NPD to a T

For those of you who have allowed your subscription to the American Journal of Psychiatry to lapse or, like me, who engaged in some light napping during Psych 101, let me remind you.  NPD is the working abbreviation for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The “to a T” part you will have to figure out on your own. NPD has been getting some play on the net lately, in fact, a friend of a friend just sent me an interesting piece applying NPD to a current political celebrity.  I, of course, would never do that.  Consider this, then, just an intellectual inquiry to an interesting, long ignored subject.

First let me deal with the etymology of the term “narcissism”.  It is derived from Greek, or Roman or some other mythology of antiquity.  Surely you remember that Narcissis was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope.  One of the many character flaws of Narcissus was that he refused to return the love of those who loved him.  His Nemesis, another god in the making (sound familiar) lured him to a pool of water at which Narcissus became infatuated with his own reflected image.  To cut to the chase, he ultimately did the dutch act presumably because he was so enamored of his own beauty.  He came to realize that no one would ever love him as much as he loved himself, and he lost the will to live.  And as you all know, those who had a greatly exaggerated opinion of themselves came to be known as narcissists, and voila, the Narcissistic Personality Disorder was born.    Yes, I know this is a much abbreviated version of the story, but I’m just getting to the important part and I wanted to save the space.

It doesn’t take a lot of research to determine that there exists a fairly well agreed upon definition of NPD.  It runs something like this: “NPD is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding the feelings of others.  Dr. Steve Bressert, PhD wrote in a recent article that “the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include: grandiose sense of importance, preoccupation with unlimited success, belief that one is special and unique, exploitative of others, lacks empathy, is arrogant…He went on to opine that while the resultant behaviors may have been appropriate for a king in the 16th century, it is generally considered inappropriate for most ordinary people today.  Hmm.  I’d say that is an overwhelming understatement.

Of course, you know that I would not leave you with only this superficial understanding of the subject.  I did the proverbial deep dive.  I went directly to the source for all things on the mentally deficient.  The well known and much appreciated DSM-5.  What?  You aren’t familiar with this tome.  DSM-5 is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  I dunno what the 5 is for, but if you’re in the trade and want to figure if the bizarre behavior of your patient has a name, this would be your go-to book.  So here it is, from the horses mouth…

“People with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are characterized by their persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and a disdain and lack of empathy for others…In addition, people with NPD may exhibit fragile egos, an inability to tolerate criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in an attempt to validate their own superiority.” The emphasis is mine.

It goes on, “…individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms:

  1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
  2. Fixations on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc
  3. A self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
  4. Needing constant admiration from others
  5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  6. Exploitative of others to achieve persona gain
  7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
  8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  9. Pompous and arrogant demeanor.

Wow, what a list.  I wonder if all symptoms are weighted equally.  For example, do you get an 8 for needing constant admiration, but only a 2 for being pompous and arrogant.  Maybe you just check the box, if you have, say, more than 6 checked you’re it.  I suspect, but don’t know, that like so many things while it may be hard to define precisely, you’ll know it if you see it.

There’s a lot of other stuff in the learned research that is referred to as associated behaviors of NPDers.  I wont try to discuss them all but one that that jumped out at me was the assertion that those with NPD “use various strategies to protect the self at the expense of others.  They tend to devalue, derogate, insult, blame others, and they often respond to threatening feedback with anger and hostility.”  Emphasis also mine.

I spent a lot of time and read what seemed to be a lot of gibberish about causation.  Let me give you an example, “Experts tend to apply a biopsychosocial model of causation, meaning that a combination of environmental , social, genetic and neurobiological factors likely play a role.”  Huh!  I think Roger the artful dodger nailed it when he said, “that ol’ boy, he was born on third base, but thought he hit a triple.”  I suspect that we’ll never know, and I’m not sure it matters.

Let me say a few words about megalomania.  It wasn’t listed in the research as an “associated behavior, but it seems clear to me that it should be.  Simply put, a megalomanic is one who has delusions of grandeur, or who believes that one is or is destined for greatness.

Perhaps my hero Bertrand Russell said it best, “the megalomanic differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved.  To this  type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.”

What worries me is if we wind up in the clutches of a megalomaniacal narcissist.  A charming power monger who will do anything, who will say anything, who will promise anything to be loved (elected).  Hmm.  Know anyone who fits this bill…to a T.

 

 

 

Why I Would Never Vote for Trump.

I’m sure that the last thing any of you, discerning readers, want is more, any more, about the presidential election, or Hillary or the Trumpster. And yes, I know that I promised that my last posting on him would be my last. But like most politicians, I lied. I cannot help myself.

