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.
Similarly, positions on issues are not conclusions derived from analysis of facts and ideas from the perspective of some foundational political principles. Issues themselves are ephemera swirling around in his “great” mind like pieces of flotsam and jetsam in a hurricane, flashing in and out of his stream of consciousness and available to be bent into whatever position is advantageous to him at that particular point in time. The position isn’t about the issue; it’s about Trump. It’s about the self-absorbed egotism. It’s the greatness of being Trump in the moment that is the driving motivation, so positions on issues are not fixed if Trump wants to tell the story a little differently, and lies are unbad if Trump needs to tell them to keep the self-aggrandizing tale going.
Given the utter disregard for the necessity of dealing in what other people think of as “things that are true,” coupled with a similar disregard for fixed positions on issues, every Trump speech is subject to a kind of political Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in that it is not possible to measure both the momentum of the speech as Trump winds up his audience and his fixed position on any issue under discussion. If parts are true, then great! What a coincidence! If parts are not really, actually true, they should be, and that’s close enough for Trump. That’s why Trump doesn’t like to use teleprompters. The scripted speech on the teleprompter interferes with tangents he can wander down, expressing the true wonder of himself.
Another key feature of Trump’s particular personality disorder is his pronounced vindictiveness. Some Republicans wonder aloud why Trump keeps attacking other Republicans and doesn’t move on from the primaries mindset to the main-event general election. He cannot. He has been dissed not only by the effrontery of being opposed, but after the vanquishing of his enemies, they still refuse to endorse him. Intolerable! Disqualify them from ever running for office again, ban reporters who ask confrontational questions, blacklist newspapers, vow to change the libel laws so that he can sue more easily. He can’t stop and he can’t control it.
And so it goes in the Grand Old Party, which has seen fit in past elections to threaten the country with contenders to be president of the United States and leader of the free world such as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina, each of whom brought in their own coterie of followers who proved by their support that they have a very limited capacity to rationally analyze the consequences of their actions balanced by an almost unlimited degree of gullibility. Perfect marks to be conned, lied to and cheated.
We are just a few short weeks from when Chief Birther Donald Trump, an unscrupulous, amoral, vindictive, con man, sweeps into Cleveland and becomes the scariest and most profoundly unqualified person to ever be nominated by a political party in the history of the United States.
The Republican Party will pay a heavy price when America rallies against him.