Trump — and what “winner” wouldn’t? — you may purchase one of the two Donald Trump perfumes, “Success” or “Empire.”

All of this might be darkly funny if Trump were merely continuing his pathetic pre-political lust for perpetual attention. But he is not. Americans have allowed Trump to emerge, somehow, as a legitimate political figure, indeed the front runner of his party as they prepare for another debate this Wednesday. Many, many Americans appear to love and admire this man.
And that is the place where the disturbing reality of Donald Trump merges with and reveals the disturbing reality of all too much of America.

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Addendum: And here is a bit of that reality. http://cnn.it/1KpyGPj