April 29, 2017

Assumptions: Confessional and Resource Page on Trump's Mental Illness

Archangel by Fernando Botero

Resource Page: Is Trump mentally ill; or is he "just" a Narcissist?


Another of my asinine assumptions was shattered a few weeks ago. Busting through unconscious assumptions has become a normalized experience ever since learning that my perceptions were mine alone to own. The way I think, believe and feel isn't how every other person thinks, feels and believes and this can be a rude awakening for people like myself, people who assume their view of the world is shared by every other brilliant, moral and righteous human being whose common sense exceeds the herd mentality of the unenlightened. ha!

However, and there's research to back me up: what I see isn't what other people see even if we're staring into the same abyss. Or, in this particular situation, staring at the inevitable, regrettable and unforgettable apocalyptic outcome of Donald Trump's presidency.

When friends and family told me they supported Trump, I thought-to-myself, "Well, if you knew about the inevitable harm caused by pathological narcissists like I know about the inevitable harm they cause, the hair would stand up on the back of your neck and even if both your legs were broken and your eyes had been pecked out by Poe's raven, you'd crawl to a polling booth to cast your nevermore vote in braille!" 

I assumed the vast majority (as in 99%) of Americans realized Hillary would be a more competent president than a man who believed he was king because nobody dared tell him otherwise. Not true. I was wrong. People saw what they wanted or needed to see in order to keep the beliefs they wanted or needed to believe. What hope does an electorate have if a highly-skilled manipulator is conning us while we're also conning ourselves? Oh, the people we believe when there's intent to deceive and oh, the lies we tell ourselves to silence the rap, rapping, tapping of unconscious assumptions.

The Day My Head Nearly Exploded

I spoke with lots of people during the 2016 election. People who seemed rational enough to use sharp instruments instead of crayons at the voting booth. People who were employed by the healthcare industry which I assumed meant an automatic rejection of Trump because repealing healthcare would threaten their livelihood and betray their principles. You know: compassion for patients, aiding the sick and poor, emulating the Good Samaritan? But no, they didn't question what would happen to their job or their patients. I asked why they were voting for a man devoted to destroying our social safety net and they said they trusted Trump to have everyone's best interests at heart, augmented by their intuition confirming he was the right man for the job. (Lots of tells in the words we choose, eh?)

They also told me that if they had to sacrifice what they wanted (healthcare) in order to do the right thing for our country, then the un-treated death of their own child would have meaning. Such cult-like devotion didn't sit right by me because my daughter has multiple sclerosis and needs medical treatment and lots of it. I have learned ever since trumpism took shameless hold in our american culture that appealing to people's empathy would not be effective. There's no point reminding people that anyone can get sick, even people thinking positive thoughts the whole damn day. And. There's no point bringing mercy into the conversation, either. All it does is increase people's defenses against being called heartless and cruel; and then the crazy stuff happens when people say they are showing agape love for sick people because they aren't enabling sloth and greed and entitlement.

One woman told me how excited she was to see American children participating in the presidential election. Her local grade school auditorium had been the polling station where she voted in November and this little kid waited outside the window waving a hand-written sign: Vote Trump! She assumed of course, that I'd be delighted the same way she was. I managed an oddly weird smile wondering if she'd feel the same delight if her own son acted like Trump. Would she want her son mimicking Trump's low character because that's what kids do when they idealize role models. Was she okay with Trump's whatever-it-took-to-win attitude, his lying, his cheating, his "ends justifying the means" philosophy? Did she believe his millions of dollars compensated for a lack of conscience and empathy? And what about her daughter, the one who wanted to run for president when she grew up? Would she be okay if on her daughter's way to the lectern, a man reached out and gave her a thumbs up in her what-nots? Would that be okay? Or would this mother need to see the man's financial assets in order to determine his rights to her daughter's down-theres? 

I gave up on the uneducated populace having a clue about Trump's narcissism (we call 'em "civilians" in the recovery community). These were people who didn't know a whit about narcissism, as unwitting as my naive self when meeting a man who betrayed his promises and blamed his inadequacies on me. Who was I to criticize people who hadn't studied narcissism as extensively as myself and my peers, some of whom have traveled this bumpy road for years now.

