Narcissism Does Not Discriminate
Who would have imagined that a Republican president would have been even more divisive than Obama?
Donald Trump was the perfect subject for analysis during the 2016 campaign. His Narcissistic Personality Disorder provided ample opportunities to study his motivation, tactics, successes, and influence on other subjects, namely, his supporters.
“The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. These characteristics typically begin in early adulthood and must be consistently evident in multiple contexts, such as at work and in relationships.” from Psychology Today
By repeatedly condemning “weak” politicians and policies, Donald Trump successfully attracted the endorsement of those who were subconsciously seeking an authoritarian figure who could set all things right again. All that was necessary was their one vote for a hero to save the day – not the hard work of the long-term republican responsibility of holding all representatives accountable to conservative Constitutional principles.
Generating a Cult Following
The fact that many of Trump’s supporters were looking for an authoritarian figure excuses much of his undesirable behavior and even inspires their own:
“During the beginning of the year, political scientist Matthew MacWilliams conducted a national poll under the support of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, among 18,000 registered voters across the country and political spectrum. MacWilliams found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religion had no substantial impact on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. His results showed that it was in fact authoritarianism and the fear of terrorism that was more apparent. MacWilliams’ polls revealed that, based on the four questions about parenting, Trump was the only candidate (Republican or Democrat) who was supported by authoritarians by a statistically significant amount and, compared to the other factors, authoritarianism was virtually the best factor when predicting Trump support.” from Affinity Magazine
Social media interactions continue to be flooded with oppositional statements regarding the Trump phenomena. Many of his supporters are known to use the same strategies their leader employed during his campaign.
Projection is a common tool among Trump apologists. Candidate Trump successfully utilized this ploy to persuade his followers that those running against him were unworthy based on their lack of morals, insensitivities to the common man, lack of successes, and assumptions of superiority. He could have been looking in a mirror.
Now, Trump supporters use Projection to verbally assault Conservatives who refuse to assimilate. Reflecting the reality that he truthfully proclaimed that he “loves the poorly educated”, his supporters use names like “Stupid!” as petty weapons against his “enemies”.
He projects a hatred of those he considers inferior to himself to stroke his own ego, and fomented hatred of the “other” during campaign speeches – “identity rallies”, a psychologist called them. “Hater!” is often seen as the epithet of choice by his acolytes. Trump’s own Liberal leanings (“I identify more as a Democrat.”) are deflected by drawing attention to other Liberals to attack. “Well, you must love ‘Hitlery’, then!” is frequently manifested by his followers as a last resort to lose the argument in a huff, perfectly mirroring Trump’s binary thinking.
Trump’s bullying tactics worked so well it got him elected to the highest office in the land. Now, his followers wield the same weapons to flog rebels who refuse to submit to Trumpism, not only dividing a nation but dividing the Right.
Copying his “debate” methods has ingrained an identical Superiority Complex in his following, based mainly on desperate attempts at justification to assuage their cognitive dissonance.
“A superiority complex is a psychological defense mechanism where feelings of superiority counter or conceal feelings of inferiority. The primary difference between rising above difficult circumstances and a superiority complex is that in a superiority complex, you start with secret feelings of inferiority and these never actually go away, they are just covered up.” from Evolution Counseling
In The Psychology Behind Donald Trump’s Unwavering Support
Research explains why Donald Trump maintains support despite shocking behavior.
Posted Sep 13, 2016, Bobby Azarian, Ph.D. asserts four psychological commonalities:
- “The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed; it’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed.’
In other words, those who endorsed Donald Trump because he was a successful businessman, Conservative, morally righteous, “not a politician”, smart, and kind were deceived.
Trump played on fear, employing the psychology of Hypersensitivity to Threat:
- “Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with remarks that would normally be seen as highly offensive.”
Through continual fear-mongering, Trump had his “subjects” eating out of the palm of his beneficent hand. This tactic was reinforced through Terror Management Theory.
- “By constantly emphasizing existential threat, Trump creates a psychological condition that makes the brain respond positively rather than negatively to bigoted statements and divisive rhetoric.”
“He may be crude, but he’ll protect us!”
Lastly, Dr. Azarian proposes that The Donald seduced them through High Attentional Engagement.
- “Essentially, the loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction with entertainment and reality TV. To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With Donald, you are always left wondering what outrageous thing he is going to say or do next. He keeps us on the edge of our seat, and for that reason, some Trump supporters will forgive anything he says. They are happy as long as they are kept entertained.”
What does it mean to our Republic to have a President, afflicted so obviously by psychosis, and a following so influenced by psychological manipulation?
Nothing good, I would wager.