On 20th January 2017, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America.
Various people have expressed their opinion that President Trump is a narcissist. This article is not going to be a detailed piece about whether he is or not. That is unnecessary and frankly, adds little to understanding. President Trump is one of our kind. That is apparent but hardly remarkable.
All US Presidents have been shown to either have been narcissists or have strong narcissistic traits. Indeed, some of the most successful and popular US Presidents have been clear narcissists, exhibiting significant charisma, magnetism and grandiosity. This includes Lyndon Johnson, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, JFK, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
This is not limited to the US. Wade through history, both recent and distant and leader after leader of countries, empires and dynasties can be shown to be narcissists. Other traits such as psychopathy and Machiavellianism are prevalent. In order to get to the top and rule a country one must have an unshakeable belief in oneself, to know what one is doing is right, to be unconcerned by offending feelings, to be driven, have a strong sense of self-preservation, manipulate, charm and inspire. Average will not cut it. Being an everyman will not get you there. Our kind do get there. Repeatedly.
It is therefore not a surprise at all that President Trump is one of our kind. What perhaps is surprising to some is that it is so obvious. Indeed, it almost at times appears like a caricature of narcissism since for someone so successful there is little or no credence given to the maintenance of the facade for which successful narcissists are infamous. The facade is there but with President Trump it manifests in a different manner.
If you think that this is going to be an article bashing or lauding The Donald then prepare to be disappointed. Go to your relevant echo chamber if you want to read about that. This article is to add the perspective of what can be expected from President Trump as viewed by one of his own. Naturally dependent on your perspective, you may regard it as good, bad or some of each, but it is a detailed observation about what to expect, from one who knows his own kind.
- He will get things done because he and the country are one.
Why is this? Donald Trump wants the USA to be great again. He campaigned on such a slogan. He wants this because then the United States of Donald Trump will be even greater. The US is an extension of President Trump. In common with our kind, he does not want to be controlled by his environment; he wants to control it. He regards the country and its people as an extension of him and he exerts the ultimate authority over it all. He wants that country to thrive because that means he will thrive through the production of all of the fuel that will come his way.
Like any leader he will face opposition to his plans. President Trump campaigned on building a wall between the US and Mexico. It may not turn out to be concrete all the way along, it will not be some Great Wall of America, but there will be a barrier. Why? Because that is his monument. He wants to create a monument to himself. This edifice which is the ultimate symbol of control. A wall, a fence, a barrier says “You can come in, but not you.” It says “I am going to protect you on this side and stop you on that side.” By creating this wall, President Trump creates a manifestation of his desire for control and also a physical and lasting monument to his perceived greatness. There will be attempts to exclude it from spending bills, to frustrate its construction but President Trump will see it done because it is his wall. It is him.
2. He will get things done because of an indefatigable desire to maintain superiority
In common with our kind, President Trump regards himself as in a class of one, above everybody else and why not? He is the oldest and wealthiest President in history. He has no governmental or military experience before taking office and he could not even rely on being a film star (although TV may half tick this box). Yet he became President of the United States and thus the most powerful man in the world. He believes that such a position is his right and entitlement and that the office was always destined to be his. To ensure he maintains superiority he will not give up. He must win every fight, he must ensure his opponent stays unsettled, belittled and whatever it takes to remain the one who has superiority. Witness the refusal to shake hands with Angela Merkel the German Chancellor. Diplomatic protocols and political niceties do not matter – he does what he wants and such an act ensured, in his mind, he held the advantage in that meeting.
President Trump’s stance on refugees is well-documented after he warned that admitting refugees from generally Muslim nations presented a threat to US security. Wasting no time, he issued an executive order suspending a refugee programme for 120 days. This was halted by a federal judge. President Trump did not wait around, he issued a revised executive order. Again this was halted by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland. President Trump has stated he will fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court and he will. A narcissist who wishes to maintain his superiority over his spouse when arguing about his late arrival from an evening of drinking will engage in blame-shifting, projection, denial, deflection, word salad and many more manipulations so he maintains the upper hand. He will twist and turn to stay on top. President Trump is no different. His desire to get his way will mean he will also twist and turn, order, demand and so forth so his superiority remains intact because to him as one of our kind it absolutely has to.
3. He will get things done because he is, from his perspective, always right
The Narcissistic Perspective which I have explained previously in Toxic Logic means that whilst we are looking at the same facts as you, we have differing perspectives. Those who are not of our kind find this difficult to grasp as they regard their perspective as the one that must be right and our stance is illogical, but to us our perspective is logical and right because it serves us and our needs.