And so I asked a few self-educated, experienced people what they thought of Trump, assuming any person who could recite their NPD's with academic footnotes and experiential anecdotes would recognize tout suite that Trump was a narcissist. I assumed our discussions would center on just how narcissistic Trump might be, not NO, he isn't a narcissist. I assumed discussions would admit we weren't able to diagnose anyone with a mental illness because we weren't psychologists, but my wizened friends would agree Trump was a tragedy-in-the-making. I assumed my peers would reject Trump accompanied by the moral urge to warn people about the ruthless territory we'd be in if he were elected. I assumed any american with a grain of sense would reject a bilious cad believing women were up for his grabs, service objects in his bed-rheumy eyes. "Surely recovery folks like me, will see his narcissism!" Or so I assumed. And then Trump was elected and the unbelievable fact of his presidency took days to sink into my brain. It was that unreal!

I couldn't believe Trump had been elected and the shock of my disbelief battled back and forth unremittingly before settling into a horrible reality. It was a lot like that moment after learning about NPD and a woman had to admit with a thud that she'd married a dud. At least this time I knew hearing myself say, "I cannot believe..." was a sure-sign of cognitive dissonance, the tweety-birds reaction we write about during recovery. This reaction was proof I had unconsciously idealized the American electorate. We tend to do that, assume everyone thinks like we do even when we know they don't.  I didn't think I did that anymore, though. I assumed my knowledge about cognitive biases would prevent self-deception or at least make it easier to catch. But the truth is that I, without realizing it, had assumed Americans wanted to be the self-professed moral beacons they bragged about being to the rest of our rudderless world. It simply would not compute in my brain that people who claimed to be the most compassionate and fair-minded and god-worshiping people on earth would be thrilled to have the most exploitative, entitled and self-worshiping narcissist to ever run for president. I had to shake my head until the marbles rolled into alignment and for better or worse, I started writing again. 

And then...I dared talk about Trump on a narcissism forum. Now one would think discussing Trump and narcissism would be a topic everyone could agree on, right? Or is it just me, maybe its me; and even if I'm the only person who assumed "informed" people would agree Trump was a narcissist, I can accept my asinine-tinged assumptions and open my mind. A little. But dear readers who have managed to stick with me all these years, be wary of asking the following question at your next sermon about Jesus, at your familial dinner table with sick relatives needing care, in a narcissism forum or message board with DSM-reading people, or even at your local sandwich shop piling on the ham and cheese. Pause. Think. Choose wisely before asking:

"Do you think Trump is mentally ill or JUST a narcissist?"
Louis XVI or Donald Trump?
"If you are foolish enough to ask, at least don't assume other people see the same pomposity you see!" And that is the wisdom of an Aquarian with a visionary mind and humanitarian principles that aren't always shared by the rest of humanity, or so my astrology-interested daughter delights in telling me each time I bump up against r-e-a-l-i-t-y. She says my cool temperament disguises my passionate beliefs while continually and constantly and inadequately arguing my case against bigotry and ignorance. (Paterson) She also tells me I'm a Rowan Tree keeping people from getting lost on long journeys, protecting them from malevolent beings. Do you feel better about following my blog now? I do.
So I asked the question: "Do you think Trump is mentally ill or JUST a narcissist?" and DSM-educated people answered. Then I watched them leap through fiery hoops and over devilishly high obstacles to protect his majesty's reputation while trump-splainin' to the Rowan Tree. While they danced and twirled and dislodged themselves from all-that-is-holy-and-sacred, it felt like I was looking at myself a dozen years ago. They were me and I was them, a spectacle in self-deception 'cuz yea, I performed similar gymnastics defending the narcissist near and dear to my heart---soaring through hoops on fire with the accompanying scorch marks to prove my loyalty.

And that is why I know that:

When you don't want to see what you don't want to see, there's almost no ends to which you'll go exalting that person before admitting you made a mistake; that the person you chose was a taker, a faker, a heartless policy maker. We can handle the truth sooner than we think most of the time, and then and only then will we see what we didn't want to see when we assumed a certain narcissist mirrored our thoughtful reflection.

