Friday, June 19, 2020
Donald Trump’s Way Out
People with an excess of narcissistic personality traits tend to blame others for their faults, difficulties, failures, setbacks.
They project whatever normal vulnerabilities they may have into those around them.
They evacuate them, like feces exiting the colon.
In other words, they are masters at externalizing blame.
These so-called malignant narcissists cannot handle any personal flaws— even though all humans have them. They find any deficits completely intolerable, unacceptable, impossible. Therefore, they excel at identifying, imagining or even creating, flaws in others.
They call them out—particularly when there’s any risk of their own deficits becoming known.
This is why, as you all know, Trump has had such difficulty filling cabinet level or other administrative positions.
Initially, he hires people he idealizes, calling them, for example, my generals.
Within weeks or months, they become vehicles for his negative projections.
Ultimately, they become so full of badness that he fires them.
According to a recent Brookings Institution study, the Trump administration has had greater turnover in leadership than any of the five previous presidents.
As of today, Trump has an 88 percent turnover rate.
Even more unusual, he has a serial turnover rate—meaning replacements of replacements—of 39 percent. Trump is now on his fourth chief of staff, his fifth deputy chief of staff, his fifth communications director, etc.
For more information on these statistics, check out this website:
The psychoanalytic scholar Thomas Szasz brilliantly captured this blaming, externalizing propensity when he described the difference between between patients with clinical syndromes and those with personality disorders (formerly known as character disorders).
Patients with clinical syndromes present as “sick” in some way, with anxiety, depression, relationship problems, psychophysiological symptoms and more.
Those with character disorders make others sick.
Donald Trump demonstrates the accuracy of Szasz’s statement.
Those living with people with character disorders—and some readers will immediately identify with this—will often feel anxious, depressed, angry, frustrated and more.
They carry the symptoms of the narcissist, projected out into them.
Every character flaw has an upside, though.
Fortunately for those who want this self-obsessed, uneducated, impulsive, vulgar president voted out, Trump has ever mounting reasons for blaming the failure of his presidency on others.
One can imagine Trump attributing his November election loss to:
- The Covid-19 pandemic.
- The resultant economic downturn.
- China which not only unfairly trades with us but created the Covid-19 virus in a Wuhan biological weapons lab.
- At least two unexpectedly liberal Supreme Court decisions (prohibiting employment discrimination against homosexuals or transgendered individuals and preventing the deportation of immigrants under the deferred action for childhood arrivals act [DACA]. He helped promote conservative judges to the supreme court; how could he be blamed for their decisions after that point?)
- The awful, biased media. Trump repeatedly blames Fake News, despite journalism’s well-established place as the fourth estate of our democracy. In March, he tweeted: The LameStream Media will be detrimental to my election success.
- Barack Obama, his predecessor, who remains one of the most popular Americans in history, and who Trump blames for every problem from North Korea to the lack of preparation for the pandemic.
- The failure of allied nations to sufficiently contribute to the UN or the NATO alliance.
- The failure of the CDC as well as the WHO in preparing for the virus.
- A racist society existing before he was elected.
When asked about his administration’s response to the novel Coronavirus on March 13th, Trump responded:
I don’t take responsibility at all.
The Atlantic Monthly predicts this phrase will be the epitaph of Trump’s presidency.
Who could disagree?
And, no wonder.
Trump’s verbal blame-statement, uttered at a press conference, sums up, with precision and brevity, Donald Trump’s unbelievably consistent capacity for externalizing blame.
Where’s the good news here?
These imaginary grievances allow Trump a graceful way to exit.
Of course, no one will believe he’s gone until the results of the November election are announced.
But, meanwhile, and assuming he’s voted out by a landslide, Trump will have at least these already well-established (by him) reasons to broadly repeat his favorite phrase:
I don’t take responsibility at all.
Szasz, T. (1988). The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
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