Totalizing Donald Trump

Don’t misunderstand me—some sort of summation of Donald Trump, the despicable human being, is my aim here. And we should be clear that labeling him a narcissist[1] is incomplete. He seems to me also a bully, who might not believe that might makes right but does seem to believe that it is an unproblematic means for restoring or establishing right; he therefore encourages bullying among those on his side.

The question of “his side” is important here because authoritarian populists adopt a hierarchically invidious monistic view of the world; they conflate “us” with “right” and “them” with “wrong” and otherwise lack a coherent, let alone considered, view of just what ‘right’ is.[2] In this, we do not really know who “we” are, and subaltern folks are entirely right to raise that question.

But in the meantime, Donald Trump as superhero saves the country—not the world—from Barack Obama as arch-villain but never pauses (at least in the archetype I saw when I was watching superheroes) for deeper questions. He is simply ‘right’ and any actions he takes in support of that ‘right’ are justified. (At least from a lay perspective, this might be narcissistic rage.[3])

There are, of course, enormous problems with this kind of a view of the world. Questions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are not so easily settled. And with what appears to be a grandiose narcissist’s[4] finger on the nuclear button, there is more than a little cause for genuine alarm.[5] But we should also be considering at some considerable length what it says about the United States that such a man could be elected.

  1. [1]Henry Alford, “Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!” Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/donald-trump-narcissism-therapists; Aaron Blake, “The American Psychiatric Association issues a warning: No psychoanalyzing Donald Trump,” Washington Post, August 7, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/07/the-american-psychiatric-association-reminds-its-doctors-no-psychoanalyzing-donald-trump/; Will Pavia, “The psychiatrists’ verdict: Donald Trump is a man incapable of guilt, with inner rage,” Times, May 20, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/psychiatrists-verdict-on-trump-a-man-incapable-of-guilt-with-inner-rage-zsrlt707b; Brian Resnick, “Psychiatry’s “Goldwater Rule” has never met a test like Donald Trump,” Vox, May 25, 2017, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/25/15680354/psychiatry-goldwater-rule-trump; Gail Sheehy, “At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their ‘Duty to Warn’ About an Unfit President,” New York, April 23, 2017, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/yale-psychiatrists-cite-duty-to-warn-about-unfit-president.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  3. [3]See George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counseling Resource, July 24, 2017, http://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/
  4. [4]Again, see George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counseling Resource, July 24, 2017, http://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/
  5. [5]Gail Sheehy, “At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their ‘Duty to Warn’ About an Unfit President,” New York, April 23, 2017, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/yale-psychiatrists-cite-duty-to-warn-about-unfit-president.html

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

Leave a Reply