This unshakeable belief in always being right serves to drive President Trump forward. It means that when he faces an obstacle, it is wrong and he is right and therefore it must be removed, surmounted or broken through and such action is also right. The maintenance of this perspective results in frequent and extensive blame-shifting. A Gallery of Villains is created who are shown to be irrational and dangerous opponents seeking to damage the righteous and right narcissist.
Take a look at President Trump’s Gallery of Villains, those who are to be blamed for various ills and who he shifts blame onto in order to remain right. Obama, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco (Marco Rubio), Muslims, China, Washington (“drain the swamp”), Mexican Americans, Democrats, the BBC, environmentalists and of course, the media, to name some.
Now of course it is hardly unheard of for an administration to blame others for current problems but the scale and extent of this blame-shifting is entirely representative o four kind and it will continue. Other people will always be at fault so target your annoyance, your hatred at them but not President Trump. He will not shy away from blaming anybody. His spokes person Sean Spicer has been criticised by President Trump, he is not afraid to chuck bodies on the bonfire be they longstanding villains or fresh ones, even from his own side.
By placing the blame always somewhere else and maintaining his superiority of being right, President Trump will continue to forge forward. Yes, he will create enemies, he will create protests and divide people, but of course he does not care. Why? Because he is right and they are at fault. 3 million protesting? So what? They are wrong and anyway it is fuel to him. Millions did not protest and millions voted for him, that is what he will be thinking.
4. He will use the narcissistic quality of victimhood to his advantage
This ties in with blame-shifting also. Our kind regard ourselves as victims when it suits us in order to engender sympathy, to derive pity, to manipulate, to achieve what we want and this is borne out of our perspective that the world is a cruel and harsh place where it is seeking to do us down. By playing the victim we seek to blame-shift and avoid accountability whilst generating justification for our own actions.
President Trump is an extensive deployer of the concept of victimhood for the purposes of creating loyalty, stigmatising opponents and maintaining his stance as the one who will be the saviour. In his speeches he has referred to
“people that were mistreated by Government for many, many years”
“victims of illegal crime”
“The jobs left”
“they’ve made us look foolish”
He creates a justifiable (from his perspective) them and us approach and of course that is in keeping with the narcissistic trait of split thinking. There is no grey. You are either with him or you are against him. You are either the perpetrator of awful activities against his people (and by extension him) or you are going to do something right and be loyal people (and by extension validate him). President Trump has no time for those he has painted ‘black’ with this split thinking. They are the enemy and have no standing. Again, those in the Gallery of Villains will be undermined through the application of narcissistic traits which leads us to the next point.
5. He will create his own truth
Much has been made of the concept of living in ‘post truth’ times. The adoption of a reality which accords with the needs of the narcissist is one of the hallmarks of narcissistic existence. The creation of a world where we are the ultimate controllers of everything around us, is important, and in order to do so, everything must be bent to our will to achieve this and if we cannot bend the world around us to do what we want, we create our own world, which is essentially Sigmund Freud’s extension of the latin quote
‘Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo’
(If I cannot bend the powers above, I will move the Infernal Regions)
Accordingly, this has led to the rise of fake news. If the output of the villainous news outlet does not accord with the narcissistic perspective then it is denied and labelled fake news. A new world with a new logic is being created and this will continue. It is worth making the point of course that this bending of facts is committed by both sides, since a slant can always be placed on news, however this moves beyond slants and spin but instead the wholesale dismissal of news as being fake and therefore invalid.
This creation of a new world outlook will continue and therefore anything that is presented to President Trump that does not align with his outlook will be dismissed, rejected and labelled in this manner.
This truth creation is a double edged sword. On the one had it maintains the belief of superiority and the ability to get things done, but it will also bring about conflict. Of course, that conflict will be caused by those regarded as being in the wrong and will lack any foundation of validity.
6. He will improve the US economy (but at a cost)
President Trump is a successful business man. He is worth between $3.5 and $10 billion dependent on who you ask, but what’s a few billion at that level? That denotes success. He knows he is successful. His self-belief (both based on achievement and delusional grandeur) means he knows best for the economy and in part that is right. His stance on trade which will see a more protectionist approach, his stated desire to create 25 million jobs over 10 years and his tax proposals will be achieved. This will see the US economy move upwards and there will be economic growth with a larger economy. Other countries will rush to court the US with shifting trade arrangements because the US is the ultimate trade partner and what it does dictates the global economy (witness the sub-prime fallout of 2008 as a recent example). Against this, the proposed enforcement of immigration will see millions of unpaid labourers removed. This will ultimately have an adverse effect on the economy but not after a period when domestic workers will be able to enjoy the boon afforded by the emphasis on hiring workers from the US. This will be a useful vote-winning and populist move but it will affect the economy so that the economic growth which will still occur, will not be as great as it might have been. The main cost however of this will be an increase in the deficit but President Trump will not care about that. It will be someone else’s fault and he will be focused on showcasing his triumphs through increased employment and an upturned economy.
