Monday, March 7, 2016

Donald Trump and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: An Interview with Sam Vaknin - Arlen Williams

by Arlen Williams

Some see Donald Trump's behavior in the media and become concerned. I recently had the opportunity to discuss him with Sam Vaknin, author of written the widely read and very favorably reviewed book, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited and Narcissistic and Psychopathic Leaders.

Shmuel Ben David “Sam” Vaknin is an authority on the subject of narcissism, having written the widely read and very favorably reviewed book, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited and Narcissistic and Psychopathic Leaders. He may be described as a polymath, with extraordinary expertise (and experience) in abnormal psychology, and with focuses including temporal physics and politics (See his Web site, YouTube site, and Wikipedia bio).

Some see Donald Trump's behavior in the media and become concerned. I recently had the opportunity to discuss him with Sam Vaknin.

AW: Psychiatrists are generally precluded from publicly discussing their opinions or findings concerning individuals' mental illnesses. But Dr. Vaknin, your expertise comes by over twenty years of focused study of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) free of such inhibition.
You have related grave concerns about one of our Republican presidential candidates. I think anyone might connect narcissism with Donald Trump as a fairly obvious and perhaps innocuous trait. But you mean something else.

Vaknin: I do. I was the first to introduce pathological narcissism into the terms of the political debate with my July 2008 essay where I suggested that Obama may be a narcissist. Obama is intelligent and prosocial. Trump clams to be the former, but he is definitely not the latter. I regard him as much more of a menace than Obama ever was to the future of the USA and, by extension, the world. I am shocked that -- despite an increasing awareness of the dangers of narcissism in the media and in the public -- Trump is still making any headway in this election cycle.

AW: What is NPD and how "malignant," as your book title implies, is it?

Vaknin: The latest, fifth, edition (2013) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) -- the classificatory bible of psychology in North America -- has done an excellent job of revamping the definition of NPD by introducing a dimensional description of the disorder. But, the diagnostic criteria from the previous, fourth, edition of the DSM are more accessible to laymen. So, here they are, updated with the latest knowledge we have about this pernicious disorder. You can easily see Trump writ large in each and every one of the nine criteria.

The narcissist ...
  • Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequaled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion
  • Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply)
  • Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment
  • Is "interpersonally exploitative," i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others
  • Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly
  • Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law," and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy
AW: How likely do you believe it is that Donald Trump has NPD, and why? Can you surmise how far up or down the NPD scale he may be?

Vaknin: I have watched 600 hours of video of Trump. Here are my preliminary clinical observations:

Trump confabulates a lot and has grandiose fantasies, which he has come to believe in, thus partially and intermittently losing touch with reality (delusionally "failing the reality test").

Trump is hypervigilant to the point of paranoia, besieged by conjured enemies and imaginary slights to his person, appearance, or accomplishments. He reacts aggressively and vindictively to such perceived narcissistic injuries and humiliations. His is a siege mentality.

Trump is a compulsive attention-seeker and will go to any extreme to obtain it.

Trump is counterdependent: he abhors authority, rules, traditions, and "The Establishment" and rebels against them vociferously and ostentatiously. He is manifestly defiant and abrasive.

Trump talks about himself in the third person ("Trump will do this") and often uses the royal "we" to refer to himself. His first person pronoun density (the number of times he uses "I," "me," and "myself" in a conversation or in interviews) is the highest I have ever heard from any politician, Obama included.

Trump places a premium on appearances rather than on substance.

Trump is highly somatic and hypochondriac as he emphasizes the way he dresses and refrains from damaging his shrine-like body by consuming substances like alcohol or nicotine. He is self-worshiping and painfully self-conscious.

Trump is disproportionately aggressive, hypersensitive, and defensive, faking superiority which, in all probability is compensatory: it masks a deep and unsettling sense of inferiority and extreme awareness of and an agonizing dependence upon what other people think of him ("thin skin").

Trump lacks empathy and clearly enjoys embarrassing and hurting other people gratuitously. Such antisocial misconduct makes him feel (and, in his mind, actually renders him) all-powerful and God-like ("omnipotent").