I recently read an interesting piece by a reporter for that reportedly liberal rag, The New York Times, wherein he posed a question to himself. It went something like this, “Will I be able to explain to my kids that I did all that I could to make sure Trump did not become president?” For those like me who are aghast at even the remote possibility of Trump as the leader of the free world and President of the United States, this was a form of a wake up call. Have I done all I should have done? Probably not.

Yes, I’ve made my thoughts on Trump known to all who will listen, and many who won’t. I’ve written two pieces posted on my blog web site detailing many, but not all, of the negative aspects of Trump. I’ve got two Clinton, Kaine yard signs posted at my farm. I’ve hosted a fund raiser for the Fannin County Democratic Party, and cheered on down ballot candidates for the  Party. As an aside, at the aforementioned fund raiser, Glenn Maxey who is the Legislative Director of the Texas Democratic Party and who bills himself as the first openly gay Texas state legislator commented with only a hint of tongue-in-cheek that in this part of Texas it’s often easier to be openly gay than openly Democrat.

So this is my last shot at Trump. I promise. I do this advisedly, knowing full well that some who read this will be Trump supporters for reasons of their own. And in this democracy, everyone has a right to vote…for reasons of their own. I respect that. But let me tell you why you should reconsider.

THE THREE (of many) REASONS WHY TRUMP DOES NOT DESERVE YOUR VOTE :

  1. Trump discriminates.  Trump has discriminated against blacks and other racial minorities his whole life. He and his father, Fred, purposefully set up a system keep blacks from renting apartments at their properties in New York.  They did this, presumedly under the theory that the presence of “people of color” in their apartments would diminish the value of the properties.  In short, he engaged in racial discrimination to make money. Plain and simple.  Yes he settled the discrimination suit that the Department of justice brought against him without a formal admission of guilt.  But that does not change the facts of what it is clear that he did.  His on-going discrimination against Latinos is in some ways more subtle but more evil.  He conflates one undocumented  Latino who commits any crime with all Latinos and concludes the only way to solve it is to build a big, beautiful wall, and send them all home.  He discriminates against those of a different (non-christian) religion by denying them entrance to the United States.  He discriminates against the physically disadvantaged by mocking them.  The discriminates against the weak and impoverished by paying no personal income tax for needed services.  He discriminates against some women by using his celebrity to sexually abuse them.  He discriminates against all women be demeaning their humanity while focusing on their sexual attributes. More on this later.  He discriminates against the small business owner and employee for refusing to pay their legitimate bills.  He discriminates against large financial institutions by repeatedly hiding behind the bankruptcy laws to avoid repaying legal debts.  In short…Donald Trump discriminates against those he has or can get power over.  He discriminates against pretty much everyone.  Character counts.
  2. Trump objectifies and demeans women. If you do one thing before you enter the voting booth, listen again to the Access Hollywood tapes, or take a look at the video.  I’m a 73 year old male of the species and I’ve seen and heard some pretty nasty stuff.  Nothing I’ve heard even approaches these casual statements by Trump.  When caught, he passed it off as “locker room talk”, and even his wife, Melania, said in an interview it was only “boisterous” talk, you know, boys being boys.  Are you kidding?  Straight from the mouth and mind of Donald Trump…

…..”I did try to f*#k her…I moved on her like a b@#ch”

…..And when you’re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.”

…..”Grab ’em by the p@#sy.  You can do anything.”

There are only two explanations for this behavior.  Either he said it and meant it, or he was bragging.  I don’t really know which is worse.  Worse, I mean as a reflection of the depravity of his character.  If I had to bet, it would be on the first of the explanations mainly because of the supporting evidence of the twelve women who have publicly revealed his behavior towards them.  Who knows how many more there are?

Is this what we want from a president?  I think not.  Would you bring him home for dinner? I think not. Invite him to your next church social? I think not. Represent you to the world at large.  Surely not.  Character counts.

3.  Trump mocks and demeans people with disabilities.  What, you say, does this have to do with his qualification to be president.    It may say nothing directly, but it says everything about his character, or lack thereof.  Let me give you the details in case you missed it.  Serge Kovaleski, a reporter for the New York Times had commented on Trump’s assertion that there were thousands of Muslims in Jersey dancing in the streets in the aftermath of 9-ll.   Trump took his comments as an affront to his personal veracity.  Which it certainly was.  What Trump then chose to do was not to argue the “facts”, he attacked the reporter.   Kovaleski suffers from a congenital disease called arthrogryposis.  Which, over time, causes joint contractures of one’s limbs. It can be a horribly disabling and disfiguring disease.  At one of Trumps rallies in July of this year, in an apparent effort to discredit the journalism of Serge, Trump gives his own mocking impression of the aforementioned reported. He contorted his own arms and tilted his head in an effort to portray the disfigurement of the reporter. When asked later about the mocking Trump said, “I’ve never met the guy so I couldn’t be aware of his condition, if I did (ever meet him) he should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper.”  Someone who will use the physical disability of another person to their own advantage is, well, I can’t come up with the right word for it.  All I can say is that for me this behavior represents an astonishing lack of character…particularly in one who has had every advantage in life.  As the old curmudgeon said, “this ole boy was born on third base, but told everyone he had hit a triple.”  Ok.  Everyone uses hyperbole to their advantage.  We all tell a few whoppers.   Some of us more than others.  But as Obama would say, “come on now…”, no one, and I mean no one has the right to demean another human because their body isn’t perfect, or their mind isn’t sharp.  Character counts.  Character counts a lot in a president.  And Trump doesn’t have any, or what he does have, as evidenced by the recitations above, is of pretty low class.

