There are many, many disagreements between businessman-turned-President Donald Trump and his opponents. But there is one thing upon which both of them agree.
Both agree that he is an extreme narcissist - or, as Trump himself would put it, the most amazing narcissist ever.
As President-elect Trump keeps himself busy with Cabinet appointments, thank you tours, television executive producing duties, and Twitter, his opponents are apoplectic, preparing for the end of the world.
I said above that Trump would also declare HIMSELF to be an extreme narcissist. I don't know if any journalist has ever directly asked him the question, but think about it. Would he respond to the "Are you a narcissist" question by saying that he's humble? I think not.
Jeffrey Kluger, co-author of Apollo 13 (a/k/a Lost Moon) and author of the more recent book The Narcissist Next Door, addressed this very question in a listicle of facts about narcissists.
4. One of the best ways to determine if a person is a narcissist is to ask them if they are a narcissist. They will often say yes.
"In the case of a narcissist, it's often because what they're saying is 'Well yeah, if you mean do I have a high opinion of myself, I do, but that's because gosh I'm the best person I know. I deserve to have a high opinion of myself,'" Kluger said.
But is Trump truly the most amazing narcissist ever? The jobs of President and Chief Executive Officer tend to attract narcissists, and if you look at some of Trump's predecessors in the Oval Office, you'll find many have been tagged as malignant narcissists - usually by their enemies. Here are things that have been written about three living politicians:
The most shocking thing about the [event] ... was [politician's] complete obsession about [self]....[Politician's] performance is a case-study in malignant narcissism with all the attendant paranoia and disturbing inability to consider other ... human beings at the center of the [event].
Psychologically speaking, [politician] is what is called a “malignant narcissist.” ... A “malignant” narcissist ... is a narcissist who reacts sadistically to others who don’t support and enable their narcissism. For example, instead of self-reflecting and taking in critical feedback, the [politician's staff] reacts with ruthless contempt for anyone who disagrees with them. Like a mean and cruel-spirited malignant narcissist, [the politician's staff] deny the accusation and try to destroy the messenger. Ultimately, a malignant narcissist wants to annihilate anyone who in any way threatens their illusory self-image and self-serving agenda.
I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents. Primarily because of the activism and the – and the injection of working at the [major organization] and in [a list of issues]. We’re right in the midst of the – of the constant daily debate.
These quotes respectively refer to Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton, and to Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.
But narcissists have their admirers. At the same time that Tammy Bruce and others criticize Clinton for self-absorption, others are awed by her:
Maybe she is more than a president. Maybe she is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself. The presidency is too small for her. She belongs to a much more elite class of Americans....Hillary Clinton did everything right in this campaign, and she won more votes than her opponent did. She won. She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second. Instead, she will be decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House.
Narcissists, by their very force, can be captivating, and while Clinton, Bush 43, Carter, and Trump all have their enemies, they also have admirers.
But none of these hold a candle to the REAL narcissists who have resided in the White House. The Pew Research Center rated the narcissism of all of the Presidents from Washington to George W. Bush - and while the methodology of any such study can be questioned, it's probably fair to say that the people at the top of the list were/are more narcissistic than the people at the bottom of the list.
So, who topped the list?
Compared to the people at the top of this list, Trump is a nobody. Imagine Trump trying to say "You're fired" to Lyndon Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, or Andrew Jackson. Lyndon would crush Trump's anatomy, Teddy would batter him with a big stick, and General Andy would shoot him faster than Indiana Jones.
But how is someone supposed to act when he or she ends up on the staff of Donald Trump - or of Steve Jobs? Jane Brody quoted Joseph Burgo:
“The best defense for employees who choose to stay is to protect the bosses’ egos and avoid challenging them,” Dr. Burgo said in an interview. His general advice to those running up against extreme narcissists is to “remain sane and reasonable” rather than engaging them in “battles they’ll always win.”
It also helps to praise narcissists for being so wonderful - something that Vladimir Putin apparently knows very well.
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