How the American id has unmasked itself and what it means for your weekend

Photo: Eric Thayer, The New York Times

Today, dear readers, we will combine two of the most popular features of this blog: Drumpf Chronicles Quote of The Day and yours truly Important Musings on Psychopathology (IMP), wrapped in an end-of-the-week rant.

First, the quote, from Trump’s court deposition during a lawsuit he filed against Tim O’Brien, author of an extensively researched book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald; the National Review  writer, Ian Tuttle, calls this exchange, aptly, “a crystallization of the Trump ethos:”

Q: Now, Mr. Trump, have you always been completely truthful in your public statements about your net worth of properties?

A: I try.

Q: Have you ever not been truthful?

A: My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings, but I try.

Q: Let me just understand that a little bit. Let’s talk about net worth for a second. You said that the net worth goes up and down based upon your own feelings?

A: Yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day. Then you have a September 11th, and you don’t feel so good about yourself and you don’t feel so good about the world and you don’t feel so good about New York City. Then you have a year later, and the city is as hot as a pistol. Even months after that it was a different feeling. So yeah, even my own feelings affect my value to myself.

Q: When you publicly state what you’re worth, what do you base that number on?

A: I would say it’s my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.

We talked previously about a narcissistic psychopath’s (NP) disregard for shared human reality with its pesky facts and values which impose healthy inhibitions on those who possess a conscience.

The conscience-free NP is not constrained by such inhibitions. Because of that, he can create reality as it suits his needs at the moment, resulting in its grandiosely or otherwise distorted version that is breathtakingly and laughably false, but for an NP is as real as can be. He can make up alter egos with different names to interact in an official capacity with his critics, but it will not seem in any way strange to him, nor something he should explain to anyone. He can repeat with a straight face that there is no violence at his rallies; or, when no longer able to deny it, will insist that he and his people are the ones being attacked, in spite of the evidence proving otherwise; but he is not lying in the sense of knowingly and purposely twisting the truth.

The NP does not see what the rest of us see and does not value what most of us do. Not having a conscience makes him blissfully free to fly as high as it pleases him in the unreality of his own creation. And if you try to bring him down to Earth, by confronting him with the lack of evidence for his confabulations or pinning him down on some (ah, so irrelevant) detail, he will have a ready and plausible — to him — explanation. In any case, he will not be perturbed by such minor matters, and will accuse you of being petty or nasty or worse for pestering him. Or, better yet, sue you — one of NP’s favorite activities.

This bizarre and infuriating behavior comes across as manipulative — and it is — but the manipulation is not (always) conscious. It is just that NP’s reality is really different from that of the rest of us. His cognitive apparatus is primed to filter and distort data according to his feelings. We all do this to some, often large extent; but the pathology of character disorders like NP lies in the pervasiveness and intractability of those distortions, even in the face of cold, hard facts. Especially in the face of cold, hard facts. The distortions are what makes the NP’s peculiar — and dangerous — character.

It is not, however, as though Trump’s understanding of himself and the world is entirely fact-free. There are three major facts — pillars of Truth According to Trump — around which his whole reality is organized:

  1. I am great.
  2. People unfairly malign me.
  3. I will show them (= they will pay).

Those are not just beliefs, mind you — they are facts etched deep in the man’s psyche, and they evoke corresponding emotional states of 1. grandiose pride, 2. sense of victimhood and resentment, 3. desire for revenge, which form the core of his self and inner world.

This is not a self of a healthy human being, obviously.

Trump is not just a textbook case, however — he is the archetype, if there were such, of this peculiar human malady — and more. Watching him in his element — 21st century America — is a dream, or maybe more accurately a nightmare come true for an observer of human nature.

This is because his pathology, and the havoc it wreaks, represent the workings of an almost unadulterated human id writ large. It is the dark matter of human existence, which, when made visible, becomes the stuff of horrors.

According to Freudian psychology, id is the unconscious part of our psyche that contains the primitive and (rightly) repressed impulses driven by our unchecked sexual and aggressive instincts. Their everyday expression is codified in the Christian tradition as well as in popular culture as seven deadly sins. Pride, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, greed, and envy? Donald counts them off on his short fingers in a blink, and still has three more left: for ignorance, misogyny, and bad hair.

