December 27, 2015


Why Donald Trump Loves Vladimir Putin : Because he loves himself a lot--really, he does. (David Corn, Dec. 23, 2015, Mother Jones)

The political rise of Donald J. Trump has drawn attention to one personality trait in particular: narcissism. Although narcissism does not lend itself to a precise definition, most psychologists agree that it comprises self-centeredness, boastfulness, feelings of entitlement and a need for admiration.

They declared that it would be "inappropriate of us to offer a formal assessment of his level of narcissism." But according to the Mayo Clinic, these are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerating your achievements and talents
Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Requiring constant admiration
Having a sense of entitlement
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Being envious of others and believing others envy you
Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Yes, mental health specialists should not diagnose anyone from afar. But it would be hard to read this list and point to a public figure who exhibits more of these traits than Trump. In Psychology Today, journalist Randi Kreger, who has written on personality disorders, applies this list to Trump's statements and actions and finds--guess what?--compelling evidence for each symptom. Some experts have been so sure of Trump's narcissism that they have been willing to brand him with the N-word merely on the basis of his public life. As Vanity Fair reported recently:

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. "Remarkably narcissistic," said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Textbook narcissistic personality disorder," echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. "He's so classic that I'm archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there's no better example of his characteristics," said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. "Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He's like a dream come true."

Let's assume that Trump, if he's not a full-blown case of narcissistic personality disorder, is narcissistic-ish. And then let's ask: How does a narcissist judge other people in his super-self-centered world? Certainly, it's all about how these other people relate to the narcissist. And for a narcissist, what's most significant is how others think of him. So in the case of Putin, what counts for Trump is how Putin regards Trump. 

Posted by at December 27, 2015 5:08 PM