The first time I saw one…
Well, maybe it was the second time, the first time being when I heard him get nasty on the phone with his brother. But it always has to start somewhere… and this is when I started noticing the occasional temper tantrum or slightly worse. Only I had no idea that these were red flags warning me of what was hidden inside him, what was coming down the pike.
One night a friend (the only friend I ever met honestly) stopped by. While watching TV, my boyfriend drank too much Moscato, and the moment his friend left, he went berserk on me. He accused me of flirting with his friend, adamant that my eyes were constantly on him and that I’d positioned my legs, spread apart, in a seductive manner when seated on the couch. Huh? Where was I when my legs were doing this?!?
I know what I like. And I know what I don’t like. I didn’t find his friend attractive in the slightest, there was nothing for me to hide, he was dead wrong. But he wouldn’t believe me, and things started to get physical with him pushing me, and he suddenly grabbed and threw my DVD player on the ground, breaking it. The screaming resulted in my neighbors banging on the walls from both beside and below me. Eventually things de-escalated, and I slept on the couch.
The following morning, he blamed his behavior on the alcohol and his insecurities related to cheating. He promised that he wouldn’t drink again, and he didn’t, at least not with me present, for the next few months. That was the first time he accused me of being drawn to infidelity. That was the first time he went off on me, too. It was shocking because the amount of venom in his voice and how quickly he got physical wasn’t something I had ever expected. Being aware of his rough past, and knowing that alcohol doesn’t mix well with some people, I rationalized his outburst. Plus he stayed true to his word about drinking, only he didn’t tell me he did other things also when I was working…
Soon to follow, initially every once in a while, he’d bring up the cheating topic. It tended to occur out of nowhere, mid-sentence when I was discussing something else. He’d state (as fact) things like, “I know you’ve slept with him” regarding a stranger. Or he’d ask me questions that showed he was suspicious of me cheating. I wasn’t cheating, I wasn’t considering cheating, and I was so (physically) attracted to him that I couldn’t think of anyone else in that light. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t grasp that concept – that I was in love, and that my heart was for him only. He had this profound effect on me, God knows why, but it was like he somehow got me addicted to him early on, during the first few times we hung out, and I was hooked thereafter.
Another oddity to me was that he insisted he knew the “type” of guys I found attractive; I found him attractive, and he was young-looking, in-shape, and black. He, on the other hand, often liked white, older (10 to 20 years) men. He’d always state I was attracted to, or had been with, the types of guys he went for. It didn’t make sense, nor did his insistence that he knew what was going on in my head with his claims of certainty – he didn’t – he couldn’t, because he was always wrong with his suspicions. I started getting rather annoyed the more he brought this cheating topic up. Soon these once-in-a-blue-moon accusations became more frequent.
He always stated his concerns as pure fact – “I know that…,” it was never “I think that, or I worry that…,” but rather addressed as solid fact. I’d explain in a logical manner why he should doubt himself. I’d say things like, “If I was going to cheat, it wouldn’t be with that guy at all, you know me well enough to know the type of guys I find attractive. He’d look like you, so find a twin and go accuse me of having a wondering eye with him,not with your freaking father, OK?”
But then it would happen yet again, and I found it flat out insulting: I’m not interested in the old, fat dude, get it through your head! It was like he couldn’t accept that people were different than him; he could only see the world through his eyes, he couldn’t accept life was different to each one of us. As the accusations became even more frequent, and more annoying, I, was just as guilty of seeing the world through my eyes only, as well. I was certain that by showing him proof he would stop, he’d have to accept reality and move on, that he could understand logic and reason. So let’s say he claimed I was out with a guy having lunch, then I’d take pictures while I was out with my best girlfriend, time/date stamped with my smart phone.
I’d show him the evidence, which I thought was irrefutable: “I couldn’t have been there, because I was in the suburbs, you can see my receipt from the gas station with date and time.” I started keeping mementos from everywhere I went anticipating he’d say something. At first it seemed to work, or so he made me believe. I also believed that showering him with love, telling him how beautiful he was, and bringing him little gifts like chocolates or shoes when I had extra cash would clearly show him: I love you, I love you, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing these things for you. It wasn’t like he was doing much for me except complaining about everything under the sun. There were many times when he’d concur, he’d acknowledge that he was overreacting; he’d suggest he knew the accusations were just paranoia.
Then there were other times when he seemed dead-set that they were true. I didn’t understand this at all; but I did believe, at the end of the day, my love for him was more than evident, and that love would prevail, it had to, that’s how things worked in life; at least in my world they did. I believed his insecurities stemmed from his childhood ruined by cheating, from past relationships ruined by cheating, all of which was rearing its ugly head in our relationship. I knew he had “issues;” but so did I, I waited until 33 to actually become sexual, which is quite odd. I was also insecure clearly, and knowing I was far from perfect, I didn’t expect him to be perfect. But being kind and respectful – that I did expect. And this suspicious bullshit over nothing was starting to make me snap at the slightest mention of anything.
I’d heard many times in my life: cheaters always are the ones accusing others of cheating. But not once during our relationship did I worry that he would cheat. No way, not after all he shared with me that first night we met, not after how paranoid he behaved about me being a cheater. I honestly believed that out of all things in the world, the very last thing he’d ever do was cheat. That was the one finite tenant he stood behind with such conviction, and I believed him. I trusted him. Plus he always referenced his strong belief in karma:
If I ever cheated, karma would come back and haunt me 10 times fold.
He mentioned karma in regards to just about everything; karma was always “why” he wouldn’t do certain things, because it would come back to haunt him.