Trump has an inordinately developed "cold empathy": the kind of an "x-ray vision" that allows him to immediately spot the vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and chinks in the armor of his interlocutors, adversaries, partners, and enemies and to leverage this knowledge to his benefit by penetrating their defenses. He therefore resonates powerfully and intimately with the hidden hopes, dreams, fantasies, delusions, and negative emotions (rage, hatred, fear) of his "constituencies." He is a consummate predator.

To my mind, Trump is the most perfect example I have ever come across of a malignant and, probably, psychopathic narcissist. Of course, he cannot be fully and assuredly diagnosed this way. Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But the overwhelming preponderance of presenting symptoms and visual and textual evidence for tentative profiling is definitely there.

AW: Mr. Trump is renowned for his personal attacks through mass media including his Twitter account. He has recently threatened two other wealthy men with reprisals for behavior he purports to be against him: Tom Ricketts (also, Ricketts' family) allegedly for "secretly" spending money in opposition to his political ambitions, and also Jeff Bezos, whose Washington Post has editorialized against his candidacy. He also threatened to sue Ted Cruz for his ad about Trump's varying positions on abortion. Is such behavior likely to be a trait of NPD?

Also, one doesn't usually associate narcissism with violence, but Trump has apparently come out for ordering our military and/or intelligence personnel to murder the families of terrorist combatants, also to torture supposed terrorists in ways "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." These are regarded as war crimes. Does this suggest problems in his make-up beyond NPD?

Vaknin: All narcissists lack emotional empathy and are, to some extent, anti-social. Many narcissists are somewhat psychopathic and, therefore, sadistically prone to violence. They get a high and derive an almost sexual gratification from wielding power and inflicting pain and humiliation on others. It sustains their grandiose fantasy of omnipotence (that they are Godlike, all-powerful). That's why many narcissists are litigious, threaten "their enemies" incessantly, seek to embarrass and humiliate them in public, stalk them, and harass them recurrently. Narcissists have a black and white view of the world: if you are not 100% with me, you are 110% the enemy (this is known as "splitting" in the psychological jargon). Trump strikes me as this type of narcissist.

AW: Is it your considered opinion that Donald Trump would represent a significant danger were he to become president of the United States of America and if so, how?

Vaknin: You just have to look at Trump's business history to extrapolate America's future under a President Trump. Narcissists are unstable and go through repeated cycles of self-destruction (with other people usually paying the heft of the price). Narcissists tend to be divisive, vindictive, confrontational, aggressive, hate-filled, raging, incoherent, judgment-impaired, and irrational. Narcissists are junkies: they are addicted to attention ("Narcissistic Supply") and will go to any extreme to secure it. Narcissists are liars, confabulators, and miserable failures (although some of them, like Trump, are geniuses at disguising the fact that they are, in fact, losers). Is this the kind of person you want in the White House?

Arlen Williams publishes and edits; Twitter: @ArlenWms.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Anonymous said...

March 08 2016

With psycho-babblistic critics like this, Donald Trump must be doing something right. Would Messrs. Vaknin and Williams care to do a similar "analysis" of the fellow who currently occupies the oval office ? Not to mention the Democratic party's leading contenders
for the White House in November 2016..The Clintons and "Bernie" Saunders ? Didn't think so. Can any one outdo the harm done to America's morale and reputation than that crew?
But the trauma that Trump causes in his adversaries is so entertaining, that it's irresistible !So, fellas, Just go on trolling the bottom of your left lib-left cesspool & the faculty lounges of junk academe?...Seeking vituperative relief from what you will never understand: Let alone face.
Why don't you look for the really good sinecures on the NEW YORK TIMES, George Soros's payroll, or perhaps the Carter Center ? Maybe Al Jazeera might entertain your requests for job opportunities. Several of your soul-mates here in Canada have made lucrative careers on those premises. Not to mention several of the Clintons' advisers with Jewish sounding names.
There's no law against the judgement of fools fellas. But there's no guaranteed protection against its consequences.

GOOGLE: {1}Norman L. Roth {2} Norman Roth, Technological Time
{3} Norman L. Roth, Origins of Markets {4} Norman L. Roth on Islam

Anonymous said...

