Til Death Do Us Part………
It’s the morning after Super Tuesday, and I feel vindicated.
Most people and students I know told me “you are ridiculous, stop saying Trump is a contender.” They would assert that he is flash in the pan, a short-lived reality series of sorts. “We know you are trying to sell a book on narcissism Ramani, but maybe you just don’t understand people – the American people will see him for what he is, he’s an entertaining buffoon, nothing more….” I didn’t and don’t agree – we have changed as a culture, and Mr. Trump is the symptom AND the disease.
Bottom line, this is a relationship issue. America, we are about to get into a relationship with a narcissist, and I can GUARANTEE you, like all relationships with narcissists – it is not going to end well. Narcissists tend to do well in the courtship phase (much like a primary race), say what you will about Trump – while he is a bully, a blowhard, and a buffoon, he also possesses the “seductive” traits of narcissism – charisma, passionate, visionary – and narcissists are masterfully skilled in drawing in partners, but typically neglect them once they have them. They will put on the full court press to win a partner over, but once they have you, expect rage alternating with coldness, chronic disappointment, and living in a state of self-doubt. The prevalence of pathological narcissism in the population has never been accurately documented, my spitball guess is that it sits somewhere around 10-25% depending on geography. Inside the beltway it is likely 50% (and of course in Hollywood it is probably 80%), and Trump brings a brand of narcissism that is bigger and bolder than the usual political windbag. I am not so naïve as to label Trump the only narcissist in this race, he is just the showiest – and in some ways the most dangerous because he is giving permission and voice to the most divisive rhetoric.
If we elect a pathological narcissist, we are headed for the landscape of a narcissistic relationship and all of its disappointing fallout. By and large narcissistic relationships always follow a similar roadmap. Excitement, entertainment, seduction, promise of a bright new future, followed by disappointment, dashed expectations, desolation and abuse. It’s fun when it’s fun, but once the courtship is over, expect a world of pain.
This isn’t just about building walls, racist rants, schoolyard insults, and grandstanding. This is about a long-term committed relationship (4 years is long in the post-Tinder world). The red flags are there, we are choosing to ignore them.
America loves narcissists – that is clear. We have dutifully tuned into Survivor and Housewives for years. Trump himself is a reality star. We love a mindless circus. Trump is going to keep going, and as long as we are subsisting on a steady diet of inanity and billionaire worship, he may be the only show in town. Just like too many people choose bad partners because they enjoyed the excitement of courtship, we are about to make the same mistake. It never ends well.
I hope the American people prove me wrong. Just like a narcissistic seduction, vindication only feels good for a minute.
(Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a Professor of Psychology, clinical psychologist and author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist)
Tags: Narcissism, Primary, Relationships, Trump