I have a psychologist friend who once told me that she will not treat a narcissist. Specifically, she will “refer out” a patient suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). She gave me the clinical reason first. They are a waste of time. When the NPD enters therapy he or she does so, not with the intent of becoming a better person, but as a game, with the goal of beating the therapist and “proving they [the narcissist] are the smartest person in the room.” For the narcissist, therapy isn’t a journey, it’s a zero sum game in which they must always be the winner.
Then she gave the non-clinical reason: “I dislike them. If it can be said there is a kind of person I hate on sight then it’s the NPD. I have nothing to say to them except, ‘Goodbye.’”
NPD may be how psychology defines evil. A principal feature of the NPD is that they do not consider themselves to have a mental health problem. In other words, they’re not the problem, you are. The NPD finds a way to blame others for their problems. A natural consequence of this point of view is a phenomenon known as “gaslighting.” Wikipedia defines gaslighting this way:
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes such as low self-esteem.
Since about 1% of the population is NPD, chances are fairly good that you have met one. If you’ve been particularly unlucky, as I have been, then an NPD has exercised significant influence over your life. In that way the people of the United States of America have been particularly unlucky these days. The president is a narcissist, and We the People are subjected to daily gaslighting, compliments of Donald Trump.
If only the press in particular and We the People in general had known NPDs the way my therapist friend does, we might have saved ourselves a lot of trouble. For one, Trump would have never been elected in the first place. The voters would have “referred him out.” For another, the members of the press might have skipped the part back in 2017 where they were racing each other to report the moment in time in which Donald Trump had “finally become presidential.” That day was never going to hapoen. Narcissists don’t get better.
A recent example of narcissistic gaslighting from Trump came after he recommended injecting disinfectant as a possible “cure” for coronavirus. Trump gaslighted the American people the very next day by insisting he was addressing a reporter “sarcastically,” that he didn’t mean it literally. This despite the fact that we have video proof of Trump directly addressing the question to Dr. Deborah Birx in a distinctly non-sarcastic way. The implication is that anyone who didn’t “get it,” that Trump was being sarcastic, that he didn’t mean it literally, must be stupid. That is how the narcissist gaslights.
A mistake often made by victims of the narcissist is they believe that they can bring the narcissist to see reason. This creates in the victim a tendency to concede minor points in order to make a major one. It might come in the form of the victim saying, for example, “Okay, I concede you were not trying to be deliberately cruel by your remarks, but can you understand how you might have been accidentally cruel?” These concessions, made a little bit at a time, are seized upon by the narcissist and used against the victim as weapons. The narcissist may later say something like, “What do you mean by that? You said it yourself once, that I’m not cruel. Were you lying?” Trump frequently uses small concessions or retractions or admissions of error made by the press as weapons against them.
Narcissists never admit they are wrong and Trump is no exception. What’s more, Trump has trained people who work for him to become extremely reluctant to admit when Trump has made a mistake. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci has fallen reluctant but inevitable victim to Trump’s bullying in this way.
Trump’s daily press conferences are explicit exercises in narcissism, gaslighting and cruelty. Trump never does anything that he doesn’t want to do and these daily “briefings” are a case in point. They are extremely dangerous and it is to the shame of the American press that they are still being broadcast.
Several people have died as a direct consequence of these briefings. For example, an Arizona couple recently drank chloroquine phosphate, a fish tank cleaner, because Trump recommended hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for coronavirus. The man died as a result and his wife remains critical in intensive care. Spikes in coronavirus deaths have come as a direct result of Trump encouraging people to congregate in churches. These deaths have no meaning for Trump because, as a narcissist, they are automatically not his fault and not his responsibility.
This is why we must unite to get Donald Trump out of office. Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic may have already done irreparable harm to America’s prestige and standing as a legitimate first world power. Tens of thousands of deaths are directly traceable to Trump. Far worse than that, if Trump is left in office another four years, millions of Americans may die needlessly. Trump must go and there is only one force on earth that can make him go, that’s you and me, the American voter. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.