Superficiality and Strategy
When people with a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia are evidencing hallucinations or delusions, we subsume that behavior under their disorder. If they are hearing voices, we recognize them as auditory hallucinations. If they believe the FBI is monitoring their thoughts, we recognize this as a delusion. If they are seeing small aliens walking across the dinner table, we understand that it is likely a visual hallucination.
What we don’t do is spend time spinning their behavior into something else. It is accepted as part of the disorder, treatment is given, and typically the symptoms abate and are managed.
So let me ask WHY. Why is every political pundit on the planet gussying up and parading on CNN, and MSNBC and FOX and everywhere else reflecting on and opining about and deciphering Trump’s behavior. This so simple and yet the political “de-coders” keep spinning it as “strategy.” Why is everyone so damned uncomfortable with the N word?
Trump is a perfect narcissist. By definition, narcissists are grandiose which makes then entertaining. You would never want to be in a relationship with one or work with one – but yes, they are entertaining. Why do these political pundits keep framing his ignorant and narcissistic behavior as strategy, and gleefully guessing his next move as though he is UNPREDICTABLE? He may be the most predictable man on the planet.
So why are the pundits having such a tough time getting their head around Trump’s narcissism? Is it because we take away their punch line when we boil it down to the simplest explanation – he appears to be a full blown narcissist and he is never going to change? This week he went after Carson’s medical training and spiritual core and Fiorina’s looks, in the past it was all Mexican immigrants, and now he is focusing on his entertainment value. Just like at a sideshow, I look forward to next week’s gruesome insults, it’s sort of fun to see how horrifying this can get. He’s a street fighter (or perhaps he is more of a street entertainer), and in a world of internet insults, he is the mascot of mean. Or simply the patron saint of narcissism.
Trump has nearly every characteristic of a disorder which is clearly delineated in the DSM-5 (many of us in the field argue about whether a dysfunctional personality style should be deemed a disorder, but these are conversations for another day). It just happens to be a disorder that our soulless capitalist engines reward, but that doesn’t make it ok. And just as we would not wonder if a person with schizophrenia is being strategic about having religious delusions in hope of winning the evangelical vote, don’t talk about Trump’ s insults, entitlement, bullying, grandiosity, and superficiality as strategy. Don’t give Trump and his symptomatology so much credit. Any psychologist worth her salt can predict his next move. Perhaps the political analysts would like to sign up for my undergraduate Psychology 310/Abnormal Psychology class with me (class begins September 24, there is a wait list – but we can manage to squeeze you in) – they will then realize that this is superficial child’s play, street theater, playground antics, and predictable psychiatric symptomatology, not high level political tactics.
In the meaner, more ignorant America that evolves one Kim Davis at a time – he has a shot at winning this election. Betting on Trump to engage in a below the belt ad hominem attack of his competitors and of anyone who is not like him, is like betting on Secretariat to win a country fair horse race. Plan on it. It’s not strategy, it’s in his DNA.
And, yes, sadly, it is entertaining.
Pass the popcorn.
Tags: Narcissism, Politics, presidential campaign, Republican