Beverly majored in psychology and health science and has a strong interest in improving the mental, spiritual, and physical lives of others.
What is a personality disorder and does Donald Trump exhibit signs of NPD?
What is a personality disorder? Most of us probably feel like we have a personality disorder. Does that mean we are mentally unstable? Have you ever gotten upset over something that no one else seems to get upset about and if so does that mean you have a psychological disorder?
Many years ago, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder as was hysteria in women (over-reacting, crying for no apparent reason, etc.) Anxiety and depression are also considered mental disorders, yet just about all of us have had a panic attack (think back to the last time you typed up something important on the computer on a deadline and the computer shut off an you lost everything) or not been able to sleep at night for worrying about something over which you had very little control.
On the grand scale, most of us are on the brink when it comes to our personalities and behaviors, but when do they become a problem for which we need to seek treatment and does our new president exhibit signs of narcissism that go beyond a need for attention and praise and may put his own health and the safety and well-being of our nation in danger? Read ahead and decide for yourselves based on the evidence.
The key word to remember in a diagnosis of narcissism is "disorder". We are all self-centered at times, but having a disorder means it interferes in your daily life and impacts negatively on the lives of those around you.
Here are the symptoms of NPD according to the American Psychiatric Association:
- Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
- Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
- Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
- Needing constant admiration from others
- Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
- Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
- Unwilling to empathize with others' feelings, wishes, or needs
- Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
- Pompous and arrogant demeanor
Sound like any current sitting president we know? It is a bit alarming that our current president exhibits all the signs of a personality disorder, but does that make him unfit to be president?
When does narcissism become a problem?
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder generally lack empathy for others and are power-seeking, displaying arrogance and disdain for those who disagree with them. These are not traits of a "great" president or a great nation.
People with NPD often fail to see why it is a problem. They see themselves as being strong and self confident and capable of getting things done, These may be seen as positive characteristics by the narcissist and the people who admire him, but if left unchecked, the fragile ego of the narcissist can lead to an intolerance of criticism and belittling anyone who fails to validate his or her own superiority. Sound familiar?
Psychiatrists say that symptoms of narcissism usually start in adolescence and are fairly common among most teenagers without becoming a major problem for anyone other than parents and teachers who are struggling to keep teenagers realistic without squashing their grandiose dreams of greatness.
NPD goes beyond feelings of being the best sometimes and feeling like you can do anything because you are smarter and stronger and begins to become a problem when it remains persistent and constant over time.
Symptoms often impair the ability to form meaningful relationships with others and impair a person's ability to function normally in the workforce as well. Being the boss of a company makes these symptoms less dysfunctional unless of course all your employees quit or do not care to do a good job because of your actions. Indeed, many management positions seem to be full of narcissistic individuals who take credit for others work and push for greater improvements, not caring who they crush in the process. In many cases, bully bosses are desired and if companies thrive with them at the head, then few critics will aim to stop them.
Because traits of narcissism can benefit leaders, they are often accepted as good qualities not bad, but when those delusions of grandeur persist when things are going downhill rather than up and more problems are created than are solved, then it becomes a problem and taking a wait and see attitude may make the situation even worse.
Is there a treatment for NPD?
Interestingly, there is no medication that will treat symptoms of narcissism but psychotherapy has been shown to help. Talk therapy that helps the narcissist learn to relate to others on a more intimate level, understanding external motivating factors, causes of emotional turmoil and the negative reactions associated with distrust of anyone trying to undermine your goals is part of the treatment.
Changing one's personality is never an easy thing to do and the underlying causes of personality development will always exist even if you recognize them and attempt to understand their power over you. Regulating your feelings is as hard to do as regulating your response to those feelings. You may feel angry, but you do not have to yell or belittle others and that is something all of us, not just the president could gain benefit in doing more often.
Self-esteem is something that should come from within. Otherwise it would be called, others-esteem, so part of learning to regulate emotions and responses begins by seeing the faults in yourself rather than in others and taking responsibility for those flaws in your own character and seeing how they impact on those around you.
It takes many years of therapy to overcome any adverse condition, mental or physical and it takes a conscious effort and strong desire to control those negative influences. If behaving badly yields more rewards than controlling bad behavior, there is little incentive to change and the hardest thing for a narcissist to do is to empathize or place themselves in the situation of others rather than imagine themselves above others and therefor better by comparison.
There is no doubt that Trump is a narcissist, but does he have a mental disorder?
Most of us have felt like we have a mental disorder at some point in time. If you have ever lost your temper and yelled at a friend, taken over a project because you thought you could do it better and did not care about the feelings of those who might get hurt until after they were hurt, you may understand better what it is like to "go off the deep end". The difference between doing something wrong and regretting it and doing something wrong and being proud of it, determines which is a character flaw and temporary failure to do the right thing and having a psychological disorder.
In short, if you act badly and feel badly for having done so, you are perfectly normal, especially if you have the fortitude to say you were wrong and apologize and work harder to do the right thing. If you avoid all criticism, refuse to see anyone else's view other than your own and those who agree with you and you do physical or psychological harm to someone and have no sympathy for them, then you may indeed have a disorder and need to seek treatment.
Rather than fear or hate the new president, instead encourage him to seek help and encourage others not to support his narcissism as good, but to encourage him to seek therapy. Self-importance is something we all seek to some degree, but if we gain it by destroying others and see them as beneath us rather than having equal importance then we are not great leaders, we are broken people who need fixing for our sake and the sake of the nation.
What do you think? Is Trump a narcissist? Does he have a disorder? Do you approve of how he is doing things or do you think there is a kinder more gentler way to approach the world's problems while still sticking to strong convictions?
Do you think President Trump displays symptoms of NPD?
Beverly English (author) from Savannah on January 28, 2017:
Years ago I did a piece on bully bosses and why they were revered by companies because they got the work done. When you have millions of people seeing these traits as worthy of praise rather than needing correction then the person will see nothing wrong with what they are doing and cite that if all these people "love" them then it is YOU who have the problem not them.
Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on January 27, 2017:
Well-presented and informative article about the traits of NPD. You raise excellent questions about the new president. Short of diagnosing the president, I will say that it is impossible to ignore the number of behavioral and personality traits displayed by him on a daily basis.
Beverly English (author) from Savannah on January 27, 2017:
I know many who divorced over such issues. It is a major and often overlooked problem. Most men who are narcisssts do not see themselves as having a problem and blame everyone else for their unhappiness. Hope he gets help.
JR Krishna from India on January 27, 2017:
At this point I am not really thinking of President. I think I know someone having the exact characteristics you have described.
He has problems in his relationships. His wife, my friend, says he is even jealous about his own children's achievements. At times it is hard to differentiate whether he has an inflated ego or a low self esteem.
His wife is struggling to adjust as it is like riding a roller coaster of emotions for her.
Thanks for the interesting post.