If You’ve Ever Known A Narcissist, Nothing About Trump’s Behavior Surprises You

by Leah Campbell
Politician Donald Trump wearing a black suit and red tie looking proudly at the audience on a stage ...
Scary Mommy and MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

In the beginning, you might have been charmed. The first narcissist you ever met may even have swept you off your feet.

Or perhaps they swept someone you loved off their feet. A parent, maybe. Or a close friend.

And it seemed okay at first. They seemed great. Until the days and weeks went by and their narcissism oozed to the surface and either you, or your loved one, kept trying to make excuses for it. Initially blind to it.

Until it was too late.

Anyone who has ever had any kind of true interaction with a narcissist (whether they were raised by one or loved one) has likely found themselves triggered by Trump over the last four years. His behavior probably brings up those dark memories of manipulation and abuse. His bravado reminds you of the person who couldn’t ever step out of the spotlight; the person whose entire persona relied on being adored.

Adored and in control. Always.

You recognized Trump for what he was immediately, because you’ve been there before. And it made your stomach twist, your heart race, the hair on your skin rise. Because you knew exactly what a man like this was capable of.

The Mayo Clinic outlines the signs and symptoms of narcissism pretty clearly:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • An excessive need for admiration
  • A desire to be recognized as superior, even when they’ve done nothing to earn that
  • Constantly inflating one’s own achievements and talents
  • Obsessed with the idea of success and power
  • Taking advantage of others, and belittling those they look down upon
  • Lacking empathy, incapable of recognizing others needs and feelings
  • Arrogant, conceited, boastful

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty

The Washington Post via Getty Im

We could go through that list one by one and find examples of how Trump has checked off every symptom. He believes he is better than everyone at everything. He thinks he’s smarter than even experts who have spent their lives studying subjects he knows nothing about. He lacks empathy and seems to enjoy the controversy he stirs. And he will lie and spin and gaslight until everyone around him is dizzy rather than ever admit he’s been wrong.

Think about it: Can you think of a single instance in which Donald Trump has sincerely apologized for a misstep he’s made, or better yet, admitted he said or did something wrong? It’s never happened. Because Trump is completely incapable of doing so.

He’s a textbook narcissist, according to psychologists and researchers. And that’s exactly why his behavior is so triggering to those who have had the traumatic experience of dealing with a narcissist.

It’s also why those of us who have had those experiences haven’t been at all surprised by the way his antics have ramped up over these last few months.

We’re terrified and sick just watching it, but none of us is surprised.

Narcissists don’t know how to let go. They literally cannot admit defeat. And when abuse is involved, as it is fair to say has been the case with Donald Trump (the abuse of power, and of the entire United States), that abuse only escalates as the narcissist does anything and everything they can think of to maintain control.

Just over a week ago, Donald Trump incited violence among his most ardent supporters. He encouraged them to “”fight much harder” and to “show strength” as they marched on the capitol.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

When those marchers then took over the Capitol Building, instead of admonishing them and calling for violence against them as he’s done in the past (“When the looting starts, the shooting starts”) he told them he loved them and that they were “very special people.”

This is a man who built a cult of followers around him, and then sent them off to do his dirty work. And by all accounts, he was pleased, even gleeful, at the results.

If you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist before, you’ve seen this behavior in action. Maybe not to the same extent, but you’ve witnessed an abusive person incapable of admitting defeat and relinquishing control. You’ve seen them use their charm and gaslighting to convince those around them that they aren’t as dangerous as they are.

And you know the worst isn’t over yet.

Trump won’t step down calmly. He won’t slink away quietly into retirement. He can’t. He’s not capable of doing so. His narcissistic personality means he’ll continue to escalate until he’s stopped.

And if history has taught us anything, it’s that a failure to stop a narcissist in power could have devastating consequences for decades to come.

But if you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist, you know all this. And it’s why you’re on edge. It’s why you’re scared. Because you know something that perhaps others don’t.

You know exactly how dangerous a narcissist whose pride has been injured can be.