Id is the realm of omnipotent fantasy of all kinds (violent, sexual, infantile) and wishful thinking, unencumbered by values represented by superego, and facts and reason, the domain of ego. When id takes over, the constraints imposed by the “grown-ups” of our psyche, our ego and superego, no longer apply. Where id rules, we have narcissistic psychopathy — we have Trump — but also his followers, since they too operate on the same level, which is the major reason for their attraction to him.

In normal people, during times of relative peace and prosperity, our rapacious id is subdued. It is tempered by the values and prohibitions of our superego and the realism of our ego, which teaches us, among other things, how to meet our needs without trampling on those of others — for practical, if not moral reasons (i.e., such give-and-take is just easier for everyone).

But when superego is weakened or absent, in individuals as well as in society — which is what happens in times of uncertainty, crisis, or strife — id easily turns ego into its slave and does what it wants.  Psychopathy is a good example, on the level of individual character organization, of what happens when ego becomes the id’s tool, used to meet its primitive goals; while narcissism enshrines id on the throne that the enslaved ego has dutifully prepared for it.

Group- or state-perpetrated brutality, and especially war, is what the unleashed id looks like on a mass scale. In the case of war, the satisfaction of the destructive appetites of our id has to be sanctified by  imperatives of patriotism and other positive-sounding  “values.” It is because we, human beings with some form of a conscience, are squeamish this way: we like to have good and preferably holy reasons for the raping, killing, and pillaging that our id desires. Those reasons are an example of superego in the service of id, i.e., the co-opting (the weak semblances) of the superego’s higher values to justify our most primitive behaviors. It works like a charm, every time.

But Trump’s character does not represent just a triumph of an ordinary human id; true to fashion, his is its spectacular, American version: the biggest, loudest, most amazing id you’ve ever seen. It is tremendous, folks, truly amazing, for it embodies the myths and desires that have made America great (or so we were made to believe). A self-made man, who really isn’t. A rags-to-riches tale that wasn’t. The classic romance story of a boy meets an Eastern European gold-digging girl (then dumps her for a younger domestic gold-digger, and then dumps that one for another younger Eastern European version). The beliefs that greed is good; America’s business is business; winning is not just the most important thing, but everything; and the winner takes all — and then puts his name on top of it in giant gold letters.

In America, we call it success, and we worship it like the deity that it has become. Why, we pay daily homage to the Holy Market in every newscast, and watch its precious health with concern reserved for our most intimate relations. We do so while believing that this is the land of the free — to consume, if you have money, and to be consumed, if you don’t.  It’s all (p)Art of the Deal, everybody knows it, and nobody exemplifies it as well as Trump. He is truly a man who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

It is America, the home of a snake oil salesman, that invented self-help, reality TV, and WWE, entirely superfluous enterprises fueled by narcissism and psychopathic pursuit of money, in which Trump, a snake oil peddler if there ever was one, eagerly dipped his slightly less than large hands. We had a taste of his dictatorial ambitions in “The Apprentice,” a real life (as far as reality TV qualifies as such) version of “The Hunger Games,” where desperate nobodies let their inner psychopaths fly in order to appease The Donald and curry his favor. He, in turn, took sadistic pleasure in stoking their fears and watching their self-abasement, the same way he stokes and loves to watch violence at his rallies, disavowing any responsibility for it.

This is id at work. This is how NP sows discord: by inflaming the worst impulses in others and watching the results, while gloating and reveling in his power and glory. He cannot help being destructive, as there are no brakes on his id.

This brakelessness endows him with a reverse Midas touch: everything he comes in contact with turns into disaster — relationships, projects, organizations. His compulsion to erect ever grander monuments to his own glory is a way to divert attention, his own and others, from the destruction he sows everywhere around him.

This is what America and the world would most likely look like under President Trump. Not much bread, but enough destructive circuses to keep our id brimming with bloodlust and fear. And while the unwashed masses fight for the ever-diminishing scraps, Trump will fly his well-heeled chums on retreat to Mar-a-Lago to munch on caviar (or meatloaf) and bemoan the crassness of the plebs today.

It is no accident that Trump has risen in this country. Like it or not, psychopathic narcissism and self-delusion it feeds is as American as mass shootings and apple pie. In fact, it is that narcissism, and specifically its frustrated version called aggrieved entitlement, that makes mass shootings as American as apple pie. That very aggrieved entitlement is what drives so many white men to Trump; they see in him an approval and vindication of their id’s desires.

