We are Donald Trump’s enablers, and it’s time for an intervention

We are Donald Trump’s enablers, and it’s time for an intervention

According to Greek legend, a young man was so fascinated, awestruck, and enraptured by his own image reflected on the surface of a pool that he sat lovingly gazing at water’s edge for so long that he succumbed to his own vanity and eventually transformed into a flower that carries his name, “Narcissus.”

The American Psychiatric Association, in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual II (DSM) from 1968 lists “Narcissism” as an emotional problem and “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD) with a number of characteristics. These include

• An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges

• Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships

• A lack of psychological awareness

• Difficulty with empathy

• Problems distinguishing the self from others (having bad interpersonal boundaries)

• Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults

• Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt

• Haughty body language

• Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them

• Detesting those who do not admire them

• Using other people without considering the costs of doing so

• Pretending to be more important than they actually are

• Bragging and exaggerating their achievements

• Claiming to be an “expert” at many things

• Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people

• Denial of remorse and gratitude

In summary, this condition results in the over-inflation of one’s self-importance.

One does not have to have earned a Ph.D. in psychology to identify Donald Trump as someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder since he clearly manifests many, if not all, of its symptoms. While he definitely has not transformed into a beautiful fragrant flower as did the character in the Greek legend, we nonetheless have to ask some critical questions, which include:

How did Trump, as someone who may suffer from a serious emotional character disorder, garner so much support from the electorate to have vanquished 16 other candidates to win the mantle of the Republican Party for the presidency of the United States?

Does Trump’s meteoric ascendancy reflect a sort of collective Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the larger U.S. body politic?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder falls within the overall category of “sociopathology,” in which a person’s antisocial behavior demonstrates a lack of a sense of moral concern or responsibility or a deficit of social conscience. The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM classifies this condition as “Antisocial Personality Disorder” (APD), which it defines as “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”

On a macro level, from Colonial times through the Revolutionary War and beyond, whose rights were considered important and included in the founding documents of the United States, and which groups of people were disregarded or not even considered?

And after so many years, have these violations been corrected at all?

Did any of the leading Republican primary candidates or the person (Trump) who went on to win, specifically identify and target any group or groups to disregard and violate their rights? And if so, did this candidate or candidates gain traction in terms of the vote count by employing this tactic?

While in ancient Greece and Rome, a “demagogue” originally referred to a leader or orator who advocated for and championed the common people, the term has since come to represent a politician who, rather than employing rational arguments, appeals instead to peoples’ fears and prejudices for their own political ends.

While Trump operates clearly as a demagogue, during any era, narcissistic and other types of sociopaths use demagoguery to achieve political ends. Would this resonate as it has if a significant segment of the country had not suffered from a sort of collective narcissistic nationalistic disorder itself?

Trump has appealed to a nationalist strain in the United States, an “America first,” “we are the best and last great hope for the world,” “a shining city on a hill,” “a beacon of freedom, liberty, and hope to the entire world,” because we are an “exceptional nation.”

Nationalism emphasizes excessive and aggressive jingoism or chauvinism, an attitude of infallibility and dominance. This notion of “American exceptionalism” (also read “American superiority”), this mantra drilled into us as soon as we exit the womb, does it not reflect a narcissistic psyche on a national scale?

The Church convicted physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei on the charge of heresy for insisting that the Earth revolves around the Sun, rather than, as per Church teaching, that the Earth was the immovable center of the universe with the Sun revolving around the Earth. The Church forced Galileo to spend the remainder of his life into the 16th century under house arrest. Ultimately, the Church saw the error of its teaching.

The concept of “American exceptionalism” attempts to position the United States as the immovable center of the planet with all other countries revolving around us. While the United States can be seen as a great country with strengths and weaknesses, so too can many other countries around the globe.

Review the symptoms for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but this time see whether these apply as well to the personality or the psyche of the U.S. body politic.

This collective attitude of “exceptionalism,” though, separates our country and our residents from people of other nations by giving us the image of the “arrogant Americans,” which often engenders ridicule and scorn around the world.

At this point in time, with Donald Trump’s severe and obvious character disorder, we need to implore his family, his party officials, and we the people of the United States to undertake an intervention to convince him to suspend his disaster of a campaign. We as a nation must stop serving as his enablers.

The current election season gives us as individuals and as a nation the opportunity to stop and reflect about the original sin on which this country was founded: racism. And it allows, especially white people, to look at how we have come to embody a sort of collective narcissism.

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