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I worked for a severe narcissist for a while. I just realize I’ve never written specifically about that experience.

Not sure why I haven’t since I’ve written endlessly about narcissistic personality disorder.

May be relevant given everyone in the WH has a narc boss.

I was recruited by an impressive-seeming firm for a specific job. I passed on it. They approached me about a second. Passed on that one too.

The more I rejected them, the more interested the CEO became. Courted me. Took me out to dinner. Flattered the crap out of me.

I took the third job he offered - in truth, against my better judgment at the time.

As soon as I arrived, I discovered some pretty insane things.

One of the big clients I was supposed to work on... didn’t exist.

The company existed. They weren’t a client.

What I came to learn was that the 20 partners had all devised strategies to manage their abusive, manipulative, severely narcissistic boss.

I eventually came up with names for them.

One was “Proclaim and Disclaim”.

The partner would boldly announce something that would please the CEO and then immediately begin walking it back.

Would announce he landed a big new client... and then say the deal was in process... and then hitting some obstacles... and then sidelined... but coming someday.

The non-existent client I was supposed to inherit was one of those Proclaim and Disclaim deals.

The CEO truly didn’t know that the partner was just blowing smoke up his a** each and every day as a strategy.

It worked.

Another strategy was the “Kick the Can”.

Most partners used that one.

They would appear to readily agree to things the CEO wanted and then give the appearance of pursuing them while actually doing nothing other than managing that appearance.

Narcissists are easily manipulated by people who they believe admire and respect them.

The CEO had dual ivy degrees. So did most of the partners (not me!). This was a “smart” guy being manipulated by smart people.

Narcs are easy to manipulate despite being manipulators.

The more sycophantic and admiring someone seemed to be, the more the CEO loved them and the less their manipulations were scrutinized.

The Proclaim and Disclaim dude was a senior partner despite none of the things he proclaimed ever materializing. It was... wild.

Partners who questioned the CEO or pushed back on his demands became targets.

The CEO would separate them from the flock. He’d run a little whisper campaign to let the other partners know that he was “disappointed” in the target.

The partners would then distance themselves from the target while privately agreeing with them...

The partner would go through a period of trying to handle the increasing pressure put on by the CEO.

They would be tormented, stressed, suffering - and out on an island.

Eventually, the target would be fired. They would go through a bruising, damaging, hurtful downward spiral first though.

The survivors knew the cycle. As soon as someone was marked, they were done. Questioning the CEO was a death warrant.

I knew I had made a mistake as soon as I landed. I’m a sycophant for no one so the CEO quite predictably went from love-bombing to souring on me quickly.

Unlike his other victims though, I understood his deal. Straight narcissistic personality disorder.

So, I countered his efforts to put me under additional pressure and eventually checkmated him by putting him in a position where keeping me around threatened his facade but so did firing me...

I backed him into a corner where he knew I could either leave happy and his facade would be safe...

...or I could leave unhappy and become a public detractor in places where he couldn’t control the narrative.

Protecting the facade is a narcissist’s kryptonite.

He eventually, very begrudgingly “pushed me out” on my terms.

No joke, getting there was the best strategic work of my career.

The other partners... the survivors... those folks with dual ivy degrees... he screwed every last one.

Sold the company. Cheated them all.

Bringing this around to Trump, I guarantee these dynamics exist in the White House.

Every staffer has developed a strategy to merely keep from being the person marked as a target.

Mattis took the Kick the Can approach apparently. Took Trump’s directives but did nothing to advance them.

Most people though, no matter how strong or competent they are, default to the lowest strategy: sycophancy and avoidance.

The more you burnish the bronze statue - the more you appear to believe the facade and respect the narc - the less they bother you.

In private, those people spend their days not thinking about whether a directive is right or wrong but instead calculating the risks.

Anyone who might push back already went through the long, tortured marked-for-death cycle. They had long, painful falls.

Trump fires people for not being convinced enough by the facade to worship... and he can’t face them up close.

Notice Trump doesn’t abruptly fire people or fire them to their face.

He can’t handle people who mirror back his weakness.

He has other people fire them... and then he goes back into the meetings where staffers with strategies game and manipulate him to merely survive.

The White House and every staffer in it is part of an ecosystem that entirely revolves around one driving force: Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder.

At this pt, every mtg, conversation and decision is in some way driven by the bottomless pit of Trump’s broken ego.

That dynamic incrementally lowers the moral bar.

People go along more; quietly undermine less; and settle into an abusive situation by fashioning strategies to merely not be the person abused...

...and when people around you are being abused severely, at some point, merely not being abused almost feels like love.

They know Trump is awful. They aren’t leaving. That isn’t going to change... until their day comes and they get tagged with a target.

One by one, they’ll be shocked that they’re the one the rest of the staff is quietly avoiding.

They’ll be shocked to be carrying out their boxes.

Then they’ll call the past detractors and tell them they had been right all along.

Such is the way it goes with narcs. Always.

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