He’s a winner. He’s made billions. He’s dated beautiful women. His wife is a model. That’s not to sniff at. And a lot of people believe he can bring that kind of success to the White House

says Joe the Plumber.

The working and white middle class men, impoverished, marginalized, and feeling emasculated because of women or feminism or blacks or social justice warriors or immigrants or all of the above, revel in the permission that Trump’s rise to power gives them to release their own so far largely constrained narcissistic psychopath, a.k.a alpha male.

It is no surprise, none at all, that the manosphere and neo-Nazis alike are abuzz about Trump’s candidacy. The New World Order is coming, and with it a chance for their revenge on all those who have made their lives miserable. No, not the corporate/banking overlords — those are untouchable idols of the NP’s glory, to be worshipped in his id-driven wet dreams — but the traditional scapegoats: the weak “others.” The collective id of white male spite voters, squelched all these years, is now salivating at the prospect of being unleashed in America under Trump, their payback candidate. They know him, they identify with him, he is one of them. For they, too, firmly believe in the three unassailable facts of the NP’s existence: 1. I am great; 2. People unfairly malign me. 3. I will show them (= they will pay).

Make no mistake, this is not just about jobs and economy, although the rapidly deteriorating situation of the (white, especially) working and middle class provides the necessary conditions for the id’s unmasking. Because those genuinely interested in improving American economy would support a candidate who has a humane program of reversing the staggering inequality in America and who appeals to reason (ego) and values (superego). The kind of hysterical devotion* to The Leader / Father that Trump inspires, the witnessing of which made a veteran GOP propagandist / pollster‘s knees wobble, is very much the work of id.

Listening to Trump’s speeches makes the id involvement apparent. Like any guru worth his weight in clay, he is not saying anything of substance, but latching directly onto people’s fears, prejudices, hatreds, and desires for revenge. It is id-to-id communication, with its trance-like qualities that lull susceptible people — and their number is always greater than you think — into false optimism fed by their most base desires. Like a good guru / savior, he tells them, I know you are hurting; it is not your fault — they are to blame for it. Follow me and I will take your pain away, while vanquishing your oppressors.

It is the magic of those words delivered in an authoritative tone that appeals to id. Empty (and not) promises of revenge, healing, and glory that will follow, work as well for Trump as they do for any political and religious leader. They create a sense of communion and shared purpose which are restorative at the moment, but always destructive in the long run; and they lead people to act in ways they (or some of them at least) would and do find unacceptable once the trance subsides. The slicker — more charismatic, more archetypal, but also more empty of values and id-driven — the guru, the greater his appeal to the masses.

And no one is as archetypal in the collective American mind these days as Trump.

It is then no surprise that when he promises to make America great again, so many believe him, facts be damned. Because no one is as qualified to do it as he is, according to the dictates of the American id. He is, in a way, the American id personified: nobody in the public life exemplifies its psychopathy and narcissism as flamboyantly and successfully as Trump. In the eyes of his supporters, this makes him the long-awaited savior of the nation, embodying in his grandiose and empty mind and bloated body its most notable features. Not surprisingly, in the eyes of his critics, he is the same, minus the savior part.

So while the shocked, shocked pundits are punditing and politicos politicking, the American id, energized by its own manifestations channeled through Trump, flexes its muscles and impatiently waits for a chance to fully assert its rule, as it always does during the days of an empire’s decline.

Lament as we may, Trump was inevitable; if he did not exist (and why wouldn’t he?), the American id would create him at this moment in time out of its bloodlust and the necessity to keep its false dreams alive, so as not expose the dire and unpalatable reality they try to obscure. The id has its privileges, but also duties in a pathocracy.

As to what it all means for your weekend, I don’t know. But I think I may finally watch “The Hunger Games” in its entirety.

*h/t Clare

Edited on 3/26.


Quote of the Day — or Drumpf Chronicles, Part 3

From Washington Post‘s interview with Herr Drumpf:

HIATT: So what do you think China’s aims are in the South China Sea?