I didn’t really believe in karma – but I liked that he did, because I thought his superstition kept him in check. I believed the statements he made. Why? Because I didn’t make statements I didn’t stand behind, and I assumed he worked the same way. Another night, he was talking to a friend on the phone. He’d purchased a plane tickets months back to go to some event in New Orleans. His friend did, as well, and had told him he could stay with him for free in his hotel room. But his friend changed his mind, and when I overhead him talking to this guy on the phone I was taken aback by what he said and how he said it:
Fine, go fuck yourself then. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer, I may not see you at the festival, but I’ll be seeing your ass in court!
HUH?!?! I was shocked and confronted him on what and why he’d said what he did. He deflected my comments with tears, sobbing about how poor he was, and how he’d be throwing away $300 on the plane ticket.
I thought he was really upset at that time, I held him and told him not to worry about it. But I was surprised to find his behavior increasingly becoming juvenile. I knew, however, for quite some time already that he could behave like a diva at times, that he felt slightly entitled to things because he was hot and hung like a horse. I thought these annoyances were a sign of some insecurities and a trade-off for having an overly attractive partner. I thought I knew what was going on, and in reality I knew nothing, I didn’t even know the guy I was living with, who I’d professed my love to, I didn’t know that life can turn against you, and I never dreamed that nightmares really do come true.
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Donald Trump’s malignant narcissism is toxic: Psychologist
If you take President Trump’s words literally, you have no choice but to conclude that he is psychotic. A delusion is “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.” Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump asserts that his New York office was bugged by President Obama, and that his inauguration had the biggest crowd size in history. Before the election, Right Wing Watch published a list of 58 conspiracies proclaimed by Trump.
Is it all for effect, to rile up his base, deflect blame and distract from his shortcomings, or does Trump really believe the insane things he says? It’s often hard to know, because as Harvard psychoanalyst Lance Dodes put it, Trump tells two kinds of lies: the ones he tells others to scam them, and those he tells himself. “He lies because of his sociopathic tendencies,” Dodes said. “There’s also the kind of lying he has that is in a way more serious, that he has a loose grip on reality.” Is he crazy like a fox or just plain crazy? Not a question we want to be asking about our president.
Much has been written about Trump having narcissistic personality disorder. As critics have pointed out, merely saying a leader is narcissistic is hardly disqualifying. But malignant narcissism is like a malignant tumor: toxic.
Psychoanalyst and Holocaust survivor Erich Fromm, who invented the diagnosis of malignant narcissism, argues that it “lies on the borderline between sanity and insanity.” Otto Kernberg, a psychoanalyst specializing in borderline personalities, defined malignant narcissism as having four components: narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personality and sadism. Trump exhibits all four.
His narcissism is evident in his “grandiose sense of self-importance … without commensurate achievements.” From viewing cable news, he knows “more about ISIS than the generals” and believes that among all human beings on the planet, “I alone can fix it.” His “repeated lying,” “disregard for and violation of the rights of others” (Trump University fraud and multiple sexual assault allegations) and “lack of remorse” meet the clinical criteria for anti-social personality. His bizarre conspiracy theories, false sense of victimization, and demonization of the press, minorities and anyone who opposes him are textbook paranoia. Like most sadists, Trump has been a bully since childhood, and his thousands of vicious tweets make him perhaps the most prolific cyber bully in history.
A year ago, I warned that “the idea that Trump is going to settle down and become presidential when he achieves power is wishful thinking.” Trump, like many successful people, shows biological signs of hypomania — a mild and more functional expression of bipolar genes that manifest in energy, confidence, creativity, little need for sleep, as well as arrogance, impulsivity, irritability and diminished judgment. As is often typical, when Trump has achieved great success, his hypomania has increased with disastrous consequences.
In Michael Kruse’s article “1988: the Year Donald Lost his Mind,” he wrote, “His response to his surging celebrity” after the publication of The Art of The Deal “was a series of manic, ill-advised ventures” that led to bankruptcy and divorce.
Last year, after Trump became the Republican presidential nominee, New York Times columnist David Brooks noted a similar deterioration: “With each passing week, he displays the classic symptoms of medium-grade mania in more disturbing forms: inflated self-esteem, sleeplessness, impulsivity, aggression and a compulsion to offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about.” Much has been said about Trump’s disjointed Associated Press interview last month. As Brooks wrote, “Manics display something called ‘flight of ideas.’ It’s a formal thought disorder in which ideas tumble forth through a disordered chain of associations. One word sparks another, which sparks another …”
One symptom of hypomania is impulsivity. Seventy-two hours after Trump saw upsetting pictures of gassed Syrian children, he launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Assad regime. Whether Trump guessed right or wrong, sudden lethal moves that reverse his longstanding policy are disturbing. “Acting on instinct, Trump upends his own Syria policy” was the headline in The Times. Its analysis said the president’s advisers “were clearly uncomfortable with the suggestion that Mr. Trump was acting impulsively.” As Ezra Klein put it, “A foreign policy based on Trump’s gut reactions to the images flashing before him on cable news” is “dangerous.”
Now Trump is ratcheting up tensions to create a crisis with North Korea.
Some say it is unethical to dare to diagnose the president, but hundreds of mental health professionals have come together to found Duty To Warn. We believe that just as we are ethically and legally obligated to break confidentiality to warn a potential victim of violence, our duty to warn the public trumps all other considerations.
More than 53,000 people have signed our petition, aimed at mental health professionals, stating Trump should be removed under the 25th Amendment because he is too mentally ill to competently serve. At a conference on the Duty To Warn last month at Yale medical school, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton warned against creeping “malignant normality.” Under a malignantly narcissistic leader, alternate facts, conspiracy theories, racism, science denial and delegitimization of the press become not only acceptable but also the new normal. If we do not confront this evil, it will consume us.
Duty to Warn is planning a multicity March for Sanity on Oct. 7 to “make America sane again.” Hope to see you there, assuming we’re all still here.
Song #1 written by yours truly