How Drumpf’s disease looks like media savvy, even to the savvy media
On September 10th 2016, Andrew O’Hehir wrote on Salon.com, “ . . . Trump is a media creature, who came to the 2016 race as a prefabricated personality, molded by years of reality TV, gossip shows, the business press and the New York tabloids. . . he understands the media, at least in its mass-consumption mode: He understands its cynical cast of mind and its widespread contempt for the public. He understands its ingrained belief that American cultural and political life is a symbolic spectacle with little reference to the real world. He understands its obsession with itself, a quality he shares.”
This is untrue. Trump is none of that, though he does take the shape of someone who is.
I was the psychological crutch to a man for six years who suffered from personality disorders; his were Borderline and Histrionic, Trump’s is Narcissistic, all of these Cluster B disorders. I’ve read some exceedingly heavy textbooks on the question – I have proof: I know what splanchnic enervation is! – according to which there is an interruption in development of the ego structure at 18 months, and the damaged personality develops one or more stereotypical patterns of response to events and people in its environment in lieu of a self-consistent, internally maintained personality.
I was forced to such depth of specialized knowledge that that last sentence was ex tempore, not an assessment I found somewhere. And now my brain hurts.
Point is, one might say the individual becomes a set of practiced programs rather than a real person able to deal spontaneously with its surroundings, like a boneless mass needing others to hold it upright, to give it shape.
There are patterns commonly seen in both Personality Disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disease, which is part of the reason that PD is being subsumed into PTSD among many psychologists. One dominant trait of both is a ‘constant scanning of the environment for threat or opportunity.’ Because a PD cannot ever be spontaneous but is forced by his deep dis-ease to work furiously hard to manipulate and control his environment – any action or personality not so controlled is a source of threat – that PD person is always at work, never relaxed. Great energy is put into a constant, unending scanning of his setting for any opposition and any chance to gain advantage; in the case of a Narcissistic PD, the search for threat is also a non-stop seeking for praise.
The goal for a Narcissist is maintaining everyone’s focus on himself. ‘Threat’ is therefore anything that might break this; any authority figure too powerful for emasculation, a larger personality than his own, any challenge that may stop him from being central and controlling. Any disagreement with his assertions is a threat, and will be attacked as such. No opportunity for glory, regardless of cost, is to be passed up.
It takes an incredible amount of energy to constantly scan your surroundings for any slight clue of threat or opportunity. He watches everyone around him and is always picking up any available indication in the expressions around him; I have seen this being done by my friend, and the furious work it takes would exhaust any normal person.
Like any other skill a developing personality desperately depends on, it is honed and polished to perfection. Trump has become, all unawares, a brilliant performer at it, instantly seeing and reacting to clues others don’t notice. But like an idiot-savant, there is no intelligence, no conscious knowledge involved. If he had had to swim to survive, he would have become – well, Ryan Lochte seems a remarkably appropriate comparison – without a day of training or understanding a word of technique.
That’s all you are seeing. It’s an innate talent that has been honed for seventy years, and stands in place of a personality; absolutely none of it is based on any kind of thoughtful insight or skill. Might as well credit a gifted outfielder with great accomplishments in the field of flight dynamics. Trump has a desperate need to rapidly evaluate social systems around him, but the process is to him all unawares, an entirely subjective unconscious skill made out of desperate need.
It not only requires no understanding; he couldn’t adopt a ‘cynical’ or any other ‘cast of mind’ if his life depended on it – and such is the desperation of his situation, his life does depend on these compelled, involuntary reactions he has no longer any choice in. He’s locked in. It happens, as we’ve seen repeatedly, whether he would have it happen or not.
This might seem harsh and judgmental. It is said, though, with pain. A PD or PTSD mind is an unbelievable burden; such a life is filled with a kind of fear that we can hardly picture. Imagine this; you’re with friends, having a good time, when somebody teasingly makes a cutting remark, maybe as a joke. You might feel a bit of stress at that; but you know a joke when you hear it, so if it happened at all this small surge of adrenalin passes easily. It might even, if it was a good joke, add to your pleasure.