As long as people don't examine unconscious biases, they can believe Trump is a benevolent patriarch who despite his clumsy authoritarian ways, has everyone's best interests at heart. And because he's such a lovable goofy and oh-so-ordinary guy like themselves (add his money to absolve all sins), they trust they'll be rewarded for preserving his rights while giving up their own. It's the same lousy story in every narcissistic relationship---we trust and they betray. Period. So in my e-steamed and unprofessional opinion, Trump triggers people to construct the same defenses we used with the first narcissist in our lives. As hard as it is to admit being duped conned and taken for a ride (nobody likes it!), there is richness to be gleaned from self-exploration and self-honesty.


Currently, the psychological community is engaged in a yuuuge debate about Trump's narcissistic personality. Clinical psychologists, experienced in understanding and identifying the narcissistic personality, have chosen sides. The argumentation is that Trump has a mental illness, a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and the citizenry should be warned about his pathology. He's not "just" a narcissist like politicians and celebrities and bloggers tend to be.

Because my lousy sciatica has me grounded in a comfy chair, I pulled together a Resource Page for people who might not have time to google and collate this debate. I hope my page of links will make it easier to follow this history-making discussion, one that will be talked about for years if we survive Trump's presidency. And let's give respect where respect is due because psychologists will suffer fall-out for suggesting Trump has a mental illness. This can't have been an easy decision for anyone and yet psychologists have taken a courageous stand anyway. Now that's a role model worth mimicking.

Hugs all! (Even those who told me Trump was awesome)
CZ


RESOURCES

Cognitive Biases. Wikipedia page.

Helena Paterson. 1998. Celtic Astrology. Pg. 20

Dana Milbank. Repealing Obamacare Could Violate International Law. April 2007 The Washington Post (Post-election note: I'm not sure why people aren't troubled by the United Nations warning Trump that repealing healthcare violated international law. Trump-folks told me the great USA would never bow to nobody, especially not the UN).

A Traumatic Election: Emotional Overwhelm and Voice March 2017. Narcissistic Continuum

Just Say It: 45 IS a Narcissist! February 2017 Narcissistic Continuum



33 comments:

  1. Maybe desoriented people - due to real difficult material conditions or media-suffocated that they're onthe verge of losing something fondamental) tend to follow tough leaders with easy solutions.
    Anxiety puts you in a tunnel vision.
    Hugs
    nat

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    1. Yes, those are possible reasons as to why people look for a strong man to save them from social changes which won't restore the Old Order that may have benefited them (or their parents, etc.). I also think Trump stirs people's fears, a way of evacuating his own fears so he feels better when other people act on his projections. Fear causes tunnel vision. It's hard to think straight when you're afraid. Good points, Nat.

      I also think we spend too much time figuring out why someone votes the way they do and not-enough-time looking at the way politicians take advantage of people's unquestioned assumptions. ( I believe most people go through life without examining their assumptions).

      It's much easier to polarize people so they'll pledge allegiance to a political party if leaders appeal to our "lesser angels". Everyone is susceptible to self-deception and marketing propagandists understand this only-too-well. They know what they are doing and we'd best understand that fact.

      It's hopeful to me that we are discussing how our "gut instincts" are used and abused by advertisers, politicians, celebrities, CEO's, you name it. Anywhere there's a dollar, someone's figuring out how to put it in their own pocket while making us feel good about their thievery. We are so accustomed to being marketed to and lied to by advertisers/marketers, that we've become numb to liars like Donald Trump. I hope to write more about that soon.

      Being an older woman, I can testify to this social change and it has infected everyone, changed all of us and NOT for the better. If a person tries to be honest, they are made fun of today. If a person cares about someone without health insurance or children without food, they are mocked for being "weak and liberal". Money has become the goal, not character.

      I am not rabidly angry at people who voted for Trump and I really hope this comes through in my writing. They are my friends even if we disagree.

      What I realized in composing this article is that I understand the twisted logic of people who are enmeshed in a narcissistic relationship and that is something to think about if we believe/know Trump IS a narcissist. If someone follow hims, votes for him, agrees with him and justifies his behavior, they are IN a narcissistic relationship and they WILL be hurt because of it.

