*** Re-posted from 9/7/17 ***
So here we are. We’ve just watched a man who, off teleprompter, defended and rationalized people among the various hate groups in Charlottesville as “very fine people,” and passionately equivocated “their side” with the hate group protesters. He is also the same person who attacked the London mayor, just as the blood of terrorists’ victims was being washed off London Bridge. This week, he did a complete 180 degree flip-flop on his Afghanistan position, for which he incessantly mocked Washington officials as “very stupid” for doing what he now says is appropriate. This most-recent flip-flop highlights Trump’s ability to use his charisma and salesmanship to whip people into a frenzy, on grounds for which he has absolutely no sincerity. The list of flip-flops, blatant lies, and erratic and reckless behavior goes on and on, and continued to grow at this week’s rally in Phoenix.
It has been just over a year since the original post in the “DONALD TRUMP PHENOMENON” series was published (“The biggest story in politics that no one is talking about”), and I continue to maintain that a disturbing common denominator collectively explains all of Trump’s behavior – Donald Trump appears to be an undiagnosed narcissistic sociopath.
No. This proposition is not a diagnosis. I am not a doctor, nor would I attempt to diagnose anyone. I am merely pointing out that this man unfailingly and collectively behaves in a manner experts warn is consistent with a sociopath.
If one studies experts’ and victims’ writings about sociopaths, manipulative and dangerous people, psychopathic leaders, and/or people with anti-social personality disorders, some basic personality traits are consistently cited as red-flags:
- Extreme narcissism (perhaps the biggest red flag)
- Grandiosity and self-magnification
- Excessive sense of entitlement
- High charisma and charm
- Excessive need for attention and admiration
- Lack of impulse-control
- Non-conformity to social norms or rules
- Intense personality, often marked by anger
- Obsession with “winning”
- Crude sense of entertainment by drawing reactions from others
- Perception of never being wrong
- Extreme difficulty admitting to being wrong, accepting responsibility for it, or apologizing
- Use of brilliant, yet perplexingly incoherent bail-out excuses (e.g., “Dems have no one who can change tones,” I pardoned during the Harvey because “I assumed the ratings would be higher.”)
- Inability to accept criticism (evidenced by impulsive, irrational and often rage-filled attacks)
- Delegitimization of sources of criticism (e.g., “fake news media”)
- Lack of empathy (perhaps the other major red flag) (e.g., London mayor incident)
- No or few real, close or long-term friends, but “loyal followers” who tend to cluster
- Blatant habitual lying – even when there is no personal gain (a.k.a., pathological lying) – gaslighting, sensationalism and conspiracy theory perpetuation
- Paranoia and playing the victim (the media is out to get me, everyone’s being unfair to me, illegal voting cost me the popular win, etc…)
- Frequent use of projection (“lobbing the same charges at opponents” as a deflection strategy)
- Lengthy trail of self-contradiction, significant flip-flopping, and lack of long-term value-compass (especially when audiences differ)
Is this not the sum of Donald Trump’s personality? Is this not consistent with traits experts point out to warn of people with dangerous personality disorders? At what point does the congress and media question this situation more seriously as a potential national security issue that may be related to Trump’s mental status?
If Trump is a sociopath, or something similar, people need to understand the potential danger involved with the country being run by a person devoid of conscience (marked by lack of empathy, guilt, shame and remorse), and an addiction to manipulating others to feel dominant. Some will reasonably argue that sociopathic traits are common among this politician or that politician, but Trump’s collective behavior in this capacity is both unparalleled, and orders of magnitude above and beyond his peers.
The whole point is that a high-functioning sociopath will engage in whatever Machiavellian behavior necessary to manipulate others to feed or defend his (or her) fragile ego. That is the driving force for his behavior, and his ambitions, holding office, business dealings, and trophied people/places/things, are simply enabling side-shows. He has no issue lying and manipulating his way to more and more, because he simply has too little (or no) sense of conscience to regulate aggression, or be anxious about lack of sincerity.
None of a sociopath’s convictions should be counted on as honest. The game is solely based on a demented compulsion to manipulate others to feel “bigger and badder” than anyone and everything. Any story will do, there will be no shame in using anything as a pawn, and any interference will be impulsively attacked. He has the psychological apparatus to pick and choose the right audience(s) to con through “charming,” and come across as fully-sincere all along the way. The combination of charisma, strong personality and the ability to masterfully feign authenticity attracts “followers” (in a cult-like way) who perceive the sociopath to be a caring, take-no-prisoners tell-it-like-it is kind of leader, who will get stuff done.
As a politician, such a person could manipulate the entire tax system to save personal money, send other peoples’ children into battle to raise his own poll numbers, or run for office to attack a perceived “enemy” rather than to serve the public. It would be more important to give to charity to be seen as generous, rather than for generosity’s sake. He could keep a few token individuals close, not because he relates to them, but for strategic value.
He will not sincerely apologize or admit to being wrong, but will infrequently shed some crocodile tears if it will get him out of trouble or to the next step (such as Trump’s follow-up speeches to Charlottesville). Lack of conscience allows him to tell lies with convincing confidence, and act in an alpha-male-like manner that causes our hunter-gatherer brains to gravitate toward decisive and aggressive leadership.
All proclamations and salesmanship from such a person should be suspected as a manipulative play for self-gain. The clues to the con lie within the lengthy trail of inconsistencies, but people fail to connect the dots because they do not have knowledge of or exposure to the nature of sociopaths.
So that’s where this blog comes in.
After experiencing some issues with a neighbor having a sociopathic personality, among many other resources, I read The Sociopath Next Door for help. It’s a book by leading Harvard psychologist, Dr. Martha Stout, and put me in a better position to understand and manage what was going on with this person’s odd behavior. Her book was written in 2005 to educate and warn us regular folk about these people, and contains descriptions that align so closely with Donald Trump’s behavior, that the situation becomes truly startling to ponder. Don’t believe me? Listen to the first chapter here.
If you have not read my original post (dated 7/14/16), I invite you do so. It offers one perspective for us regular folk to process the oddities around people exhibiting behavior described as “sociopathic,” including Donald Trump. It contains a dialogue around questions like: “How can sociopaths achieve such popularity and success if they are so precarious?”, “How do they fly under the radar?”, and “What are the top 10 professions that attract sociopaths?” It may even give you a perspective about someone you may be having trouble with in your family, work or social circle, since all of us are likely to deal with sociopathic personalities from time to time.
Learning how to spot them could prove to be valuable for anyone. The sociopath will eventually leave (or get caught), and there will be great damage in the wake. Any person, group or society that gets hurt along the way is simply collateral damage, and upfront knowledge about these people can help avoid it.
Finally, after Phoenix, the topic du jour has once again become focused on Trump’s fitness for office. It seems, however, that the explanation for his cult of personality may be much more succinct than the pundits tend to discuss. The common denominator for the preponderance of his behavior aligns both in breadth and depth with commonly described red-flags that signal sociopaths. No matter what conditions laid the groundwork for his election, my strong speculation is that we have elected a narcissistic sociopath as President, and are seeing him behave as one on a daily basis.
What do you think?
Author: B. Ashley
Copyrighted Opinion-based Material