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It’s as if psychologists decided on the definition for “unprincipled narcissist” from within a Trump rally.
Many people have pointed out that Donald Trump is a narcissist, but what does that actually mean? The late Theodore Millon, one of the co-developers of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, devised the subtypes of personality disorders and described the attributes of the “unprincipled narcissist” disorder as: deficient conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con artist and charlatan; dominating, contemptuous, vindictive. These personality attributes shape behavior patterns which, in the unprincipled narcissist, tend toward self-absorbed egotism. Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle criticism, and a sense of entitlement.
Identifying an unprincipled narcissistic disorder sheds a lot of light on Trump’s actions. For instance, his apologists are forever praying for and assuring themselves that soon Trump will stop promoting patently egregious lies, and that soon, very soon, Trump will pivot and become more presidential; and soon, very soon, Trump will quit attacking his former and now vanquished Republican rivals and move on to the main task of demonizing Hillary; and soon, surely, very, very soon, Trump will seriously up his campaign game. Nope. None of that is going to happen. They don’t understand the self-absorbed egotism that is the fundamental driving essence of Trumpness.
Noticing the lies and shifting policy positions misses the point. A Trump speech is just a story starring Trump. To Trump, lies are not bad in the sense that there are negative moral attributes attached to them. Lies are just convenient tools that he uses to stroke his self-indulgent puffery, to incite his followers, or to provide a means of damaging his opponents. There are no moral components in Trump’s considerations about whether to say a particular thing or not, only whether a narrative will advance Trump’s ambitions as he sees them at that time. So Ted Cruz’s dad was in on the Kennedy assassination, Barack Obama was complicit in the Orlando terrorist attack, Hillary Clinton sold uranium to the Russians, the United States is allowing in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Middle East without any background checks at all, and on and on and on. So many lies that teams of fact-checkers can’t keep up any more than Ethel and Lucy could package all the chocolates.