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    2. Hi, CZ. You wrote "how "gut instincts" are used and abused by advertisers, politicians, celebrities, CEO's, you name it."

      This is something i'm becoming more aware of and want to share this four minute video. Two ideas are brought up therein.

      1) Compromised self-perception
      2) Compromised self-worth

      https://youtu.be/zUyvRQzkyp4

      I think it's relevant to this blog because no one is immune to mind control. But once you're aware you can guard yourself.

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    3. Younger people are learning about "manipulation", how emotions are targeted because we aren't the unemotional decision makers we thought we were. But sometimes I wonder if this education has backfired, making people more 'certain' of their ability to filter propaganda and marketing? Well, it's wise to learn what we can about the way our minds work and our hearts but as you've mentioned, "no one is immune"and the more we think we are, the more susceptible we might be. Our hubris gets in the way and then we wake up one day and we're living in a bunker eating rationed beans and wondering when the space ship will arrive. How did we get there? Maybe "compromised self-perception and compromised self-worth" have something to do with it.

      I keep a movie blog with a Cult Videos category about halfway down the page if you're interested:

      LINK: The WoN Cinema

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  2. People have a right to a voice and I feel respect towards their trying to raise their opinions and compassion for their fears and hopes and vulnerability. Obviously they won't understand they're fooled until they experience it.
    Let's count on american democracy to be solid and it is to prevent a slaughter.
    I regret in these situations lots of energy is wasted that could have been spent better and sooner. But again people need to be educated by experience as most of them lack an education to reach the right conclusions in another way. This is not to be contemptuous as nobody's always right.
    As for the narcissistic relationship, it's disturbing to find the same pattern on different scale. As a collective entity we're susceptible to the same powers. Food for thought...
    Juge
    nat

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    1. Lacking direct experience with pathological personality types may explain why people can't make sense of Trump's behaviors. Most of the time, we simply excuse or rationalize or minimize behaviors we don't understand IF we like the candidate, that is. If we don't know "shamelessness" is a Red Flag for pathology, we'll ASSUME someone like Trump is courageous or brave because he's "facing his shame." But geez...he isn't feeling shame and that's something most people don't even know is possible. They also don't know that pathological personalities lack remorse---they never experience regret and sorrow for the harm they've caused others. Trump himself has told us what his diagnosis is but only if we understand pathology.

      His behavior is highly indicative of "malignant narcissism" which is a narcissism syndrome though not officially listed as a mental illness in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It's a combo-pack of NPD plus psychopathy. I added a couple of links on the Resource Link by a psychologist named Steve Becker since he believes Trump is a malignant narcissist and dares to say so.

      If any nation can defeat a psychopathic president, I have to hope it's the USA. I have to believe we will come to grips with our own narcissism-run-amok and learn powerful lessons not only about politicians, but also about ourselves. My marriage ended because my values collided with my ex's and honestly? We might not know what we believe, what our values are, until they're being trampled. So this can be a huge awakening for people and I hope our democracy is strong enough to manage the battle.

      Like yourself, I also regret the amount of time being spent on Trump. Once again, this parallels every narcissistic relationship in which we find ourselves focused on someone else and not ourselves. We have decided as a family to spend an entire dinner together without speaking of Trump. ha! Honestly, we had to intervene because the man will take up every second of every day and our personal relationships will deteriorate as a result.

      Thanks juge nat.

      p.s. I had to chuckles at your signature because we have a popular tv show called "judge judy". ha!

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  3. "Juge" appeared as I typed "hugs" ! Am I being judgmental towards less educated people ? Intelligence has nothing to do with education. Is education only a conditioning ? I was raised in a rather individualistic and competitive environment and education gave me a more positive view and trust in the collective. Hugs
    nat

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    1. I don't think we are being judgmental towards people who haven't educated themselves about pathological personalities. I can get angry but then I remember myself and how people warned me about my ex---but I didn't believe them. IT's always hard for me to point fingers at anyone after suffering through the misery of my stubbornness.