So these, then, are my disqualifying three.  There are many more.  Most of you know what they are too.  But with only these three…I would be embarrassed, even horrified to have Donald Trump as our president.  No, if, on the off chance that he wins, I will not “pick up my musket” or encourage others to exercise “their second amendment rights”.  I will bite my tongue and encourage all elected officials and citizens to make the best of a bad situation.

Our democracy is strong enough to carry on.

 

Bloviator in Chief

Given that those who trouble to read these blogs are of inordinately high intellect, I’m sure that you not only know the definition of the key word in this title, but also could easily suss out to whom I refer.  However, in the off chance there are some small few for whom the word does not ring a bell, I offer the following definitions:

BLOVIATOR

1.  A public figure, such as a politician or an actor, who makes outlandish, strident statements on issues, thinking that the average man will care about their opinions.

2.  Someone who pontificates about issues of which they are uninformed, yet pretend to be expert.

3.  A pompous blowhard who uses their celebrity to speak about topics on which they are totally unqualified.

Yep, you got it.  This could only refer to The Donald of which much has been made of late. It’s been suggested by my editor-in-chief, with whom I share a bed, that I should not be writing about Trump for at least two reasons.  First, he is such easy pickings that to dis him is far beneath my lofty aspirations not to mention, my dignity.  I might even be accused of dog piling. Secondly, given his predilection for legal remedy, he might just sue.  The first I reject on the basis that if you can’t pick on someone like Trump, who can you ever pick on.  The second I also reject primarily; because if he didn’t sue Rosie O’Donnell….you see what I mean.

I actually know Donald Trump. Well, know might be stretching a point.  But I have  only supped with him, and during this time at table, I had a lengthy conversation with him about the state of affairs in Trump world.  Perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that I listened while Trump talked.  That’s what passes for a conversation with Trump.  I’m pretty sure though that he wouldn’t now know me from Adams house cat.  The occasion was a dinner at his private club, Mar-a-Lago for which he was trying to sell memberships so he could pay the rent.  I was accompanied by my darling wife, S.   The Donald, or Donny as his good friends call him, was in the company of his second wife, Marla Maples Trump.  S. sat at the table with Marla and I was stuck with Trump.  I was asked later what I thought, and I replied that I thought someone had really screwed up the seating chart.  No, really, I did have one important takeaway about Trump.  When he is in full charm mode he is amazing.  That, and the fact that he can talk for fully three minutes without taking a breath.

There are those small minded few who opine that Trump, who has never held elective office, is in no way qualified to be president of the US of A.  Let me offer some evidence to the contrary.  He’s rich, he has built tall buildings, he had his own TV show, and, he has a demonstrated knack for marrying really good looking women.  Still not presidential you say.  Well, let’s take a look at some of the ways he is qualified.  Take foreign policy for example.  Unlike Sarah Palin who could see Russia from her kitchen window, Trump actually has some chops in this area.   He has (at least he says he has) several hotels with International in the name i.e. Trump International Hotel and Tower  (New York City), Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago), and Trump International Hotel and Residence in Phoenix.  Plus I know he has a hotel with the Trump name on it in Panama City, Panama, as well as a hotel and golf course in Scotland.  So I guess you could say so long as we’re conducting foreign policy with the Panamanians or the Scots, he’s our man. And he’s pretty good at working International in to everything else he owns or is associated with..  The topper to his foreign policy creds is much closer to home.  His first wife, Ivana, was from the Czech Republic.  In fact, Ivana Zelnickiva Trump, who is pretty sharp in her own right, didn’t even  become a citizen until 1988.  Then there’s the current Mrs. Trump, the former Melanija Knavs who then became Melania Knauss before she became Mrs. Trump 3.  She was born in Sevnica, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, otherwise called Slovenia.  She didn’t get her US citizenship until 2006. So you can see that The Donald has had close, even intimate, relationships with foreign nationals.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that Donald’s grandfather who emigrated to America in 1885  was named Friedrich Drumph, Like many of his era; however, he was determined to Americanize, and renamed himself Fred Trump.  Hmm.  Just think, if old Friedrich had not been anxious to become more American, at least in name, we might now have Drumph International Hotel and Tower.  So you see what I mean, no one can say that The Donald lacks foreign exposure and experience.

