Life in the Box: Reflected Bits


Did you know Narcissism is a psychological disorder? I looked it up on Mayo Clinic online, and some of the symptoms include:  

     –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.
     –Requiring constant admiration.
     –Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.

Believe it or not, people with this disorder have trouble with relationships. Really bad trouble!

A psychologist friend of mine says it’s easy to see that our new president has classic symptoms of this disorder, although by rights she can’t diagnose publicly. And there are many who agree with her observations. It hasn’t missed the attention of major news writers (I link to the Washington Post for one example, below.) 

Narcissus, the Greek mythological character, died because he couldn’t stop admiring his own reflection. We don’t know how President Trump sees himself in those private moments of reflection, assuming that he ever has a private moment of reflection, so instead, we need to rely on what our friends see while viewing him from their various perspectives. Certainly, what they see doesn’t seem so admirable. 

My social worker friend, Diane, has developed a theory through studying Trump’s speech patterns and other “tells”—that he is stuck in the persona of a ten-year-old. I personally have thought him to be more of a three-year-old, but I nod to Diane’s expertise.

Senator from Minnesota and former comedian Al Franken observed that Trump never laughs. Humorist Mark Russell adds that Trump almost never smiles, “It’s more of a grimace.” He adds, “Trump can’t take a joke.” Another comment I’ve heard about Trump’s facial expressions is that one of his most-used looks is one of “contempt.” He also likes to “shoot people” with his fingers. Hopefully his fingers aren’t loaded. 

I caught a few minutes of a radio show where someone (who knows who?) said that Trump’s style of business dealing was to come to the table with the most outrageous demands that he could, in order to set the “opponent” on the defensive. Then, in later negotiations, Trump “walks it back.”

This struck a chord with me, and ever since I heard it described, I have seen this “attack—then walk back” strategy already happening in the new administration’s approach to foreign affairs. Trump has made some appalling verbal attacks on China, Jerusalem, Mexico, all of the Middle East—and who knows what additional countries and regions he will have offended by the time this column publishes.

The commentator on the radio expressed dismay at the use of this business negotiation strategy in diplomacy, saying it would not work in international circles. I just caught myself almost writing “Needless to say,” but at this point, I’m finding that many things I thought were needless to say are needing to be said.  

This crazy America! I was in so much emotional pain after the president’s first week in office, I needed more mood medicine! Another friend of mine reminded me that my distress could be caused by over-stimulation of the limbic system. She told me that many people are encountering mood swings like never before—because our “reptile brain” that decries “fight or flight” is getting over-dosed with the daily news reports of major, repugnant and, let’s face it, scary activities at the highest levels of our government. 

We don’t know what to do with all this fear and unpredictability. We don’t know how to protect ourselves and our friends from baseless accusations and the contempt that seems to be aimed at us from “above us” and around us.

Last week, after watching the (painful but uplifting) movie Hidden Figures, some friends and I chanced upon one of our State Representatives, Imam Ako Abdul-Samad. As one of our state’s few Muslim and African-American representatives, as well as a spiritual leader whose son was murdered, he is someone we have often turned to during troubling times in Des Moines. He’s deep, he’s kind and he is “walking the talk.”

He believes in people telling their stories and knowing they are not alone. He recently started a web site for people to tell their painful stories and get support. He calls it “from pain 2 power.” After you jump through the web site’s extended list of rules (basically: be respectful and don’t endorse criminal activity), you’ll find stories posted by a few brave souls. Maybe you’d like to post there, too.

Comfort and kindness from friends and strangers; bits and pieces of insights; and a big dose of Xanax will help us make it–through the looking glass–and maybe through one more week!

Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and the world of ideas both inside and outside the box. Her opinions are her own and don’t necessarily represent the opinions of this web site.

Mayo Clinic info on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and treatments

One of many articles about this in mainstream media Washington Post July 2016

Ako Abdu-Samad, Iowa House Democrat

From Pain 2 Power website

From Pain 2 Power on Facebook

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2017

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