      I like your comment about "education giving a more positive view and trust of the collective." Well yes...same thing for me. Understanding human behavior, our development, our socialization and now our neurology, has united the whole of humanity. Ignorance disconnects, biases developing from a fear of the "other", the unknown. I started learning about NPD in order to understand---not to condemn.

      Hugs
      CZ

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    2. We're indeed not judgmental.
      I have 2 examples of people dropped in the world at a young age with unfinished school and no reasonable support. Untrustful and unempathic in both cases (number of cluster B traits). That doesn't make a scientific study but just a correlation that made me consider a lack of education as a possible co-factor of producing a lost soul.
      Hugs
      Nat

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    3. There may be something to what you say. At least we can say education creates a drive for someone to elevate the soul, and sharpen the intellect. Consider this quote

      "the quality of their lives depends on the quality of their thinking. We all engage in numerous dysfunctional practices to avoid facing problems in our thinking"

      source: http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/becoming-a-critic-of-your-thinking/605

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    4. Excellent site, Rob, thank you!

      I also read this (linked below) page and found it very useful for anyone at any "stage" of critical thinking. Some of the suggestions are techniques people learn in therapy, helping us screw our heads back on straight. There's some messedup thinking going on in the narcissistic relationship:

      LINK: Critical Thinking in Everyday Life

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    5. Intellectual honesty is hard discipline.
      Sometimes I turn a little bit delusional, following too far the slope of a certain logic.
      However I always feel it, which is not an excuse though... I also feel it's not right which helps correct the trajectory sooner or later. In the end it must be above all (and at the root) a question of moral posture and before that of entitlement.
      Ability to reason not sustained by a conscience ruins the soul...
      So I may be too idealistic on education.
      What I observed around me is that there is a correlation between certain areas of stupidity and a deficiency in empathy. Maybe both are two consequences of a global deficiency resulting in learning disabilities.
      nat

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  4. When Trump first won the election I was sympathetic to those who voted for him but I've changed my mind. The only explanation is they are stupid. How can anyone believe that a billionaire would, suddenly at age 70, care about the citizens of the United States above his own self interests? You don't have to know anything about narcissism or mental illness to see he is totally unqualified to be president.
    Those that didn't vote at all, don't cry about your health insurance disappearing or your taxes going to build up the military instead of schools. People, use your brains, think for yourself and vote.

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    1. I hear you and understand your sentiments, Silver Voyager. Trump is dividing people---pitting us against one another just like any other narcissist in an organization or family. However, the divide in our nation started long before Trump; though I honestly didn't expect him to represent the so-called moral majority. (where's my eye-rolling emoticon?) It is somewhat comforting to see that the chosen leader of the religious right is totally crazy. ;-P

      One thing we know about narcissistic personalities: they call themselves what they ain't. So Trump sets things straight again, at least in my opinion. He IS who his followers are. Being able to see his bigotry, racism, sexism, materialism ("trumpism") allows us to deal with truth.

      As long as people claim to be something they aren't, the 'resistance" gets lost in uncertainty, disbelief and confusion. Our disabling confusion is the "fog" narcissism sites write about. For example: a person might have a sense that her boss is destroying her reputation but she can't take action because HE SAYS she's a valued employee and there's nobody he'd rather employ than her. If she could see him making plans with the legal department to cut her off without severance, she could do something to protect herself. Well, I kinda think that's how it's been in the USA. We lie to other people and we lie to ourselves because we don't really want to know what our hidden assumptions might be.

      The unhealthy side of American narcissism has been coming to a head for years. Are ya ready to speak truth to power; are ya ready to stand up for others?

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  5. Indeed people who use mainly " guts instinct " mode do it because they haven't learned to think. Therefore they lack tools to take to pieces bad reasoning. I'm sad I don't believe people can learn critical thinking past student age.
    What can help ? When they say they understand what you mean, they're still using their guts : they trust you so you're probably right...
    We definitely need both mode.
    nat

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    1. Americans are hell-bent to "trust their guts" more than "reason" and this is contrary to what I experienced while living in France. France is where I learned to think critically, no longer fearing reprisals for having a different opinion than the hostess at the dinner table. It was a marvelous mind-opening time in my life.

