In the first part of the article, the author explains the psychological underpinnings of the cult of trump, identifies trump as a pathological narcissist, and explains the lower case T (“the name trump isn’t worthy of capitalization, unless we are talking about Mary”). Catch up on “Narcissism Is Trumpism, Part I” here.
How Can We Deprogram the Cult of trump?
Why people follow and submit to these toxic manipulators is key, and there are a lot of layers here. As with the patterns of most narcissistic leaders and other grifters, the patterns of followers and “suckers” are often mostly psychological as well, which is why certain types get specifically targeted. Those who are more fearful, traumatized, insecure, or blind faith believers are among the most vulnerable because these types of people all have easy buttons toxic predators instinctively push, trigger, and manipulate.
However, the most vulnerable of all to falling under the spells of toxic manipulators are the children of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths; because they were raised from birth to serve their primary narcissist and to see selfish behavior as normal. This is why I highly suspect that many, if not most, of trump’s supporters were children of narcissists.
This formative grooming also explains why silly little things like facts, logic, and reason don’t work on them. They were trained and conditioned to blindly follow a narcissist, just like trump was by his sociopathic father. To donny and his submissive followers, being arrogant, greedy and manipulative is just what a “smart, normal and good leader” does.
Psychology shows the phrase “trump cultism is a mental disorder” is far more accurate than most people realize. There is no doubt trump’s behavior closely aligns with the traits of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder (sociopaths and psychopaths). Most of his followers’ behaviors closely align with those trained to follow and serve these types of pathological narcissists. Therefore, we certainly need to deprogram the ones we can.
Obviously deprogramming is a loaded word, but the American government has had to deprogram America from this kind of selfish extremism before. During World War II, the War Department put out the film “Don’t Be a Sucker” to warn about how believing racist and bigoted Nazi-type propaganda is nothing more than a fascist fool’s game; at the end of their divide-and-conquer tactics, all men and women are not created equal. And this goes against what we expect in our liberty and freedoms, and aspire to be as a just nation.
To deprogram the trump cult psychologically, there needs to be a multi-vectored, whole of society approach to combat the decades, if not centuries, of psychological conditioning and programming. We need to educate the public about how pathological narcissism affects us as a society and as individuals. We need to help families raise secure, empathetic, caring, and self-aware children so they don’t later become easy prey for manipulators.
We need to greatly reduce childhood trauma; this is the main cause and driver of pathological narcissism. We need to weed out these toxic bullies from institutions that are supposed to have empathy and a helpful regard for other humans, because narcissists are rarely capable of caring for the welfare of any other beings. We need to do many things on both macro and micro levels to deprogram. We must do this because there is no limit to how low these narcissists will go to get what they crave, as exhibited by trump.
Once people understand that almost nothing trump or Republicans say or do is surprising, the gaslighting loses a lot of its power. In fact, when people realize almost all of the trump GOP’s words and actions are extremely predictable narcissist lies and behaviors, this clarifying effect will help them identify how and when their emotional triggers are being used to manipulate them. Yes, it is all still horrific and exhausting, but knowing the patterns, and having most of the shock factors removed, makes it all less triggering and helps people stop their emotions from overriding their logic and reason.
Once someone realizes what is being sold to them is a false ego-boost illusion built on selfishness and fueled by fear, hate, insecurity, or a thirst for power, it all should start making sense but that begs the questions: Can followers handle the truth? Do they even care about the truth? Can they even understand the “personal responsibility” party is led by people who are psychologically incapable of ever taking any personal responsibility?
Sadly, for many who have survived severe narcissistic abuse, if they haven’t gone over to the dark side, narcissists can often incapacitate them by triggering very painful feelings and memories. Pathological narcissists seem instinctively like sharks to blood when it comes to pushing a survivor’s trauma, fear, and insecurity buttons. Love can certainly break through sometimes with some, but as with most cult deprogramming, it takes a lot of love, time, therapy, and healing and many victims are conditioned to believe kindness is a weakness the “strong” should exploit. My personal motto in this effort is be kind, be friendly, be helpful, but don’t be a sucker, because takers will take as long as givers give.
Can We Deprogram Them?
I’ve listened to, and read, thousands of people’s stories of dealing with narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths, and a commonality in many survivor stories is that good, kind, and smart people never imagined that anyone could lie, manipulate, and use others so cruelly and shamelessly for their own selfish and evil purposes, until it was too late for them to easily walk away. For most pathological narcissists, their first goal is to get their hooks in before the prey realizes they have been trapped in a nightmare. I get why empathic folks believe love conquers all, but that is because the shamelessness of those lacking consciences is nearly incomprehensible to people who only believe in, and strive for, human kindness.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen more than a token attempt at conscience from a Republican politician for a very long time, and pretty much every time I run MAGA or GOP policies through narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath trait prisms and factor in the minions they groom, bribe, or blackmail, it all aligns perfectly. It’s all about psychological patterns of manipulation by using people’s fears and traumas against them to gain wealth, power, and domination they believe will protect them and fill the emptiness where their souls are buried or supposed to be. We really need to understand there are those among us who are nothing more than a rogue’s gallery of swamp creatures.
We need to understand that these narcissists are the people who “can’t handle the truth” because their egos don’t like, or can’t handle, reality; so they must tell more lies to justify previous lies. They do this as they create alternate realities. Unfortunately, most experts agree therapy only teaches pathological narcissists how to manipulate the system better because therapy rarely works on the unwilling or those who believe there is nothing wrong with them. There is an exception to this axiom; some who have borderline personality disorders recognize they have self-destructive habits and can accept help making better choices to live better lives.
It all comes down to the most traumatized, selfish, and the fearful. Can they be reasoned out of it with a lot of understanding, love, and therapy, or are they pathologically mentally locked into who they are via conditioning and/or brain wiring? Pathological pretty much means uncontrollable habit. Pathological narcissism is in essence compulsive self-serving behavior so their entire purpose in life is to fill an empty hole they can never fill. That is why there is no bottom to the depths these greedy, toxic abusers will go, and there is little to nothing society can do to help them change. What we can do is wisely limit the damage.
Considering many have been groomed for generations and psychopathy can be hereditary, we must recognize some among us are both soft and hard-wired to be selfish, cruel, and “evil,” and then act accordingly. So as we spend the time, money, and resources trying to deprogram aspects of people’s unhealthy narcissism, we also need to do our best to determine which deplorables are redeemable and which are irredeemable.
As for the debate about whether someone is a clinical narcissist or not, if they consistently have little to no empathy, shame, guilt, remorse, or conscience in nearly all their dealings, what’s the difference? Who cares if they meet a clinical definition or not when the resulting traumas and damages they do to others and society are the same?
Our main takeaways should be that there are very consistent patterns of well-established psychological personality disorders threatening our economy, security, and democracy; because when choosing between public good and what helps them, those afflicted will always choose what helps them. And we can’t solve America’s biggest problems until this is seriously addressed from multiple vectors, like containing them with firm legal barriers. Indeed, pathological narcissism is perhaps humankind’s greatest hidden epidemic, and maybe the worst of them all since it seems to be the source of most trauma and the root of all evil.
On the bright side, despite being master manipulators, nefarious narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths will usually fail in the end because they don’t distinguish between their fantasies and reality. Eventually, they reveal themselves as delusional. The question is when they have taken over a main political party, will countries have the knowledge, resources, and political will to stop them? They will never willingly stop. They will always give you two choices: submit or rebel. What’s it going to be, America?
You may also enjoy Sam Ray’s discussion of Trump as viewed through a psychological, not a political, lens, “Trump and His Party of Flying Monkeys.“
Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
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