7. Creation of an echo chamber
President Trump has already surrounded himself with admirers and those who think like him and accord with his values. Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State) worked for Exxon for 40 years and thus is a fellow rich businessman. Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary) is a Wall Street insider from Goldman Sachs amongst other financial institutions. James Mattis (Secretary of Defence) is a popular and well-liked retired general who is known for blunt comments – just like the President. John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security Secretary) clashed with Obama on illegal immigrants between the US and Mexico. President Trump has installed his son-in-law as an advisor and his daughter has recently had a formal position created for her. This birds of a feather mentality ensures that he is surrounded by like thinkers who will accord with his views and provide momentum to what he requires.
It is not all one way traffic however. President Trump will make changes and volte faces as it suits him (as our kind regularly do) although any kind of allegation of contradictions, about turns or hypocrisy will always be rejected – it has to, superiority has to be maintained. An example of this is how in late January President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum removing traditional military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council’s Principal Committee and he appointed Steve Bannon (a clear Lieutenant) who is his chief strategist as regular attendee. By 4th April, the influence of HR McMaster (National Security Adviser who replaced Michael Flynn who had just 24 days in office) reversed those changes. This epitomises the compartmentalisation that we engage in. What was right yesterday, is wrong today and is then right again tomorrow and those decisions and outcomes remain separated.
In our minds the decision was always right all along and history has been revised in accordance with our narcissistic mindset and the need to maintain superiority (see The Revision of History ). If President Trump sees that it will achieve what is to be done, then he will make those changes. There is no dithering, no hesitation. The changes may contradict previous stances but not in his mind. His mind will always find a way to brush aside such allegations.
8. Frustration will cause achievement but foster resentment
In accordance with his huge sense of entitlement, what the President wants done must be done immediately and if not it is a criticism and his churning fury which is always there will start to ignite.
All narcissists have this fury. When we are criticised (which is not the same as criticism that a non-narcissist experiences) but rather, it is fuel free criticism and our fury ignites. Some of us can keep this under control, others cannot and it manifests as heated fury (physical violence, property destruction, shouting, name calling) or cold fury (cold shoulder, silent treatments, exclusion, sulking) .
President Trump suffers such narcissistic criticism often and this wounds him. His fury ignites. He does not go so far as to physically assault people, that is not his major weapon – Twitter is.
As a prolific tweeter, President Trump uses the social medium to display his heated fury and in turn the re-tweets and likes by the tens of thousands provide him with fuel which heals the wound caused by the criticism and his fury abates.
On the 7th February, clearly frustrated (and thus wounded by this criticism) of the dilatory nature by which his cabinet was not in place, he tweeted
‘It is a disgrace my cabinet is not yet in place, the longest delay in the history of our country.”
It was not the longest delay but that does not matter. His impatience and frustration is evident, something our kind suffers from and he sees no need to hide it.
Following Meryl Streep’s criticism of him at the Oscars, President Trump again turned to Twitter and referred to Streep as a “Hillary flunky” a clear response to being wounded.
When things are not being done to his liking and at the required speed, this will feel like a criticism to him. His fury will ignite and he will dismiss people, criticise them openly through Twitter and other means and take other steps to get done what he wants. This will have the advantage of causing matters to progress and people to operate through fear (love and fear being the chief reactions caused by our kind) but behind this will be a growing resentment at those who feel they have been badly treated as a consequence of these manifestations of ignited fury borne out of criticism arising from delay and frustration.
9. There will be no smoothing of the bombastic, straight talking
There are those who may have thought that achieving the goal of office and the standing that comes with it, then President Trump might somewhat calm down and apply some finesse and diplomatic gloss to his behaviour and words. There is unsurprisingly no evidence of that having happened so far and nor will it.
He, of course, as explained above is right about everything he says and everybody who disagrees is wrong. This straight talking has appeal, obviously to many voters who became tired of the coded speeches, political spin and doublespeak of other candidates and administrations. President Trump’s plain speaking means he regularly labels people (another narcissistic trait) and as mentioned above one of his biggest was to refer to Hillary Clinton as Crooked Hillary. He has repeatedly insulted news reporters in conferences and of course famously imitated disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski at a party rally in 2015.
This incident also evidenced President Trump’s capability for compartmentalisation and the revision of history (both of which will serve him in maintaining the upper hand) as later he declared
“I have no idea who this reporter Serge Kovaleski is”
and went even further to evidence our split-second contradictory behaviour by adding
“Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him.”
He also revels in taking hold of plain speaking directed at him and his allies. When Clinton referred to his supporters as a “basket of deplorables” this was seized on as a badge of honour and appropriated. Insults and plain speaking are in his domain and he will continue to use these devices to further his aims whilst turning the tables on anybody who uses them against him.