      Can people learn critical thinking? I can't say with any authority but am inclined to believe they can. The brain is plastic, constantly renewing itself and creating new pathways of thought so it makes sense to me that we could train ourselves to think better, to reason better. But that would require broad acceptance by the larger society, encouraging people to use their brain and their gut. This wouldn't fare well with propagandists/marketers, would it? Much easier to target people's gut instincts and tell them to trust their emotions rather than question them.

      I have used textbooks to help myself think better and haven't known other friends/family members who were inclined to do likewise. So perhaps the biggest hurdle is the person him or herself. It surprises me all the time that people aren't interested in how their minds "think" (and really don't want to know that their intuition might be wrong or that their thinking might be biased). This lack of curiosity about how one makes decisions is really strange to me. ~CZ

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    2. Maybe there's some good critical thinking in France but also a tendency to overcriticize everything and everyone beginning with our own country. More than "never good enough" : "never good". That's what makes us look so arrogant sometimes although the same people are probably ashamed to be french. Very cluster B !
      Hugs
      nat

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  6. Hello CZ,
    (I wrote so much, I will have to split this into two comments!) I too have been watching the rather "interesting" dynamics on the forum you mentioned. Things on that forum reached a point where I stopped participating in certain discussion topics. In fact, I stopped about a month before the discussion of Trump's narcissism was taken off line. The problem I saw was that, as you had pointed out, many people who had supposedly come to the forum because of their personal experiences with a narcissist in realspace either rushed to Trump's defense or protested that they felt "unsafe" and "triggered" by a frank discussion of the man's obvious evil. (There was one other thing I noticed. Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but it seemed that whenever there was an honest discussion of the large numbers of people who were likely to be hurt by a Trump presidency, the forum would explode with a number of new threads started by people who wanted to discuss "other things", and the discussion of Trump and of what to do about him got buried.)

    I think there are a couple of dynamics at work here. First, (and here I'm putting on my paranoid tinfoil hat again ;) ), those of us who are real people who want to be decent souls do sometimes establish an online presence through forums, bulletin boards and blogs. However, there are those who have a vested interest in crafting an image of the American populace, such as the image of America as a nation in which a majority of people have chosen to take a hard right turn. Among those who want to craft such an image are people who have lots of money, and they can pay people to lurk on forums or post comments on blogs. When your day job is posting lots of right wing comments on forums, you can make decent money pretending to be lots of people - thus helping to create the appearance of a nation that is leaning hard to the right.

    But I see a second dynamic at work, because I do meet people who voted for Trump and who support him even now. (In fact, I seem to meet them a bit more often than I'd like!) I hate to say it, but I think the vast majority of them voted for him for all the same reasons - namely, that they want to hold onto an identity based on supremacy for as long as possible, and they are deathly afraid of the emergence of a world they might have to share on an equal footing with others. And this is the thing that has blown me away over the last three years - knowing that among the many online voices commenting on narcissism and describing stories of surviving narcissistic abuse, there are those who refuse to discuss American national narcissism, or racism and bigotry as a symptom of that narcissism. If they do discuss these things, they say that the victims of oppression deserve to be oppressed. (I remember one forum commenter in particular who basically said that all African-Americans are criminals. Another blogger wrote a post about three years ago, with the title, "Do Black Lives Matter? And To Whom?") It's like they are saying, "I suffered a lot, and here's my story that I wanna tell ya, so please pity me! But let's not extend that same pity to those who have been the historical victims of our society, because they deserve to suffer!" A frank discussion of these issues shines a light on their own narcissism, and they can't handle it.

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  7. Can such people be cured, then? Maybe - but I think only by suffering the painful consequences of their diseased thinking. I believe that the outworkings of damnation always eventually catch up to those who choose to be damnable. Sometimes those outworkings arrive early enough, and the people who suffer those outworkings are sensitive enough, that the suffering produces a real change of mind. I think of Germany after World War Two. But sometimes the sufferers are so insensitive that they are not easily converted, as was the case with the American South after the Civil War and Russia after the collapse of the USSR. I see those outworkings coming upon Britain now as it suffers the real and painful consequences of the temper tantrum known as the Brexit. And in the case of the U.S., if Trump and his cronies really succeed in repealing Obamacare, a lot of poor red-staters will die.