TRUMP: Well I know China very well, because I deal with China all the time. I’ve done very well. China’s unbelievably ambitious. China is, uh… I mean, when I deal with China, you know, I have the Bank of America building, I’ve done some great deals with China. I do deals with them all the time on, you know, selling apartments, and, you know, people say ‘oh that’s not the same thing.’ The level of… uh, the largest bank in the world, 400 million customers, is a tenant of mine in New York, in Manhattan. The biggest bank in China. The biggest bank in the world.

China has got unbelievable ambitions. China feels very invincible. We have rebuilt China. They have drained so much money out of our country that they’ve rebuilt China. Without us, you wouldn’t see the airports and the roadways and the bridges; I mean, the George Washington Bridge is like, that’s like a trinket compared to the bridges that they’ve built in China. We don’t build anymore, and it, you know, we had our day. But China, if you look at what’s going on in China, you know, they go down to seven percent or eight percent and it’s like a national catastrophe. Our GDP is right now zero. Essentially zero.

That’s just one depressing choice quote from among so many there. The Washington Post appears to have dispensed with its paywall requirement (after a limited number of free articles) for this interview, perhaps considering its importance. So read and weep.

Mental Health Help for Republicans

WinMcNamee/Getty Images

My fellow Americans of the Republican persuasion,  you’ve recently found out that you suffer from an incurable, extremely aggressive metastatic cancer-like illness known as Drumpfosis, which is almost as deadly as cancer, in some respects at least. I want you to know that your panicked reaction, delayed as it is, is normal, in most ways.

What you are experiencing is grief over the loss of your hopes for remaking America according to your desires, and understandable fear and uncertainty about the future of your Grandiose Obstructionist Party. You’re still only concerned about yourselves; but your egocentric focus on your party, rather than the nation and world, does not really surprise.

You are suffering all the same, so, as a concerned citizen, mental health expert, and compassionate human being, I would like to help you  with this. Even though we may not cure your problem, we can make living with it somewhat bearable.

You may or may not remember — probably not, because this was likely part of that liberal education which you so despise — that human grief proceeds in five predictable stages:

1. Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.

You have passed this stage already, so congratulations. With every stage you’ve put behind you, you are closer to healing (such as it is) and reality (maybe).

Most of you, though not all, are ready to admit that Drumpfzilla, the pathological agent which causes Drumpfosis, is real and as tremendously virulent as it appears, if not more, with no vaccine or treatment available. Some of you are still in the substage of denial called stupefication, but that too shall pass, most definitely before the summer, as the warm weather and electoral process will enable a faster spread of Drumpfosis and firmly entrench it in the USian population.

2. Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.

Being a compassionate person, and a mental health expert, I know it is unfair and unhelpful to gloat and repeat We told you so!, so I won’t do that.

But it must be said that yeah, we told you so, and so many times that it became annoying. I’m just mentioning it to ground you in reality a bit more, the reality teaching us that if you act in destructive, reckless and irresponsible ways, there will be inevitable and predictable consequences.

You did not think that you could cheer on and support corporate greed and destruction, along with psychopathic selfishness and contempt for the weak disguised as a philosophy of self-reliance, with impunity, did you? Oh, you did? Well, you were wrong on that, like on so many other things.

As Inspiredbythedivine1 puts it:

When dogmatic religious conservatism, xenophobic paranoia, and hatred of the poor and disabled is at the forefront of your party’s message, you can’t be surprised that a Hitler has arisen from the depths to rule your party. 

So in case you want to know “who’s to blame?,” reaching for a mirror* would help. Lashing out at proximate individuals, your fellow humans of the liberal persuasion, will not, and will only make things worse.

Anyway. Many of you are ready for the next stage:

3. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for a better, Drumpfzilla-free future is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.

Yes, well — I don’t know how ready you are to embrace a reformed lifestyle… Heck, who am I kidding? You’re not ready, and likely never will be, since you do not want to accept responsibility for your destructive behavior.

No, you cannot avoid Drumpfzilla now. Sorry. Yeah, I know, it stinks. It really does, and not just for you, even though you don’t realize it. And, contrary to what you still believe, throwing money at the problem is not going to help. You may hope that your attempts to placate (ha) Drumpfzilla, or marginalize (he he), or paralyze it (gasp) via contested convention will be effective, but that’s only because you have not fully shed your denial yet. So go back to Stage 1 and stay there until November, when reality jolts you out of it whether you want it or not. Especially if not.

4. Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “Drumpfzilla’s rule is inevitable, so what’s the point?”  During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of Drumpfzilla’s semi-hostile — yet democratic and legal — takeover of his/her own party, the country, and possibly the world. And then the Universe, because its ambitions are huuge, limitless really. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse contact with the world, and spend much of the time sullen.

Frankly, I don’t know what to tell you here.  You may as well stay home during this election, I guess. Or vote for Hillary, the sanest Republican candidate this year. Or come on over, will have tea and cookies — why not, we may as well.

5. Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
In this last stage, individuals embrace Drumpfzilla’s rule as the inevitable future. Acceptance typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.

Yeah no, you won’t have any of that “retrospective view,” we know that. But I won’t hold it much against you should we end up together on a wooden bunk in a re-education / internment camp. I will even share my last potato with you. We bleeding heart libruls are like that, as you well know, ridiculing us for it so many times.

But maybe it won’t be that bad. We could take consolation in the fact that our re-education / internment camp will be the classiest, most amazing camp ever, with the Arbeit Macht Frei sign over the gate made of gold (the real thing, not just gold-plated). And as we slowly nibble on that potato to make it last longer, we can remind ourselves that this isn’t the end of the world, is it. Is it…?

*h/t Victoria

Looking into The Abyss

Updated with an editorial note, below.

(…) Trump pretty much represents the negation of everything I’ve argued about politics and ideology for the last 30 years. What he is attacking is not just “the establishment.” He is attacking a way of doing politics based on persuasion, consensus, compassion and inclusion. Those who argue that conservatism is fundamentally at odds with these values know nothing of conservatism. But Trump represents the confirmation of the worse conservative and Republican caricatures — a belief that cultural and religious minorities are threats, a belief that America should abandon its deepest values in the conduct of global affairs, a belief that the values and institutions of our government have failed, and that the times require a strong hand.

When Trump supporters say, in effect, “Tear it all down,” they are proposing to destroy things that I and others love about this country. At its best (and, God knows, it has not always been at its best) America shows a welcoming spirit, an example of how a great nation can be united by ideals instead of bloodlines, a place, as George Washington said, where “there shall be none to make him afraid.” We should love American traditions and institutions enough to repair them, not hand them over to an authoritarian wannabe, who is too ignorant to even understand the inheritance he is casting away.

Trump’s magical policy thinking, setting goals with no serious thought of how they might be achieved; his menacing encouragement of political violence; his disdain for ethnic and religious minorities, which has unleashed and emboldened racists and anti-Semites of every sort; his penchant for conspiracy theories, including a very dangerous vaccine denialism; his promises to conduct the war on terrorism by ordering war crimes, which would set up a constitutional crisis when the US military honorably refuses; his cynical manipulation of gullible religious leaders with tactics that border on blasphemy; his casual use of lies, which he defends even when exposed.

How does any of this return lost greatness to our nation? Sometimes I want to shake people (intellectually,not physically) who favor political “disruption” and ask: Disruption in favor of what? Look at what you are doing! Look at what you have done! The Republican Party is now firmly harnessed to the wild, uncontrollable horses of fear and exclusion. It has already sustained damage with Latino voters that may take a generation to undo. And now many Republicans will find rationalizations to support Trump. That is natural — the reality of politics in every time. Many people simply go with the winner. But this isn’t a normal time. I believe that the decision to support Trump, like an embarrassing tattoo, will follow them the rest of their lives. Republicans are not merely making a choice; they are looking into the abyss.

I also believe that men and women who opposed Trump with all the influence available to them — a political column, a primary vote, a serious, civil talk with a neighbor — will look back on this terrible time with some satisfaction. They will be able to tell their children they did all they could, at a time when it really mattered. Whatever the outcome, there is value in standing up — now, when it might still shape events — and saying: I am not reconciled to Donald Trump, and will never be.

At any rate, it seems that I have written another column on Trump, without intending it. But I hope you’ll read my column today and pass it around. I’ve written better things, but I don’t think the topic could be more important.

Michael Gerson, a conservative pundit and former speechwriter of George W. Bush

Update: As I’m rereading Gerson’s piece, with its spot on assessment of Drumpf and his supporters, I am tempted to ask him if he feels any responsibility for arguably the greatest humanitarian crisis in (modern) human history which he, as the Bush chief propagandist, helped unleash?