Such an attitude will enable him to get business done, to face down opponents but for every success achieved through this he is likely to create another problem through alienation and insult.
10. He will do what he wants
In accordance with the narcissistic sense of entitlement, failure to recognise boundaries, lack of accountability and preoccupation with unlimited success, President Trump will do what he wants. He considers himself unfettered and will adopt a Nixonian stance of
“When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.”
This will allow him to drive matters forward, he will consolidate popularity with his own supporters but he will draw challenges and disapproval elsewhere. Hence already his support remains high in his core supporters but his approval rating as a whole has fallen. Your opinion does not matter because if you are not with him then you are wrong and not to be listened to. You can be shuffled out of his inner circle and someone else will be found instead to provide the validation that narcissists require.
Furthermore, President Trump was democratically elected which means that this can only reinforce his belief that he is always right. His evident magnetism, driven attitude and bluff charm appealed to millions who felt let down and abandoned by a technocratic elite. But winning the electoral college vote was not enough to accord with this sense of right and entitlement. President Trump asserted that he would have won the popular vote as well if millions of immigrants had not voted illegally. Whether there is any evidence to support this assertion, it does not matter. This view accords with his sense of grandiosity – he in his mind achieved total victory because he will adopt the perspective which allows this to happen and this unlocks and maintains the right to do as he pleases.
Already, during his presidency, President Trump has spent 15% of his time at Trump owned or branded properties. Why not? They are his properties and he is President. He can do as he pleases. Mar-a-Lago has become the Winter White House. People criticise this mixing of official and self-interest but President Trump rejects this. He can do what he wants. They are wrong for a hundred reasons that the narcissistic perspective puts in place by way of defence mechanism.
This mixing of of self-interest with his duties as president has caused his critics to think this will cause him problems because of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. President Trump’s lawyers disagree saying the emoluments do not apply to him. President Trump added clarification stating
“The law is totally on my side, meaning the President cannot have a conflict of interest.”
Again, he does what he wants. Again, this will allow progress but with an associated cost to those left by the wayside by this juggernaut approach.
11. Conflict looms
It is highly likely that President Trump’s administration will engage in conflict. This seems less likely with Russia (although of course his critics will continue to maintain that he is some kind of pro-Russian stooge being worked by Putin) but more likely with China. The US is the world’s dominant power. President Trump wishes to reduce the US’s role as the world’s policeman and adopt a more isolationist approach. This will occur and will be done for several reasons, one of which is to address the fact that China is a rising power. History shows that major conflicts are always triggered by the appearance of a rising power and the dominant power’s need to maintain dominance. One might regard this as an obvious response and one of self-defence, but add to that the fact that the Commander-in-Chief’s narcissistic self-defence mechanism to remain dominant and superior in everything, it makes for a flammable situation. Already President Trump’s tweet about Taiwan’s ruler congratulating his election ruffled Chinese feathers and the Chinese will not sit idly by if Taiwan is interfered with. Strong talking from President Trump is likely to lead to conflict between the US and China although the scale of such conflict is difficult to gauge.
Similarly, President Trump’s stance with regards to Muslim refugees, ISIS and most recently Syria will result in US intervention in the Middle East. He will maintain a firm stance against ISIS and terrorism which will maintain popularity with his supporters but will naturally irritate in various degrees the countries of the Middle East.
President Trump will put himself first which means by extension the US will come first. The two concepts are inextricably linked and this will cause tensions and conflict overseas but will bring with it populism and patriotic support.
There is much more that might be written about what the future holds. President Trump will continue to be supported by many who see him as the catalyst that the US has been waiting for and if this means cracking a few eggs along the way, then so be it. Nobody can deny he is a man of success – wealthy, President, famous – and that is because of his inherent narcissism which has driven him to achieve all of this.
He will have made opponents in business and now those opponents are lining up in academia, the media, politics, (national and international) and on the street in protests. This will not concern him as it is all fuel to him. Love him, hate him, but never ignore him. There will be those who will now be compiling a dossier of transgressions with a view to impeaching him in due course. The attempt will be made but he will survive it. This is because as one of our kind, President Trump is designed and engineered to survive. He will always have supporters and even his detractors will fuel him and cause him to continue. He has before and this will not change.
He must remain in control. He must remain the one with the whip hand. He has to be superior and everything about him is programmed to bring that about. He will achieve much and will cause division but that does not concern him. He will be challenged many times but he will have to be dragged out of the White House before he will go anywhere else and of course before that will happen one must have regard to the others of our kind who have a vested interested in one of the brethren operating in this rudimentary, obvious and effective manner. They will protect their investment. We always do.