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    1. Hi TH in SoC,

      I was surprised by the numbers of people who could apply nine DSM criteria to potential-Ns in their lives yet didn't see ANY worrisome signs of narcissism in Trump. I threw my hands in the air and vowed to stop writing because Trump is the finest example of narcissism people like myself could ever hope to use as a teaching model.

      My next argument was bringing in an arsenal of psychologists to convince people to at least consider the possibility of Trump's mental illness. Well, no. Not even the best of clinical psychologists convinced people to question their perceptions; or ponder why they might NOT WANT to see Trump as a "N." The more I tried to convince people, the more resistant they became, rejecting me and defending Trump. This was a dynamic I had also experienced when talking about my ex's narcissism---similar to "shooting the messenger" rather than questioning one's biases.

      As sad as it is to say, people will cling to their beliefs/opinions and throw away perfectly good friendships instead. Crazy, aren't we?

      The good news is that my frustration inspired more research. My goal is understanding, not proving who's right and who's wrong. Although---yea, I am right about Trump being a narcissist.;-P

      I came across an explanation of the BackFire Effect here: You're Not Going to Believe What I'm About To Tell You (If you click this link, be warned about "language").

      As far as anonymous people go, I had interacted with each person, our discussions going back years in some cases. A dear friend chose to end our relationship because my opinions about Trump were so troubling for her. I have probably lost acquaintances who didn't feel it necessary to tell me off (yea!); but losing friends over a jackass like Trump is disheartening. If my inept handling of the topic was alienating, then I'd better figure out why and how to handle divisive topics because we should be talking about Trump's narcissism! We're the ones studying the disorder!

      It's the same triangulation whenever narcissists are involved, though. We split into factions: rescuers and persecutors with the N-as-victim running the show. Sick, isn't it? I believe it's best NOT to engage in behavior that makes us hate ourselves afterwards and if that means we can't discuss Donald Trump, sobeit. But what a conundrum---how do we (psychologists and educated layfolk) warn people about a political leader's pathological narcissism? Does it even matter? Are we making things worse by educating people about pathology?

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    2. One more thought about discussing Trump with narcissism survivors: people might assume some of these folks weren't really narcissism survivors since they couldn't even see Trump's narcissism. I think something else is at play and that could be "unhealed trauma reactions". They haven't yet released themselves from an authoritarian childhood. If we haven't yet done this work (and we're never "done"), we might "defend" our view of Trump in order to avoid further self-scrutiny. Trump's authoritarian leadership opens a Pandora's Box of unclaimed, untreated traumas. Maybe.

      Notice how Trump uses fear and uncertainty to keep people unstable so we can't think rationally---reacting instead? It's like Stockholm Syndrome when the hostage bonds to the hostage-taker and it's completely crazy-making to outsiders looking in. Defending one's captor is NOT a conscious decision. People are under a spell. Unconscious forces filter perceptions only the authoritarian spell goes back to childhood when we learned to obey-without-protest, to trust authorities without question (especially males). There's a lot to undo now that Trump has risen to the surface like an infested splinter in the American conscience.

      What's increasingly dangerous is that people are unwilling to heed the warnings of "experts" whom they view as "elites" (who is an elite? Anyone who makes someone "feel" less than???). We end up trusting authoritarians because we are living through the unconscious (unhealed) fears of the child. It's a theory---a thought worth considering perhaps.

      I also believe unhealthy american narcissism is raising it's ugly head because we are NOT who we claim to be; but that requires a long essay about my experience living in France and what I learned about the American Mentality.