For the millions of deaths in the Iraq war and its aftermath? For the massive destruction and destabilization of the entire, already explosive, region? For ISIS, which grew from it? And, quite possibly, for Drumpf himself, whose political ambitions would not find a fertile ground if Americans were not gripped by fears — some justified, others not so much — created by the aftereffects of Bush’s illegal and immoral decisions?

So when he so proudly disavows his support for Drumpf, seeing in it a badge of honor, does it ever dawn on him that he is already complicit in — almost directly responsible for, in fact — this man’s rise to power, along with so much more misery?

He says:

I also believe that men and women who opposed Trump with all the influence available to them — a political column, a primary vote, a serious, civil talk with a neighbor — will look back on this terrible time with some satisfaction. They will be able to tell their children they did all they could, at a time when it really mattered. Whatever the outcome, there is value in standing up — now, when it might still shape events — and saying: I am not reconciled to Donald Trump, and will never be.

Let me point out that we, millions of us, opposed Bush with all the influence available to us in an effort, ultimately futile, to stop him from starting an illegal and immoral war of his choice. Yes, we did all we could, at a time when we thought it mattered. Where were you, Michael Gerson?

I don’t have to ask that, because we know.

I also know that he would never admit his responsibility in making the world a much worse place for most, and a real hell for others; and in creating this monstrosity which he now fearfully, but also self-righteously, opposes.

A conscience is a terrible thing to waste.

Don’t Be a Sucker

We interrupt our Drumpf Chronicling to bring our readers this important Public Service Announcement, courtesy of some prescient (or rather tragically well informed) folks from 70 years ago.

Quaint, but true, chillingly so. Please share widely.

Quote of The Day — or The Drumpf Chronicles, Part 2

Photo: Getty Images

When he flips to Fox News, Trump notices a caption that sums up everything: “News outlets around the world are covering Trump.” Turning to me on the sofa, he gestures at the screen with satisfaction, “The key word is covering.”

So much exposure comes at a price. As he watches, Trump maintains a quiet but constant critique of “dishonest” and “inaccurate” statements. He would like to “open up the laws” on libel to protect people like himself, he says — but adds with a shrug, “I don’t know exactly what it means to do that, or exactly how it works.” Nor does he care, because what matters more than accuracy is the sheer fact of being covered. Own the airwaves, own the campaign, run the world. To be certain that I’ve grasped this point, he expands on the theme:

“You see what this is, right? It’s ratings. I go on one of these shows and the ratings double. They triple. And that gives you power. It’s not the polls. It’s the ratings.”

From TIME piece “Donald Trump’s Wild Ride” by David Von Drehle; unfortunately, it is available to subscribers only.

Pay attention, dear readers, to the mental, emotional, and moral vacuity of our future Narcissistic Psychopath in Chief expressed in his words above.

Ratings is all that matters, in case this has not yet been clear. Substance, like facts and values — that’s for suckers.

He plans to subvert the nation’s laws — and curtail human rights, notably that to free speech — to protect his own overblown tender ego. Being uncurious and arrogant, unencumbered by guilt (or scruples, or even shame), he freely admits that he has no idea what it would mean to “open up the [libel] laws,” but he plans to do it because he, like the tremendous narcissist that he is, does not want to hear the truth about himself.

He is so invested in maintaining the false reality which he has created for the purposes of protecting his fragile ego, and which his authoritarian followers so eagerly and unquestioningly embrace, that he is willing to enshrine his delusions in and through this country’s laws.

One can only guess how he would deal with the foreign critics who would not be subject to those laws.


The Drumpf Chronicles will be an ongoing series on this blog, somewhat against my better judgment. Because apparently you can take a girl out of politics (or so she believed), but you cannot take politics out of the girl (as she’s learning). I thought we — OK, I — would be done with it as the Bush era was largely put behind us (yes, naive, I know); obviously, I was wrong. The problem of psychopathology and its impact on the world’s affairs, politics especially, is as urgent today, if not more, as ever.

I will refer to The Donald as (Herr) Drumpf, if only because his name sounds better in the original German.

Herr Drumpf’s rise to power, both in spite of and thanks to (though mostly the latter) his glaring psychological defect — the character disorder known as narcissistic psychopathy — is a lesson that we cannot afford to ignore, even though so many want to. So Drumpf Chronicles will attempt to hammer the lesson for those children who is not learning, with a full understanding of the futility of those efforts. But somebody’s gotta do it (for her own sake, if nothing else).

