By Grizzled Bipolar Veteran (Survivor of Personality Disordered Parents)
Since a malignant narcissist wormed his way into the White House and is wreaking devastation on a daily basis, I often hear people ask questions like, “How could someone do that?” Or, “Could someone really be that cruel?” Or, “Is he really that dangerous?”
As a person having been in spiritual recovery from Bipolar Disorder for several years, having been raised by parents with personality disorders, and having spent hours upon hours talking to clinicians about various aspects, behaviors, tendencies, and so forth of people with personality disorders, my answers to those three questions are:
- He can do it because he has extremely limited empathy and is extremely ego driven, despite being incredibly insecure.
- Yes, a malignant narcissist is extremely cruel because of their empathy deficiency, extreme self-centeredness, and “life or death” need to avenge any real or perceived attack to their fragile to non-existent self-esteem.
- Yes, Donald Trump really is that dangerous. Based on my experiences, the trappings of civilization, creature comforts that he enjoys, and fear of consequences are the only checks preventing him from committing more overt and immediate harmful acts.
And that barely scratches the surface of the nature, tendencies, and “coping” strategies that people with pathological/malignant personality disorders (there are 10 different PD’s in the DSM-V: I am confining my discussion here to people with PD’s who cause willful harm to others on a consistent basis) manifest.
Most of this short piece will be based on my anecdotal and experiential evidence, coupled with years of talking to clinicians and autodidactic pursuits. It is not scholarly. I am writing it as a cautionary tale to those who seem to be unaware that there are “monsters among us.” And that they include “everyday” people. Not just serial killers or violent offenders who wind up in prison. In fact, many CEO’s and politicians who rise to power, like Trump, do so in part because they aren’t “hobbled” by empathy or compassion.
In fact, psychologist Dr. M. Scott Peck of The Road Less Travelled fame also wrote a book entitled, People of the Lie in which he characterized the personality-disordered who live in our midst in a powerful and lucid way. And concluded, with a persuasive argument, that they are truly evil human beings.
Living with an individual with a malignant personality disorder equates to being a hostage. My childhood and subsequent adult understanding of it taught me that. Much like PD parents raising children, Trump has taken our nation hostage.
Within the hostage-holding dynamics, the person with the malignant PD utilizes a variety of tactics to sustain their egos, maintain control, and prevent dissent. These tactics have an extremely toxic impact on the “hostages,” whether it occurs on the micro scale that I experienced as a child, or on the nationwide, macro scale we are experiencing today.
Here are some of the characteristics of malignants and tactics employed by those with malignant personality disorders:
(And remember, these are deeply ingrained patterns of behavior, imposed frequently and consistently over the malignant’s lifetime).
- Gas-lighting: is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief (Wikipedia). Prime example: “Fake News”
- Shaming: Demeaning, degrading verbal attacks that assault the core value of an individual or group, asserting or implying they are worthless, incompetent, useless, etc. Boosts the ego of the malignant PD.
- Eroding Self-Esteem: to create perceived dependence and to weaken the will to escape or fight back
- Pathological Lying: the truth and reality are their enemies, as they are paths to freedom
- Emotional Blackmail: If you do this, I will love you. If you don’t do this, I won’t love you. Your country is abysmal. Align yourself with me and I will “Make American Great Again.”
- Outright Extortion: Pay to build my ego wall or I will destroy the lives of 800,000 young Latino Americans.
- Impulsive/Reckless Behavior: Road rage, stalking, capricious acts that adversely impact the well-being of others. Playing mutually assured destruction “chicken” with another malignant PD.
- Abusive Behavior: Whether it be verbal, physical, or sexual, it is used by the malignant to impose their will, retain control, boost their ego, or sate their desires. Without regard to the harm caused to others.
- An Enormous Sense of Entitlement: Everything is owed to the malignant PD. No gratitude. Zero concern for the needs of others.
- No Remorse: A lifetime of bankruptcies, sexual assault, compulsive lying, cheating, swindling, grifting, fear and hate mongering, inciting violence, white supremacy, and more-either denied or celebrated as “wins.”
- Always about Them: The pathological PD is almost always a victim or a “champion.” The universe revolves around them and the rest of us are just objects to be used at their discretion.
- Thin-Skinned: Their egos are so fragile that there is hell to pay anytime they perceive a slight or attack.
- Human Tornadoes: They leave a trail of emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or financial damage in their wake throughout their lives, NEVER taking responsibility for their actions, making amends, or cleaning up their messes. Denial and blame are their staples.
- Divisiveness and Hatred: They fear inclusion, as divide and conquer is one of their primary tactics to maintain control and “win.” Love is a foreign concept to them, so they foment the passion of hatred, which also serves to divide and conquer.
- Normalizing the Abnormal: Over time, the malignant PD wears their hostage(s) down to the point that they start identifying toxic abuse, extremism, and harmful behaviors as “normal.” That’s the normalization that is taking place in the US right now by a depraved, thin-skinned, hateful, crazy-Tweeting man-child.
Clinicians and researchers speculate that about 4% of the population is born without a conscience, and hence are malignant PD’s. That equates to about 300,000 people in our world at any given time.
If you are a hostage to one of them in a parent-child relationship, a romantic relationship, or, as in the case of the United States, an illegitimately installed leader-populace relationship, you are subject to any and all of the tactics of bullying and psychological terrorism that these malignant personalities throw at you. And generally, it is a fairly constant barrage.
Wave after wave of emotional and spiritual toxicity spewed by a these psychological terrorists are searingly painful, causing deep and lasting wounds to the psyche. They include but are not limited to:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Internalized Shame
- Ceasing to Trust One’s Own Intuition and Thoughts
- Stockholm Syndrome
- Cultish Adoration
- Abandonment of Personal Values
Toxic psychological terrorists, with the prevailing example being the malignant narcissist residing in the White House, will continue to use, abuse, harm, and parasitically drain their hostages until they are stopped. They have no moral compass, conscience, empathy, or compassion to motivate them to stop. Their needs and capacities to harm others to sustain their twisted psyches are nearly infinite.
To maintain or regain one’s sanity and self-esteem, whether it be on a personal or on a national level, the hostage(s) need to break free from the grip of the psychological terrorist. Ongoing captivity and exposure only worsens the damage and causes more.
Right now, America, we are in just such a situation. And we must use one or more the Constitutional mechanisms to break free of a malignant narcissist. Or follow the example of South Korea and take to the streets en masse until he is removed. Our nation’s soul and psyche are at stake.