Behind The Mask

Asked why he did not wear a mask when visiting a Ford plant President Trump explained he wore one earlier, “it looked good,” but he did not want to afford the press ”the pleasure ” of seeing him masked. What? His appearance? Could his looks, how he believes he looks, his self-image, be the hide-in-plain-sight clue solving the Mystery of Donald Trump? Nonsense! But yet?

We were warned. Eight months after President Donald J. Trump took office, twenty-seven psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health professions and others with hands-on Trump experience published The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. In the second edition, ten more signed on. Their consensus: Donald J. Trump exhibits pronounced symptoms of “Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Before looking at the diagnosis, it’s fair to ask, “Are these folks positioned to make the call?” If three dozen qualified mechanics certify the “OLD RELIABLE” on “Fairly Honest Don’s” lot is a “Lemon” would you buy it?  

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), “comprises a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts in early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

  • A grandiose logic of self-importance
  • A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty or idyllic love
  • A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
  • A desire for unwarranted admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonal oppressive behavior
  • No form of empathy
  • Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
  • A display of egotistical and conceited behavior or attitudes”

Self-importance, fixation on fantasies of greatness, feeling extraordinary and exceptional, desire for admiration, sense of entitlement, oppressive behavior, no empathy, resentment, egotistical and conceited, it’s 9 for 9 folks! The description of Donald J. Trump is stunning! After three years of Trump in the Oval Office, we don’t need Sigmund Freud or President of the America Psychiatric Association to make this call.

In Greek myth young Narcissus leans over a pool and, failing to recognizing himself, falls in love with his reflection. Narcissus‘s love focuses on a superficial, self-image, no depth, nothing beneath. Anything that might threaten or tarnish this fragile reflection is anathema. Secretly knowing that a pebble, breeze or thunder storm will distort or abolish him, Narcissus focuses every moment, expends every effort, keeping the surface calm, preserving, protecting and defending his self-image.

DSM5 does not use “Malignant.” Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary describes Malignant Narcissism as combining characteristics of Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders with aggression and paranoia, making the patient not only delusional but potentially dangerous!

As unmasked in the mask scenario, physical appearance is fundamental to Donald Trump’s security. It’s centerpiece: the Fabled Orange Mane. A former barber describes Donald studying himself in the mirror, supervising the clipping of each lock, the coiffeuring of each wave, the combing of each curl. The barbershop mirror is Trump’s Narcissist’s pool.

Donald’s, you may say, “god complex” extends far beyond appearance. Weaned and schooled amid the cutthroat, bare-knuckled, gutter brawls of New York City Real Estate, Donald J. Trump’s self-importance links inextricably to the appearance of financial success, of money. Underscoring this feeling, when COVID 19 shut down most of America’s economy Donald projected his fear onto America’s workers, predicting that without paychecks many would give up in suicide. To assure no one fails to recognize his financial prowess, Donald’s assets must bear or imply the “Trump” trademark: Trump Tower, Trump golf courses, Trump “billions,” three drop-dead-beautiful Trump wives and not-so-clandestine sexual conquests—all in the service of an overarching Trump ego!

Donald’s conceit knows no bounds. Seeming to rebut the Dangerous Case consensus Donald calls himself a “stable genius.” He believes he is endowed with Midas’s Touch. All he graces turns to gold. His first 100 days as president were the best in American history. Despite others’ reports, meetings routinely proceed and conclude “wonderfully.” Despite failing to vanishing through his “miracle” prediction, COVID 19 will end “with or without a vaccine” soon. As president, ”I give myself a 10.” Borrowing from the Bard, thou “dost protest too much, methinks.”

President Donald Trump’s public life is a photo-op. Nowhere more apparent than behind a microphone, clowning and showing off for his Red-Cap Minions. Visiting a lab, campaigning in the foolish Red Cap, Trump posed holding a COVID 19 photo, then glanced down to assure he had the virus’ heads up. Teargassing peaceful protesters to pose in front of a church holding a Bible is the latest, most graphic, ham-handed testament to his frightening self-adulation. Can anyone really be this shallow?

Grandiose egos demand unconditional loyalty. As evidenced in the serial rollover of Cabinet, staff and appointees, Trump’s demand for commitment is one-way. Anyone who questions his superiority is or becomes the enemy. Donald will pat you on shoulder at breakfast and stab you in the back before lunch.

Early on, the inevitability of “Let Trump be Trump” had spin-doctors scrambling. I’m reminded Warren Harding’s handlers were warned, “Keep Warren away from people. Someone with ask him a question and the dumb bastard will try to answer.”

Politician’s public lives are costumed and scripted. Before becoming president, how often did Donald Trump wear the red tie, white shirt and blue suit, as it were, wrapped in the flag? To be fair, Joe Biden shows up similarly dressed for the same Star-Spangled effect. You don’t become a United States Senator and Vice President without a pronounced sense of self, even self-importance, but Joe’s history, personality and behavior show no hint of the Malignant Narcissism so obvious in Donald JohnTrump.

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