Quote(s) of The Day*

I’m speaking with myself, No. 1, because I have a very good brain. And I’ve said a lot of things. 

Herr Drumpf, on whose advice he seeks, or will, in matters of foreign affairs.

I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing many, many millions of people, in many cases first-time voters … If you disenfranchise those people? And you say, well, I’m sorry, you’re 100 votes short, even though the next one is 500 votes short? I think you’d have problems like you’ve never seen before. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things will happen.

Herr Drumpf, on what will happen if the GOP tries to block or interfere with his inevitable nomination.

Of course he is right. The Pandora Box does not close, by design, and its contents do not come with a return option.

Democratic process aside, pay attention, dear readers, to the threats and emotional blackmail they represent, for our future Narcissistic Psychopath in Chief is dispensing with the niceties and going straight to the crux of the matters:

Do not oppose me or there will be hell to pay.

NP’s rage reaches its apex when he is thwarted or rejected / abandoned. Like a controlling and abusive spouse (which he is), he’s warning you, America, of the inevitable consequences — for you — should you leave him. Being hostage to his whims and unpredictable emotions shall be your lot in life from now on — or else.

He would not lead that else, upstanding man that he is, but he just knows bad things will happen.

Remember, hell hath no fury like a narcissistic psychopath scorned. Don’t say you have not been warned.

P.S. As a, um, bonus, see The 15 Creepiest Trump Fan Tweets from Last Night on David Futrelle’s blog.

*Or maybe the century; time will tell.

Edited to add the second quote.

Narcissistic Psychopath in Chief

This is the edited version of an earlier post, the bulk of which went into writing The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Narcissist. I’ve taken it offline for a few weeks, but bring it back for the wonderful comments from my dear readers.

Psychopathy and narcissism (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to be exact) are two distinct character disorders*, although they have a lot in common. They predominate among men, for one, and they share, as a main symptom, an absent or severely compromised conscience.

The complete or near complete absence of conscience is a feature of psychopathy, while narcissists often some have rudimentary components of conscience in place, albeit demonstrated mostly for public consumption.

When the two pathologies converge, as in the case of narcissistic psychopaths (a category not included in DSM), it is a bad mix — not for the narcissistic psychopath (NP), but for everyone around him.

If we want to find out whether someone possesses a conscience, we must look for its evidence — in the form of empathy, guilt, and shame — in that person’s words and, more importantly, actions:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Narcissist

As the above (see link) essay attempts to demonstrate, NP’s character is a combination of egotistical ruthlessness and psychic fragility, driven by spite and primitive pursuits of power and adulation; impulsive in thought, speech, and action; manipulative, vindictive, unencumbered by scruples and self-reflection or any kind of conscience-based inhibitions.

Presidential material? You be the judge.

*Personality disorders are not mental illness, but ingrained character defects that permeate every facet of a person’s life without necessarily rendering him or her incapable of daily functioning. Mental illness (psychosis) comes and goes, and, depending on the severity of its symptoms, may incapacitate a person for stretches of time. But when not symptomatic (actively psychotic), a person suffering from a mental illness can feel, think, and function quite well. Character (personality) disorder, in contrast, is a permanent pathological pattern of a person’s functioning. This is the way he is.

A Word on Statistics




by Wislawa Szymborska


Out of every hundred people


those who always know better:



Unsure of every step:

nearly all the rest.


Ready to help,

as long as it doesn’t take long:



Always good,

because they cannot be otherwise:

four–well, maybe five.


Able to admire without envy:



Led to error

by youth (which passes):

sixty, plus or minus.


Those not to be messed with:

forty and four.


Living in constant fear

of someone or something:



Capable of happiness:

twenty-some-odd at most.


Harmless alone,

turning savage in crowds:

more than half, for sure.



when forced by circumstances:

it’s better not to know

not even approximately.


Wise in hindsight:

not many more

than wise in foresight.


Getting nothing out of life but things:


(although I would like to be wrong).


Doubled over in pain,

without a flashlight in the dark:


sooner or later.


Those who are just:

quite a few at thirty-five.


But if it takes effort to understand:



Worthy of empathy:




one hundred out of one hundred–

a figure that has never varied yet.


trans. from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak