Google “Is Donald Trump a Narcissist” and you will have more than 4,000 pages to read.
Time Magazine, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, even Pintrest have posted articles about the possibility that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suffers from Narcissist Personality Disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, NPD is a personality disorder that is described as the following:
Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life, such as work or school. If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry.
Many psychologist have broken a cardinal rule not to speculating on the mental health of famous people and have weighed in on Trump’s possible condition. I don’t really care too much about the reasons behind this breach, even though it is pretty much unprecedented _ at least in the last 50 years _ or what is says about the state of our current candidates for the highest office in the land.
Instead, I am both re-triggered and validated by clip after clip of pundits, experts and ordinary people seeing just a peek of what a victim of such a personality goes through every day. Listen to how fellow Republicans have been exasperated as they have tried to figure out what should be simple. They are all suppose to be on the same side and be helping each other out. And on election day, no matter the outcome, we are all Americans who are the same team. But, watching some of the rhetoric, you wouldn’t know it. You’d think we are at war with each other.
If you read my blog, you know that I am a survivor and victim of domestic violence by my ex. I raised two children co-parenting with my violent abuser, who shows the signs of what the Mayo Clinic describes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as:
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
- Exaggerating your achievements and talents
- Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
- Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
- Requiring constant admiration
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
- Taking advantage of others to get what you want
- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
- Being envious of others and believing others envy you
- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
My ex has exhibited all of these traits at one time or another. He often overacted to perceived slights or a loss of control with bully behavior and violence while we were married. Five years after our divorce, he blindsided me with an unsuccessful custody suit over our then teenagers _ without any evidence. I had one email from him just a few weeks before he served me with the suit that he was unhappy with his visitation schedule. Eight months and tens of thousands of dollars later, he dropped his fight and agreed to essentially the same parenting plan we had already been using.
Fifteen years of marriage and 11 years co-parenting with someone fighting relentlessly and ruthlessly for control left me with a pretty big case of post traumatic stress disorder.
Now, watching the coverage of Trump, I see signs of my ex and it makes me anxious. I have spoken to many victims of domestic abuse who have been shocked at how Trump’s rhetoric sounds just like their abusers’. It is enough to give a healed victim sleepless nights all over again.
The National Discussion
But, I am also validated by the national discussion. I’ve seen those who are troubled by Trump confused and reaching for some explanation. I’ve seen others, like House Speak Paul Ryan, hope that their candidate will change and evolve even though they struggle with his behavior. It reminds me of the days of denial that kept me married to a man who abused me time and time again. His apologies and promises to change were well spoken. His words were what I wanted so desperately to hear that I set aside the history of his horrendous behavior.
The Trump conversation is giving the whole country the shorthand and lingo that many of those in the victim community have used for years to vent, share and discuss a journey with an abuser. The words “narcissism” and “narcissist” are taking on a much more clinical and dangerous meaning than old colloquialisms of the past used to mock someone who was a little too self-centered.
Whether you agree with Trump’s politics or not (and he certainly isn’t the only candidate with questionable behavior), there is no denying the hours of video footage of his chaotic behavior, inconsistent statements and lack of empathy. Imagine daily life with someone who’s word means nothing, who overacts to criticism, is willing to name-call and ruthlessly cut down anyone who disagrees with him and shows no ability to empathize with even a mother holding a crying baby or a mother who lost her son.
Living with an abuser is a lot like that. Only we victims aren’t our partner’s opponent and aren’t suppose to be in a win-lose competition. We are suppose to be on the same side, too.
I have to admit, I would never in a million years recommend my ex as a leader of anything or could I endorse him as having the right temperament to be a healthy co-parent, let alone commander in chief. His judgment led us down some very dangerous slopes and his violence blew up our family. His irrational behavior nearly cost me my life and forever scarred the lives of my children. My children and I live today with the consequences of that union that I maintained against my better judgment.
It took me many, many years of incident after incident to finally accept my ex for who he is rather than who I hoped he would become.
When I did, I began setting my firm, immovable boundaries and stopped looking to him as a partner, a leader or someone I could trust.
Julie Boyd Cole is a mother of two sons, a journalist, writer and business woman. She has written for the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Yahoo.com among many publications around the country. She is the author of “How to Co-Parent with An Abusive Ex and Keep Your Sanity” available on Amazon.
Currently, she is the chief executive administrator of a non-profit in North Florida. And Julie is a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband, an NFL sportswriter, and today is an advocate helping other victims sort through the trauma of domestic abuse.
Julie also writes for bruisedwoman.com and @bruisedwoman on Twitter about the topic of domestic abuse, co-parenting with an abuser and the emotional damage caused by narcissists and personality disorders.
Surviving domestic violence wasn’t easy or the PTSD that followed, but Julie has found a path through the trauma and now encourages all women that they can too. Julie leads YANA support, speaks to church groups, community groups and women made homeless by abuse. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org