June 12, 2016,

It appears that Omar Mir Siddique Mateen has the final word in Orlando Florida to-day on those self-deluded, pycho-babbly junk academics,who live off the avails of the lib-left dhimmi establishment.Do you and your kind still think that Donald Trump is just a "racist-bigot" or "narcissistic junkie"? And that the individual in the Oval Office who described another such Islamic moment by Major Hassan at Fort Hood Texas, as a "work place crime", is the last word in "sound judgement" ? Unless you still believe that the lives of ordinary Americans going about their daily routines,are a small price to pay for tolerating the unspeakable among us?

Norman L. Roth, Toronto Canada

Anonymous said...

Nov. 12, 2016

I'm rather proud of my post of March 08 2016. But, when it comes to total vindication, we may have to wait another six months to a year. Because not even the surface content of the Obama/Clinton Cess-Pool has been distilled out. We must keep in mind that no Executive-Congressionally mandated investigations have been launched as yet into either Hijacked cum Deletion-email-Gate': Or into the books of the Clinton Foundation. But an even greater bombshell has yet to explode among the Chicago gang who made Obama what he became: The most incompetent president of the last century; Possibly the most corrupt; And above all a "novum" {Jesuit educated scholars please} in his almost palpable bitterness toward his country, its constitutional values, and its very identity as a Trans-Atlantic heir of "Classical"-European /Western civilization: Unlike only partially 'Westernized' and not so "Latin" America.

We are, of course, referring to "Annenburg Foundation -Gate"; The forensic investigation into misappropriation of funds which targeted improvement in the academic performance of inner-City Chicago elementary school children. Obama and his buddy, probable Cop-killer Wm. Ayres were officers on the committee that dispersed the funding.
The forensic investigation that was just getting under way in 2008 was duly reported at the time. I recall seeing it aired on CNN; Complete with statements from a rather earnest bespectacled forensic accountant. What happened to that one must give new and enriched{pun intended} to procedures like, disappeared,delete, shred, burn, cover-up, perjury,obstruction of Justice, intimidation and career ruination. Hillary and Wm. Jefferson Clinton learned from the best !

GOOGLE: Norman L. Roth

Anonymous said...

Dec. 19, 2016

Please Click on the link above.

In 1990,my spouse and I had occasion to stay in the Semiramis Hotel, in downtown Cairo. Our room gave a perfect view of St. Marks Cathedral, whose tall steeple abutted an equally tall mosque, with a crescent moon atop its steeple. But the steeple of St. Marks Cathedral was completely enveloped by scaffolding, which made the Coptic Cross virtually invisible. When we enquired about this to our Egyptian tour guides, all of them went strangely silent and simply shrugged their shoulders. We spent more than a week touring the usual
attractions, as far south as Nubia. But even across more than a quarter century this baleful image of spiteful Muslim denial has never left us.
The huge casualty toll taken at the nearby Church of St. Peter is one more omen, not only of the deeply ingrained pathology of Islams followers, but also reminds us of the equally perverse state of denial that characterizes President elect Trumps enemies and critics, who continue to babble on about his being a racist and bigot. Is it possible that he might have something in his suggestion that all travellers from Muslim countries should be singled out for special surveillance and monitoring. Think about it. Especially because of the typically predictable slaughter perpetrated at a Christmas market in Berlin today.
GOOGLE: Norman L. Roth

Norman Roth said...

July 02 2017

P;ease reference Nov. 12, 2016, above.

Now that the dishonesty and disgusting malice against President Trump has been virtually confessed by CNN insiders as institutionally mandated,why not strike when the iron is hot? By making CNN the immediate target of a federally backed investigation into what happened in the Fall of 2008 ? When the Annenburg Foundation affair was reported publically by CNN .
The Annenburg Foundation is hardly the first or only Charitable foundation that has been hi-jacked by the kind of lib-left "progressives activists" who brought the most incompetent and corrupt presidency in American history to power in 2008. And who still have a strangle-hold on the Democratic National Committee. Not to mention their clout over both the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016. One can think of many Obama-Clinton insiders who should be subjected to the most thorough investigation & interrogation allowed by the rule of law under the Constitution. Which they so abused and violated,when they held power. CNN itself should be the first target. Let THEM have a taste of their own medicine before they can flush all evidence of their corruption into the sewers of history.

Please GOOGLE: Norman L. Roth

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