Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016--Narcissism

In an insightful column in Friday's New York Times, "The Unity Illusion," David Brooks gets it right.

He argues that there are two fundamental reasons why it is unlikely (he feels impossible) that Donald Trump will be able to, perhaps have a genuine interest in seeking unity with mainstream Republicans. Those, anyway, such as Paul Ryan, who are more or less true conservatives.

First, because Trump is not a conservative since conservatives, to Brooks, unlike Trump--
. . . believe that politics is a limited activity. Culture, psychology, and morality come first. What happens in the family, neighborhood, houses of worship and the heart is more fundamental and important than what happens in a legislature.
Ah, if only true, I would consider becoming a conservative Republican. But then I would have a problem with Republican-dominated legislatures interfering, when self-interested or pandering, in the private lives of women, minorities, low-income, and gay people. But this subject is for another time.

More interesting and persuasive is Brooks second point-- that
. . . Trump by his very essence, undermines cooperation, reciprocity, solidarity or any other component of unity.
This is because, psycho-history time, he is afflicted with a  personality disorder--alexithymia, clinical narcissism. This means that Trump is unable--
. . . to identify and describe emotions in the self. Suffers have no inner voice to understand their own feelings and reflect honestly on their own actions. 
Unable to to know themselves, or truly love themselves, they hunger for a never-ending supply of admiration from outside. They act at all times like they are performing before a crowd and cannot rest unless they are in the spotlight. 
To make decisions, these narcissists create a rigid set of external standards, often based on simple division--winners and losers, victory or humiliation. They are preoccupied with luxury, appearance or anything that signals wealth, beauty, power and success. . . . 
Incapable of understanding themselves, they are also incapable of having empathy for others. They simply do not know what it feels like to put themselves in another's shoes. Other people are simply to be put to use as suppliers of admiration or as victims to be crushed as part of some dominance display. 
This all derives from Christopher Lasch's 1979 book, The Culture of Narcissism, which presciently argued that much of American culture was trending in this clinical direction. Nearly 30 years later we see all around us the living proof of that. Not just among nominated and elected officials.

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