Sunday, 28 March 2021

Trumpanzee News - Explaining Donald Trump's Narcissistic Personality Disorder

US Presidential reject, Donald J Trump.
Acute Narcissistic personality disorder personified
Narcissism Driven by Insecurity, Not Grandiose Sense of Self, New Psychology Research Shows

A psychology paper published a few days ago by researchers at New York University, sheds some light on Donald Trump's self-evident Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Although it doesn't name his as such, it could be describing his personality and idiosyncratic behaviour.

The open access paper shows how NPD is not driven by an inflated sense of self-worth but by insecurity and self-loathing in disguise. The question is then, what in his background caused this self-loathing in Donald Trump? We would almost certainly have to go back into his childhood and probably his relationship with his, by all accounts, particularly unpleasant and odious, psychopathic father.

From the NYU news release:

Narcissism is driven by insecurity, and not an inflated sense of self, finds a new study, which offers a more detailed understanding of this long-examined phenomenon and may also explain what motivates the self-focused nature of social media activity.


Photo credit: Cn0ra
Narcissism is driven by insecurity, and not an inflated sense of self, finds a new study by a team of psychology researchers. Its research, which offers a more detailed understanding of this long-examined phenomenon, may also explain what motivates the self-focused nature of social media activity.

“For a long time, it was unclear why narcissists engage in unpleasant behaviors, such as self-congratulation, as it actually makes others think less of them,” explains Pascal Wallisch, a clinical associate professor in both New York University’s Department of Psychology and Center for Data Science and the senior author of the paper, which appears in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. “This has become quite prevalent in the age of social media—a behavior that’s been coined ‘flexing’.

For a long time, it was unclear why narcissists engage in unpleasant behaviors, such as self-congratulation, as it actually makes others think less of them. This has become quite prevalent in the age of social media—a behavior that’s been coined ‘flexing’. Our work reveals that these narcissists are not grandiose, but rather insecure, and this is how they seem to cope with their insecurities.

Pascal Wallisch, Senior author
A clinical associate professor
Department of Psychology and Center for Data Science
New York University, NY, USA
“Our work reveals that these narcissists are not grandiose, but rather insecure, and this is how they seem to cope with their insecurities.”

“More specifically, the results suggest that narcissism is better understood as a compensatory adaptation to overcome and cover up low self-worth,” adds Mary Kowalchyk, the paper’s lead author and an NYU graduate student at the time of the study. “Narcissists are insecure, and they cope with these insecurities by flexing. This makes others like them less in the long run, thus further aggravating their insecurities, which then leads to a vicious cycle of flexing behaviors.”

The survey’s nearly 300 participants—approximately 60 percent female and 40 percent male—had a median age of 20 and answered 151 questions via computer.

More specifically, the results suggest that narcissism is better understood as a compensatory adaptation to overcome and cover up low self-worth.

Mary Kowalchyk, Lead author
Graduate student
NYU, NY, USA
The researchers examined Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), conceptualized as excessive self-love and consisting of two subtypes, known as grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. A related affliction, psychopathy, is also characterized by a grandiose sense of self. They sought to refine the understanding of how these conditions relate.

To do so, they designed a novel measure, called PRISN (Performative Refinement to soothe Insecurities about SophisticatioN), which produced FLEX (perFormative seLf-Elevation indeX). FLEX captures insecurity-driven self-conceptualizations that are manifested as impression management, leading to self-elevating tendencies.

The PRISN scale includes commonly used measures to investigate social desirability (“No matter who I am talking to I am a good listener”), self-esteem (“On the whole, I am satisfied with myself”), and psychopathy (“I tend to lack remorse”). FLEX was shown to be made up of four components: impression management (“I am likely to show off if I get the chance”), the need for social validation (“It matters that I am seen at important events''), self-elevation (“I have exquisite taste”), and social dominance (“I like knowing more than other people”).

