Donald Trump is a narcissist – diagnostically so. Narcissists tend to exude a sense of self-importance, show a lack of empathy, and have a profound need for admiration. (Trump cannot build anything without putting his name on it!) A narcissist also typically believes they are special and unique and they tend to exude a sense of entitlement - the individual believes they deserve special treatment. They also frequently exhibit arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes. Another little known fact about narcissists is their capacity to show contempt. If someone disagrees with them (in other words, doesn’t show them the admiration they feel they deserve), they’ll show contempt by eviscerating the other person. People witnessed this during the Fox News debate when Trump criticized the female moderator after she asked a challenging question. Narcissists cannot help themselves and, even on national television, Trump could not either. Ironically, narcissists are popular at first. It’s only later that they get into difficulty interpersonally. And because of a narcissist’s high levels of grandiosity and superiority to others, they eventually have trouble with any type of long-term relationship. Individuals who are in relationship to a narcissist eventually feel exploited. (How many times has Trump been married?)
If Donald Trump were a certified narcissist, why would he be polling so well as a potential President of the United States? Why aren’t more people actually disturbed by his interpersonal dynamics? I’d like to address that question with a two-fold answer. I’ll provide a superficial answer first. Then, in Part 2, I’ll try and address the question from a deeper, analytic point of view.
A recent study done by Back et. al (2010) provides a possible answer as to why Trump is polling so well at the moment. In the study, 73 college freshmen that had never met each other took turns standing up in front of the room and introducing themselves. They were then asked how likable each speaker was and how much they’d like to get to know the speaker better. Interestingly enough, it was the most narcissistic students (they were tested and scored high on a questionnaire) that were better liked. And not only that but the type of narcissism that scored the highest on likeability was the most malignant kind, meaning the type of narcissist that actually enjoyed manipulating and exploiting people. It was the manipulators and exploiters who were the most popular when they introduced themselves!
Interesting right? But I bet you're still wondering how in the world can this be? It’s actually quite simple. The malignant narcissistic tend to exude four attractive characteristics when you first meet them. They have charming facial expressions, they dress well, they can be verbally witty and find unforgettable ways to introduce themselves, and their body language tends to be self-assured. They are also often very successful. Unconsciously, we humans feel naturally drawn to these characteristics when we first meet someone. When someone exudes an air of self confidence, is interesting to talk to, or seems successful, we naturally TEND to like them and feel drawn to them.
(To be Continued)