Why We Date and Elect Narcissists
Since President Trump can’t help from proving he’s a narcissist, I thought that I would write about the relationship between a narcissist and victim…and narcissist and country. (Here’s an example speech on black history month where he makes it about himself.)
Great books have been written about understanding the cycle that a victim goes through when dating an abusive narcissist. The first phase is idealization where the narcissist woos the target with incredible attention and praise. Next, the person is degraded, then discarded, then sucked back into an idealization period. These four phases often mean little to someone unless they have actually been in some kind of abusive relationship–whether its family members or a lover. The dopamine rush from idealization then being put down and discarded then idealization again becomes an addiction in the same way gambling or alcohol are addictive. Victims come to know “love” as both the excitement that comes from being idealized AND the pain of being treated poorly. This kind of love requires the use of cognitive dissonance, where the victim has to choose between the good and bad parts of the relationship to make sense of everything in their brain, and they choose to remember and fixate on the good parts and deny the bad.
What happens as a citizen (and country) when I have a president as a narcissist? If I see the put down and discard phases first and feel anger, the anger prevents me from experiencing the alluring idealization half of the cycle that keeps other citizens locked in to their political “love.” This “love” will be so intense that the citizens will fixate on the good parts of Trump and deny the bad.
As Trump’s presidency began I remained hopeful that he might make some changes in Washington that regular politicians with a long track record in office would never make. Sadly, it was his executive order that banned travel for people from the majority-Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen that “burst my bubble” of optimism and opened my eyes to the true nature of his narcissism. Now I am having genuine fear about these next four years. Let me explain.
Trump is such a narcissist that he did not bother making up a pretend reason in the external world for the ban, (more crafty, non-narcissist politicians would at least make some smoke and mirrors to justify the racist action). What his action showed me is that he will do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to the extent of the power that he has, to do what he decides is best for our country. The problem is he’s a narcissist, meaning there are abnormalities in the area of his brain where there’s compassion, (whereas a person with anti-social personality disorder would have abnormalities in the brain where moral reasoning occurs). This means he doesn’t experience empathy for people (or for a country) in a way that is healthy, normal, or average, so him choosing what’s best for “us” is problematic.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article Trump’s behavior (see other articles) clearly shows signs of narcissism. One small example is the videos comparing how Trump related to his wife verses Obama. Seeing and treating people as objects is normal for a narcissist, again this behavior is a reflection of the low level of empathy they experience. Also, narcissists tend to feel envy and rage strongly whereas other emotions are like pale versions of what someone with normal mental health experiences. So whether or not you believe me, try reading more on narcissists and watching Trump’s behavior. The fact that he was so disturbed by the lower number of people attending his inauguration is another example. This experience probably caused him to feel envy and possibly rage which are those emotions that he does feel, so he commented and fixated on it. An average person might be confused as to why Trump decides that certain seemingly obscure aspects of his day become the focus of his attention but ask yourself next time, “Did what he’s focusing his attention on right now trigger envy or rage in him?” If the answer is yes, you’ll have a tiny bit of understanding about why he does what he does.
You might be wondering “Why does the fact that our 45th President of the United States has some narcissistic tendencies matter?” I want to be clear that having a personality disorder (PD) is an enduring pattern of behavior, (as I discuss in Chapter 5 of my new book). A person with a PD won’t make sense in their reasoning at times and in their ability to clearly communicate their thoughts and ideas. (They might have disorganized thinking and be unable to articulate their thoughts inside their head, another reason they can’t do it to the outside world.) If someone has a PD, it’s important to evaluate their power and reach because essentially they could make unclear decisions that affect hundreds or millions, or in Trump’s case, billions of people.
America needs to understand the abuse cycle and give more sympathy and understanding to abuse victims, the dopamine rush and addiction to the cycle is a real phenomenon. Unfortunately, I believe as a country we have so many people living with cognitive dissonance that what is in the best interest for all of us cannot be seen or talked about from this lack of clear seeing.
I wanted to mention that in reviewing research on what causes an abuse victim to stop the addicted cycle, the discard usually has to be really, really bad to wake the person up from their cognitive dissonance. See writings on Stockholm Syndrome as examples, even with terrible abuse the relationship can continue.
I’m not saying that we need to agree on everything in this country, I’m writing this article in hopes that we can grow in our self-understanding and in our ability to effectively screen people. Based on my screening abilities as a psychotherapist, Trump has serious red flags. To be clear, he doesn’t have narcissistic tendencies but rather a personality disorder whose resulting deficiencies in mental health could lead to dire consequences for this country.
–Heidi Crockett LCSW. CMC, CSE, AASSECT-certified
Licensed Psychotherapist and Dating Coach