Overall, the results showed high correlations between FLEX and narcissism—but not with psychopathy. For example, the need for social validation (a FLEX metric) correlated with the reported tendency to engage in performative self-elevation (a characteristic of vulnerable narcissism). By contrast, measures of psychopathy, such as elevated levels of self-esteem, showed low correlation levels with vulnerable narcissism, implying a lack of insecurity. These findings suggest that genuine narcissists are insecure and are best described by the vulnerable narcissism subtype, whereas grandiose narcissism might be better understood as a manifestation of psychopathy.
Diagramatic representation of FLEX.
Note the corelation between FLEX and Trump's characteristics.

Highlights

  • Narcissism has been fundamentally misunderstood.
  • We developed a FLEX scale that captures genuinely narcissistic behavior.
  • Psychopaths do exhibit high levels of grandiosity.
  • Narcissism is not self-love, it is self-loathing in disguise.

Abstract

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is conceptualized as excessive self-love and divided into subtypes known as grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Psychopathy is also characterized by a grandiose sense of self. Here, we aim to refine the understanding of how these conditions relate. We developed a scale to assess performative self-elevation (FLEX), designed to probe insecurity driven self-conceptualizations that manifest as impression management lead to self-elevating tendencies. We correlated the FLEX scale with commonly used measures to investigate social desirability, self-esteem, and psychopathy in a high-powered sample of participants. We find that FLEX correlates highly with narcissism, but not psychopathy. We conclude that narcissism corresponds most closely to vulnerable narcissism and is characterized by self-elevating behaviors that are well captured by FLEX.

Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump's narcissism threw the problem of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder into stark relief, provoking several articles on the disorder in the scientific literature and online sources such as Psychology Today, one even showing how the disorder was a risk factor for Covid-19.

I have previously written about how Trump's inability to admit to being wrong and his refusal to accept that others know more than he does, led him to refuse to admit that he had misjudged the seriousness of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, when he refused to admit he didn't understand the science and so decided to take the easy option and do nothing, then tried to cover up and brazen out his mistake by down-playing the virus, bullying officials and experts, and politicising the whole thing. The result was the USA became the major epicentre of the pandemic and accounted for 25% of all cases worldwide, with his re-election rallies and services in fundamentalist churches (who almost invariably supported him) becoming super-spreader events, while social distancing and wearing face-masks were taken as signs of disloyalty to Trump.

This paper characterises the NPD in terms which map almost exactly onto Donald Trump's personality and modus operandum. For example:
  • Explicit Impression Management.
    He constantly and repeatedly boasted about being the best at almost everything, even claiming at the start of the pandemic that he was a medical expert and would have been a doctor if he hadn't chosen business and politics. In fact, as his later comments showed, he had only minimal understanding of the science.
  • Need for Social Validation. He demanded uncritical praise and adoration of his colleagues, who suffered if they dared to disagree. for example, his embarrassing eulogising of the North Korean despot, Kim Yong-un, who expressed his admiration for Trump, and his declaration that he believed Vladimir Putin's denial of any interference in the 2012 presidential election, despite his own security services having evidence showing otherwise.
  • Social Dominance.
    Trump has a need to be the dominant figure in any social group he is involved with. His idiotic interventions at the coronavirus briefings made the scientists and medical experts cringe with embarrassment, but Trump had to try to show he was the best of the bunch, with a complete lack of self-awareness and understanding of the subject. In the end, his behaviour made the briefings worthless and they were discontinued, so losing a valuable opportunity to educate and inform the public.
  • Self-Elevation.
    Trump repeatedly tried to present himself as the best at everything, often boasting in his social media accounts how great he was and what a fantastic job he was doing, as the death toll mounted, American society became more divided and the economy collapsed. Eventually, having been rejected by the largest ever popular vote for his rival for the presidency, he refused to accept that he had really lost and became increasingly paranoid and deranged in his conspiracy theories about stolen elections and massive dumps of illegal votes.

    In the end, and as a final desperate last attempt at self-elevation and social dominance, he encouraged a violent coup d’état attempt by his cult to retain the power he assumed to be his by right.
Donald Trump's dangerously narcissistic personality is a personality/mental disorder that makes it imperative he be marginalised and denied the power he still craves. His conviction in the courts for his many criminal acts whilst in power, not the least of which were tax evasion in New York and attempting to interfere in the election process in Georgia, which are state crimes, so not subject to a presidential pardon, would effectively disbar him from holding high office ever again.








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