It’s all the rage these days. We are on the cusp of battling Covid-19 down off its pandemic perch. Spring is around the corner. The stock market is volatile, and a big bank failed. But the economy is looking up and this is not an election year—so life for most is palatable. I hate to spoil it, but narcissism is on my mind. The ethics of a babosso are definitely on the uptick, especially in Florida. Our narcissist-in-chief is riding his one-trick pony, puffing, grunting, and besmirching the airwaves, belching a third run for the White House. He forgets that he lost the popular vote twice, was impeached twice, is under multiple criminal investigations and still has orange hair. Now in faint he proclaims, “I am your warrior. I am your justice. I am your retribution.”[1]

Don’t take my word for it. I have the pleasure of never meeting the man.

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan knew he had a problem. “Donald Trump had been elected president and Ryan, as the Republican Speaker of the House, had to find ways to work with him – despite the two men’s totally opposite approaches to life and politics. . . Ryan began, on his own, to research how to deal with someone who is amoral and transactional. The exercise initially was difficult. Ryan liked to call himself a ‘policy guy’ but his wonkiness did not extend from the realm of Social Security and Medicare into psychiatry. Then a wealthy New York doctor and Republican donor called Ryan and said, ‘You need to understand what narcissistic personality disorder is.’“[2]

Since then, millions of normal Americans have gone down the Google rabbit hole searching for insight into narcissism. Developmental psychologists say Trump is the “Prototypical narcissist. . . a grandiose self-image. A very inflated ego. A continuous need for attention. A big urge to be admired. And if that admiration is lacking or he is criticized, he lashes out recklessly. He is the paradox of narcissistic leadership. It’s a paradox because after some time, the narcissist will virtually always be rejected by others. The narcissist doesn’t have any leadership qualities. He thinks about himself excessively often, not about the public interest, not about the collective. And they always overestimate themselves. That’s what Trump is doing too: overestimating himself.”[3]

He said he was a warrior. Of what? A warrior is a brave soldier or fighter. Trump dodged a war five times — once for bad feet and four times for college. He earned the rank of “Cadet Bone Spurs.”[4]

He said he was our justice. In its noun form, justice means “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people.” His former vice-president, Mike Pence knows he is not a just man. He put Pence and his family in danger. Pence is on offense now. “History will hold him accountable over the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.”[5]

His third prong, in his backward way of not formally announcing he would run for the presidency a third time, was that he was his party’s “retribution.” Now there’s a zinger for the ages. Retribution is punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act. Wow! He’s picked his own poison. The Justice Department has charged over 800 Trump supporters involved in the J6 riot and attack of the nation’s capital. It is still investigating others tied to the plot. The congressional committee investigating the riot said, “The former president was responsible for orchestrating a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”[6]

Ethics in today’s chaotic world is about morality. Morals are the prevailing standards of behavior that enable people to live cooperatively in groups. Moral refers to what societies sanction as right and acceptable. Nothing about Trump is acceptable, much less right. An ethical narcissistic personality is an oxymoron.

Trump is well known at Psych Central. “There are people who have a narcissistic personality disorder. Donald Trump is in [that] category. When people have a disorder, it’s as if they’re like an egg. On the outside of an egg, on the shell, you could hit it with your finger. . . Once you crack that everything falls out, it oozes out. There’s nothing left. . . They sometimes fly under the radar, though, and not when they’re blatant as the former president or people like that. But some narcissists . . . when they’re narcissistically injured, when the egg does crack . . . that’s when the other side of them comes out and all of the defenses come out.”[7]

Trump is no longer playing offense; now he’s now only on defense, facing multiple investigations and potentially years in prison. He’s playing the bluff—warrior—justice—retribution. That’s what happens when your shell cracks.








Gary L Stuart

I am an author and a part-time lawyer with a focus on ethics and professional discipline. I teach creative writing and ethics to law students at Arizona State University. Read my bio.

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