Everyone on this side of the water is well aware of the current presidential race in the United States. I’m pretty sure countries outside of the U.S. have an ear to the wall as well. Before I dig in, I must extend the caveat that I personally have nothing against either candidate. As we all have our own ‘fleshy’ ways, I realize both candidates have their own individual and political faults. Beginning with the official end of the Republican National Convention, this has been especially evident with Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
The coverage of his unfiltered criticisms, verbal barbs, and antagonistic temperament are not just media rumors. Despite the largely negative reflection of his acceptance in all the political polls, it seems Mr. Trump cannot control himself. Objectively, it appears he’s hell bent on trying to destroy his political career. Rather than neutralize his misperceptions, address realistic U.S. policy issues, or appeal to non-Caucasian voters; it seems subjectively more important for Trump to follow his compulsion to address his perceptions of negative media coverage as personal attacks on his character content. I have started to look forward to the morning media coverage of his latest verbal foibles.
I told the students I was teaching last week that the egocentric, choleric personality Donald Trump has demonstrated during his 2016 presidential campaign is the epitome of the diagnostic criteria for a narcissistic personality disorder. Simply explained, a narcissistic personality is demonstrated by an extensive and long-term pattern of behavior related to inflated self-importance. This persona is negatively complimented by an excessively greedy need for appreciation and admiration. His media clips and news coverage will be fodder for my future lectures for years to come.
With this world-view, egocentricity skews one’s emotional IQ, which detracts from the empathy and sympathy needed to have healthy interpersonal relationships with others. An overzealous need for power and success often cover the fragile ego of a person who’s secretly insecure. In either case, their grandiose arrogance sets a high expectation for EVERYONE to treat them as superior. Whether the narcissist actually deserves such reverence is irrelevant.
Criticism (or critiques) of their quirks are akin to dropping acid on plastic, not well taken. The use of belittling is one of the mental stepladder narcissists use to Lord themselves over supporters and non-supporters. It’s a coping skill, as well as a way of life. Anyone who does not buy into this person’s faux persona is considered an antagonist or adversary.
I say all this to set the stage for why some people, friends, or family may espouse things that may be considered by the norm as cognitively dissonant. It is strange and peculiar to profess in public you love something and then privately seek to destroy it. Not only do people with personality disorders communicate from the skew of their misperceptions, it seems they also try to consciously talk people into subconsciously seeing the world from their twisted purview. Narcissists, borderline, and antisocial personality disorders are infamous for such verbal and mental manipulation. This is where neuro linguistics comes into play.
Neuro linguistics is the influence of brain behavior through the use of language and communication to recode the way a person thinks or responds to stimuli. According to Dr. Richard Bandler, it is a programming model of interpersonal communication meant to influence patterns of mental and emotional behavior. To exemplify this, I offer you a few Trumpisms and then my clinical guess at what he might be saying. The bolded fonts are the subconscious suggestives. The italic fonts are conscious oriented. Intermittently repeated, these words transition from suggestion to willful belief.
1) “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wallon our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
If I may translate: He’s saying that we should believe this wall is going to be built. We should believe not only is he a great architect/engineer but he manages money well. The axiom, “Mark my words,” is perhaps meant to reinforce trust in the belief that he is the only one able accomplish this incredulous task.
I do have one question. If this Great Wall of Mexico is so important, paying an ‘inexpensive’ cost should be enough. Why should we care he’s going to “make” Mexico pay? Maybe because of quote #2.
2) “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
TRANSLATION: Mexico is deliberately sending rapists and criminals to the United States.
3) “My Twitter has become so powerful, that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.”
TRANSLATION: He has a god-like omnipotence so powerful even the Internet bends to his will.
4) “My IQ is one of the highest and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure. It’s not your fault.”
TRANSLATION: We all know he’s smarter than us. It’s not our fault we’re insecure and dumb.
5) The latest and my personal favorite, “African-American’s lives are so miserable, I couldn’t possibly make it any worse. I mean, no health care, no education, no anything. Vote for me. What do you have to lose?”
TRANSLATION: All African-Americans are doomed to live endless loops of generational poverty and failure. Voting for Trump will be better than being so hopeless.
As an official member of this demographic, I didn’t know we were ALL doomed to such failure. I guess I should take down all the degrees and certifications that hang on my wall. The doctoral degree and state licenses that allow me to practice as a mental health clinician should go as well. I should probably go ahead and sell my Audi to buy a bullet proof vest. I didn’t realize my life was swirling down in such hopelessness.
After hearing blurbs from the book written about Trump (“Trump Revealed”) by Washington Post journalists and authors, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, it’s easy to hypothesize why Mr. Trump may have issues with his interpersonal relationships. According to their research and the social history personally given by Trump, his father didn’t really pay attention to the younger Trump until he was at an age that he could begin to interact with his father in his father’s office. It is said that Mr. Trump has repeated this type of interaction with his kids. It’s not to say that patterns of parental neglect are the cause of Trump verbal faux pas or arrogant presentation. However, I’m not ruling it out as one of many contributory factors that influence who he is today.
As a clinical psychologist and a certified hypnotherapist, I know that people don’t have to be lulled into a suggestive state of relaxation in order to influence change. Repeatedly verbalizing negative suggestions is actually more incendiary because this communication style does not require permission from a person’s subconscious to allow ideologies to be embedded. It is akin to hearing a song you don’t like repeatedly played on the radio until you find yourself unconsciously humming the tune.
Suggestion repetition can be dangerous. An actual NLP technique is to first study a person and get to know their mannerisms so you can mimic them. It causes a comfort that lessens a person’s defenses. Similar “studying” a person is also the first thing a narcissist does. Any good clinician will advise you to avoid letting a narcissist get to you. Don’t share intimate thoughts. Don’t share hopes, dreams, weaknesses, or secrets. DEFINITELY, don’t let them learn you enough to get into your head. Much like the actual NLP technique, a narcissist will lead you down a slow path to submission. Understand they will take their narcissist supply at any cost, which is usually your sanity and your soul.
Pointing this methodology out is ineffective because accountability is not their forte. It is easier to externally project their faults onto others than it is to admit their own internal weaknesses. The hypocrisy of this all is that some, if not most, narcissist use such skills to talk people into taking the blame for “their” faults. Example? After over a month of demonstrating political flip-flopping, intolerance, and non-scripted, narrow-minded statements, Mr. Trump has blatantly announced that it is his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton who is the bigot. Really?!
Listen folks, I don’t profess to personally know either candidate; nor have I known them as clients. My diagnostic social history is the public personification, moral, and work ethic that has been presented to everyone who has access to any type of social media. What I do know is that there’s a difference between the lull of a hypnosis script and mental manipulation via repetitive speech. My message is this, before you begin to sway to the rhythmic lilt of someone’s rhetoric. Consider the content of their character with people they consider ‘less than’, the cluster of their support network, and the fruit of their tree.