Pathological emotional or psychological disorders are present in many individuals in varying degrees. While persons with mental disorders appear throughout society even in positions of responsibility in the workplace, this may be the first time that Americans have elected a president who is astounding the nation with his erratic and unstable behavior.
During the presidential campaign, mental health professionals began to warn of this candidate’s potential danger to the nation if elected to high office, but many of these professionals felt constrained by the Goldwater Rule that declared it unethical for any psychiatrist to make diagnostic proclamations about an individual without prior examination.
This is changing. The danger to the United States and its people is too great to be silent anymore, and psychologists and psychiatrists have been speaking up in alarm about the man that the electoral college of the United States has elected to the highest office in the land. He is being described as having a narcissistic personality disorder, the characteristics of which include:
- Showing an inflated sense of self importance
- A need to be admired
- A lack of empathy for other people
- Inability to tolerate criticism
Some have gone further and described the pattern of behavior seen in the president as “malignant narcissism,” an unofficial diagnosis that additionally includes the traits of a sociopath:
- Cannot feel shame
- Is impulsive, speaks and acts without concern for consequences
- Feels entitled to whatever is desired
- Does not feel grateful or loyal to anyone
- Claims to be a winner even though evidence of loss is clear
- Blames others for own errors and failures
- Threatened by subordinates who are perceived as shining stars
- Views the world as black and white, us vs them, me vs everyone else
- Always ready to attack
The United States is certainly not the only nation to have leaders in high places (whether in government or in companies) who fit this profile.
There doesn’t seem to be any cure for this condition/illness/behavior. So, what do you do if you find yourself caught in the web of a malignant narcissist? First, and most important, read all you can find about this condition and understand it thoroughly. That will chart your course going forward, and I cannot emphasize this enough. In the case of the malignant narcissist, it may be imperative for YOUR OWN SURVIVAL to understand what you are up against. Here are a few guidelines:
- Remember that this person is protecting a very fragile ego. You do NOT want to threaten it.
- Let him think that your good ideas are his own.
- Use flattering statements when appropriate.
- Do not distort reality even when faced with his delusions, because it may come back to haunt you later. Work around it.
- Cultivate the family members that are still in his good graces, because he sees them as his own property, as extensions of himself. Do not criticize them, but understand that they have learned how to live within an orbit that he finds acceptable.
Always have a Plan B … an exit plan. The odds are high that you may not be in your current position very long. If you are fearful, get out now. When the personality of a malignant narcissist begins to unravel, you don’t want to be around.