Monday, January 23, 2017

Avoiding paralipsis . . .

. . . I won’t call anyone a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but will insist that in Trump and his coterie, we are watching the strange tidal wave of a personality-disordered White House overcome us. Two of the most toxic character botches – NPD and psychopathy (the blackest end of Antisocial Personality) – feature radical lying, a phenomenon that I believe is included in Freud’s concept of “primary process,” signifying primitive. This is the species of mendacity where the person can never be caught because his world of truth is insular and determined solely by feeling and need and heartless contempt for other people. The “callous and unemotional”* child who tells his father “I didn’t take” the wad of bills sticking out of his pocket. The psychopath who fabricates an entire dazzling résumé.** Trump, Conway and Spicer lying about the Inaugural crowd and offering the insanely contemptuous – or contemptuously insane – artifact of “alternate facts.”

One wonders how these people found each other – solider than most Narcissistic / Borderline marriages.*** One wonders, even more, how people who would always seem estimable and professional-grade good are actually lizard-brains and amoral and immoral children who can express the ugliest lies and brainwashes with indignation or with a smile on their face.

Though people tend to a visceral dislike for psychological attribution (“ad hominem”; “psychobabble”; “pop-psych”; “pseudo-science”; “not a real doctor”), I am asking our country to turn its eyes to the formidable, oceanic entity of the personality disorder. Among us are individuals – many, actually – who see and live in the world at an entirely different tilt from the earthbound norm. For them, odd music has always been playing from childhood on, and it is the theme-symphony of their life. They can never be a full person, can never really bond with another. They live a cornered-rat crimped agenda in a wide world: to be dependent, to be destructive, to be perfect and envied, to be detached, to be the center of attention, to be rageful bleedy and hysterical.**** Their emotional repertoire is old, stale and moribund like Miss Havisham’s wedding cake,***** built from the failed mother-child bond but twisted by all the out-of-sync years in the interim. Like Cleckley’s “mask of sanity,”****** they look here-and-now but never passed the starting gate of their life, the crib, the playpen.

They are our new Heads and counsels and spokespersons of government. I can only speculate that they were magnetized to Trump’s administration in, broadly, the same way women fall for abusive men and domestically violent men find victimizable women.******* There are forces of infantile need – though they wear rich suits and a strutting rooster’s bearing – that underlie everything.

My point here is a simple one: Try, please, to break through the psych phobia and see personality disorder as a key secret – “hiding in plain sight” – in the world. It is, in a way, a terraforming alien among us. Wouldn’t you want to know if your husband ran over that cat by accident – or on purpose? Wouldn’t it be enlightening to know that your friend wants to kowtow to her nasty elderly mother, doing her bidding, taking her advice, lurching to her phone calls? Wouldn’t you, the new boyfriend or fiancé, want to know that your girlfriend’s saucy personality isn’t “women’s lib,” but rather the rabbit-boiling bitch-rage of a Borderline Personality? Wouldn’t you want to know that your husband or wife’s confidence, and ability to make you feel crazy, evil and stupid by words and looks alone, is the disease of Narcissism? I believe that knowing our new government oligarchy is disordered – with lies, untruths, ad hominem smears that you’d never expect from a small child – will enable us to keep them in a box, on the hot seat where we can face their words and actions with the deepest sobriety, and horror, and justice-giving. Otherwise, we’ll be dupes, victims.

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* “Callous and unemotional” – relatively new conceptualization of the psychopathic child. See some horrifying youtube videos on the subject.

** “His philosophy? ‘If you throw enough shit, some of it will stick.’ It seems to work, because he leaves even sophisticated observers convinced of his sincerity. For example, one interviewer’s notes contained statements such as: ‘very impressive’; ‘sincere and forthright’; ‘possesses good interpersonal skills’; ‘intelligent and articulate.’ What the interviewer learned after reading his files, however, was that virtually none of what the inmate had told him was true. Needless to say, this man’s score on the Psychopathy Checklist was very high.” Without Conscience – The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., p. 49.

**** Respectively, Dependent Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder.

***** Dickens’s Great Expectations.

****** The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues about the So-Called Psychopathic Personality, 1941.

******* The Illusion of Love – Why the Battered Woman Returns to Her Abuser, David P. Celani, Columbia University Press, 1994.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.