Now imagine what happens if you are a Narcissist. You hear the joke, recognize you are the butt of it –
And that feels to the sufferer exactly how you would feel if, suddenly without warning, you are standing on one square foot of space atop a tall pillar above a vast chasm, no sign of safety anywhere. Imagine for a moment how that would feel, how terrified you would be, how disoriented. If that had actually happened to you, you would have crapped your pants in the overwhelming flood of adrenalin that would ensue.
That’s what happens to the personality disordered. If that could happen to you at any moment, without warning, you too would constantly be on guard against the unexpected and uncontrolled. PD’s are thus un-self-aware experts at manipulation; they themselves very rarely have any control over these control mechanisms they so depend on. They feel a fear as part of their everyday experiences that equals in its mind-destroying terror anything we can imagine.
I saw this in action. I could feel my friend’s intense fear; I saw him dissociate, a condition in which the fear has become so acute that the brain breaks down and the body becomes unguided, an automaton without awareness of anything around it. I’ve seen some bad thing in my life, held people together through awful times. I’ve never seen anything like a PD in dissociation. Horrible. Beyond my ability to describe, horrible.
That’s what happens to Trump in exegis; and it happens with no warning.
So when I say that Donald Trump is one such, I say it with sorrow and pity. But when I see commentary like this – the ridiculous attempt to pass off The Donald’s compelled, unreflective behaviors as some evidence of media mastery –
Wrong. That’s just a puff piece, uninformed and dangerous. Donald Trump has no more ‘expertise’ at media than he does at Wrasslin’, running a casino or being President.
Want evidence? Look at how easily, how effortlessly, how successfully the Clinton campaign is trolling him. It’s a form of abuse of the disabled; he can’t help it. It’s sad, it’s pitiful, it’s not really his fault –
But it is – it must be – disqualifying.
From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition
These are the characteristics of what I (and many others) consider as evidence of an emotional disability as exhibited by certain Orangutans currently in politics.
A warning, first. This is from a manual for professionals. My thinking that these describe someone’s personality is of no analytical importance, nor is yours, because we are not professionals; because this diagnosis can only be made by a professional who has studied the sufferer – believe me, as much as he’s making us suffer, it is as nothing to the pain and fear he feels every moment – in a clinical situation. Since permanence of aspect is important, this diagnosis would be made over a course of interviews; and it would be unethical for said psychiatrist to share his conclusions with the public without the subject’s permission and if the doctor thought the revelation was appropriate to the subject’s health and growth. Until and unless such happens, it is unethical for anyone to label Trump or anyone else as having this or any other illness.
Also understand this is not some magazine list – “12 Ways to Know if your Partner is Faithful!” – but a serious set of observations about people whose lives are often miserable and whose friends and family are made miserable as well. Professionals would insist that before any of these criteria can be considered as part of a diagnosis, they must be clear and unmistakable, the best possible descriptions of actual traits that cause real problems, and that they are permanent, stable behaviors.
Consider, for example, number 6 below: Takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. Well, don’t you, at times? Don’t I? Which of us is so distant from other humans that that can’t be said sometimes of us? The question, though, is whether that’s always true of you, that it’s a permanent part of who you are and how you deal with others; a trait that is always there, that people see and experience clearly and consistently, and most particularly a trait that hobbles and limits your relations to others.
So I urge caution; still, it’s important for people to understand them; this child clothed in maladaptions could be our President. I’m no professional; so here’s what Very Heavy Textbooks have to say. (I promise – no splanchnic enervation. Just so you know, though; that’s how pros say “butterflies in the stomach.”)
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition
Narcissistic Personality Disorder criteria
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is ‘special’ and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlements, i.e.,unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
You make up your own mind. By my count, he’s 9 for 9. One more observation, though, from a different analysis; NPD’s are not subject to guilt, so trying to make them take responsibility for things they’ve done is useless. But they are strongly motivated to avoid shame; shame and embarrassment undo him, and shape his goals.
Why is he running? Go to Youtube and watch our President humiliate him at that Corespondent’s Dinner.