Ok, you say.  He passes muster on the foreign credentials front.  What about the economy?  What about budgets?  Finance?  Hah!  This may, in fact, be his strong suit.  First of all he’s worth billions.  No one can seem to agree on how many billions, but come on, even one tinsy billion is proof positive that he know something about money.  And if that’s not enough, what about his four bankruptcies.  Yes, I know that they weren’t personal but rather corporate bankruptcies, but they did have his name on them and he did control them at some point in time.  Lot’s of business guys have been through or associated with a bankruptcy, but four…that’s the thing of legends.  So let’s put this to bed.  We can safely claim these were Trump’s bankruptcies, and they, as much as anything shows that Trump can travel in the financial fast lane with anyone.  Hell, he can even go nose to nose with another republican candidate, and a woman, who ran a really big company and got fired for it. Some might say that bankruptcies aren’t necessarily proof positive of Trumps’s financial knowledge, but that just shows what the average joe doesn’t know about big business and high finance.  Big bankruptcies is how America got built.  Look at the evidence.  General Motors, American Airlines, to name but two recent examples.  Those deals didn’t get done by a bunch of rubes.  It took real skills, real vision, real energy and real leadership. Just like we need in Washington to Make America Great Again.

I haven’t looked real close, but I’m pretty sure we would find that The Donald has an equally impressive background in other pressing national issues like Social Security, Health Care, Immigration, and Income inequality.  Well, maybe not Income Inequality.  He does know what it’s like to be rich, but he may lack a little insight on the other end of the pay scale.

You, of course, know that most, not all, of the foregoing was offered with tongue-well-in cheek.  Let’s return to reality and refer back to the definitions above.  Is Trump a bloviator?  You bet he is?  In fact, I was surprised that his picture didn’t appear in the dictionary beside the definition.  He targets angry people with great success, and he stokes their anger.  Trump can say less, by saying more with no substance and great pretense of anger, but with great panach.  Go figure.  I wanna know where these people in the polls come from.  Who are these angry people and why are they angry? And why would they raise their hand in public for a certified megalomaniac.  A friend who has done business with Trump over the years told me that there’s not enough room in the room for Trump and his ego.  Look, he’s not stupid, and he’s gotten a lot of complex deals done over the years, and he’s married some really good looking women.  But does that qualify him for the presidency?  Of course, not.  You know it, I know it, and I think that even the people who are raising their hands for him know it.  Hell, he probably knows it too.

Why do they do it then?  Fawn over Trump that is.  Why to they give him standing ovations at even his most inane remarks.  Lemme give you a theory.  It’s, in part, his celebrity, but the real reason is political anger.  Political anger in the raw.    It looks to me like about 25-30 percent of our voting population at any one time is so angry about something or everything having to do with (big) government, that they would vote for anyone, regardless of qualifications or positions on the issues if he/she convinced the audience that their anger was shared.  The smart guy on the fringe does it by throwing what we used to call “gorilla dust” in the air.  Stir the pot, obfuscate with ultimatums, denigrate the status quo, recall the good old days with fervor, speak only in generalities with what passes for passion, castigate the establishment, speak of destroying the elite, ruling class, and while you’re at it, get the socialists too.   Solutions aren’t necessary.  Specifics are avoided.  The undocumented immigrant problem…build a big fence.  Secure the border.  Never mind that 40 percent of all illegals in the country got here with a legal visa in hand.  The threat of ISIL…send more troops to Iraq.  Prevent a nuclear Iran…use more sanctions or bomb them and take their oil.  And above all, guns.  Guns for everyone everywhere.  Shoot first.  It’s all self defense.  The 2nd amendment says so.  I wrote about political anger in a post I”m Mad as Hell…on November 15, 2010.  In it I concluded that “…anger is closely related to paranoia, it’s the handmaiden of fear, and a first cousin of hate.”  The other conclusion I reached that political anger is less useful than it might appear because anger, even political anger is not sustainable over a long period of time.  It loses steam at some point even for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

The slice of America that has pushed Trump to the top of most polls thinks it’s a good thing that he has no experience in government. It’s good that he’s not “sweating the details”.  It’s good he will say or do anything to get attention.  The more angry Trump is, the more they like him.  That’s why he won’t be there at the end.

I’d be truly morose if I didn’t know it won’t last.  Some form of the anger will last, but Trump won’t.  Like Perot in ’92, he will sooner or later add up the numbers, and having gotten all of the notoriety he can use, will do the math and figure out that spending large chunks of his own money in a losing cause isn’t worth it.  Then he will go back to his more comfortable, normal state of fleecing investors…a truly happy man.  A bloviator to the end.