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    3. I can't speak too assuredly of the subject but I feel the American people, although it's the product of a melting pot, has a common religious vision of the way things should be,success retributing efforts and talent and hard work being rewarded with a wealthy life. There's a sense of a divine justice here. Therefore nowadays there must be a deep feeling of injustice and betrayal at a spiritual level.
      Also "masculinity" is strong in the US. It seems to me that french men have let go of more of it (not as much towards woman as towards life in general).
      I certainly don't want to be simplistic but I think "masculine" agentic values could be a little bit put aside in number of cases to allow more happiness. Not an easy subject...
      Hugs
      nat

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    4. I so agree, nat! The first time I noticed the American Optimism, was watching french movies. ;-P "Hey, where's the happy ending!! I didn't watch this movie to get depressed!!" My Swedish friend would say, "Let's rent an American movie where everything turns out swell" and at first, I had no idea what she was talking about. ha!

      I unconsciously believed in a "Just World hypothesis" which needed a serious reckoning when my marriage ended and years of hard work poured down the drain, without harvest, without recompense, without the reward we're supposed to get if we're "good". Americans believe in meritocracy and this idea is rearing its ugly head in our debate over healthcare as a "right" or a "privilege."

      Masculinity is another important factor, thus the Strong Man leader. I also believe racism is fundamental to trump's election but it's hard to talk about the impact of slavery without people becoming defensive.

      I think we have a healthier understanding of who we are as Americans after this debacle of an election and the thing is: it's not all about trump. It's about the american electorate's willingness to vote for a man who had shown who he was for thirty years before running for president. If trump is who we are, well...okay. Let's admit it. Let's stop pretending we're something we're not.

      p.s. Never forget that trump did not win the popular vote so he does not represent the majority of Americans by any stretch! Therein lies real hope...

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    5. I heard he has not won with a real majority of the Americans.
      What I've forgotten to add is that what lots of Americans feel is felt also in France : empathy towards persons that are different - physically, socially, culturally etc - is not a natural state of mind. Fears and distrust prevail when we live without communicating with each other in separate worlds. Not such an old phenomenon in France but our more recent melting pot with culturally very different people is driving us to the same situation in Europe...
      Hugs
      nat

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    6. I heard he has not won with a real majority of the Americans.
      What I forgot to add is that what lots of Americans feel is felt also in France : empathy towards persons that are different - physically, socially, culturally etc - is not a natural state of mind. Fears and distrust prevail when we live without communicating with each other in separate worlds. Not such an old phenomenon in France but our more recent melting pot with culturally very different people is driving us to the same situation.
      hugs
      nat

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  8. Hello,
    It looks like the economic crisis has a polarizing effect on both wealth distribution and critical thinking concerning the issues. In France, many people also believe the fairy tale that their situation can improve by damaging other people situation outside and inside the country.
    nat

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    1. Tears of happiness for Macron's election yesterday. The French were not as gullible as my fellow Americans, always ready to believe the most preposterous lies if those lies justify what they want to believe is true. ha! I'll probably get myself in deep trouble over that comment but I intend to write more thoroughly about "everything I learned from my beloved French friends" in a separate post. Living in France for almost five years was a turning point in my american narcissism for sure!

      The urge to blame others, to demean others in order to build oneself up seems to be a human behavior no matter where we live or what we believe. We must be on guard with ourselves because we are fed divisive (narcissistic) propaganda every day---even from our pulpits. ARGH

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  9. One in three persons has voted for the french trumpette...
    Have you been a student in France ?
    Hugs
    nat



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    Replies
    1. Hi Nat! We moved to Grenoble when our children were eight years old and eleven. My ex worked for an American company establishing the personal computer business in France. I became very close to my neighbors and it opened my mind to think more critically about, well, about everything!

      I attended University to study French because we couldn't speak the language when we moved there but it has been so long that I'm timid about writing or speaking today. Both of my children are fluent without accent but yea, everyone knew immediately that I was American. My maternal heritage is French so I wanted very much to move there when my ex was offered the opportunity.

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    2. I've lived an hour from Grenoble for 15 years (bien in Paris)
      What region was your maternal heritage from ?
      nat

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    3. Born in Paris but I was looking for fresh air.

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    4. My ancestors arrived in Nova Scotia (Acadians) eventually moving to Louisiana (cajuns). I'm unsure where they originated in France. Now my curiosity is peaked. I'll ask a family genealogist (they may not know for sure either).

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    5. Probably from a west coast part of France and courageous people.
      Hugs
      nat

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