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I haven’t written much about Trump’s narcissism of late, so now is as good a time as any to lay down a thread on where his compulsions are taking us.

As always, let’s start with the golden rule of narcissism:

Narcs care only about avoiding shame and soliciting adoration.

Those are the two impulses which control their every thought, action and deed.

There is nothing more inside them.

There is no deeper capacity for thought or decision-making.

They are primal, caveman-like self-dealers wired to serve only those two needs.

At all times.

Of those two impulses, the drive to avoid shame is the more powerful.

Being forced to face unavoidable public shame is like being boiled alive to someone with Trump’s wiring. It is worse than death. Excruciating.

There is nothing a narcissist wouldn’t do to avoid that.

The go-to strategy of your run-of-the-mill average narcissist in private life would be to:

1) Insulate the people they wish to control from everyone else
2) Control the flow of information
3) Evict and villainize any critic or source of contradictory information

4) Scapegoat and blame others for their own choices
5) Insist they are actually heroically solving the problems they, in fact, caused all on their own
6) Demand they be adored for the heroic way they have led in crisis (which, again, they caused)

Trump can’t run that script effectively as president - and it is truly the only script he has. He is incapable of adaptation, learning or insight.

He is literally and truly incapable of running a different play at the line of scrimmage.

Add to all of this, Trump is not only genuinely ignorant, he is angrily resistant to being taught.

He has an adversarial relationship with information and expertise.

After all, his ignorance leads to him being embarrassed and per all the above, he is wired to fight that.

We are in a situation where a healthy, functional leader would realize:

1) The situation is fluid
2) Experts must be in charge
3) The president must reduce themselves to being the chief advocate for direction set by experts
4) Their best role is as a Comforter in Chief

As the above laid out, nothing could possibly be further from Trump’s capacities.

He is quite literally a simple machine constructed of only a few simple wires soldered together in a way that enables only one canned approach to every situation no matter how they differ.

Trump cannot treat a situation as fluid because that makes it appear like he is not in control.

He cannot defer to experts because that would be an acknowledgment that he isn’t one.

And he can not reduce himself to being a Comforter in Chief because:

1) That would mean acknowledging a problem came to exist under his watch which he cannot heroically fix

And worse:

2) He exists solely to serve two primal impulses (shame-avoidance & seeking adoration) and frankly cannot even understand, let alone care about, the feelings or needs of others.

In fact, others’ anxiety makes him angry because it, in and of itself, shames him.

After all, if people are still worried and upset, that must mean they don’t really believe he is the all-conquering hero saving the day after all.

Remember when Trump lashed out at the reporter last week who merely asked what he’d say to the worried?

Remember how his first impulse was to lash out and explode?

Narcissists show themselves in full technicolor for brief moments.

People are always shocked by how very “off” the reaction was but can’t really process that it isn’t ‘behavior’. It’s wiring. It’s who they are.

So, taking back to the present, Trump is now caught in the middle of his very worst kind of nightmare:

1) A situation of his making
2) Which he cannot solve
3) Intense public scrutiny
4) Rival sources of information who he cannot silence
5) The reality it will get worse

For a narcissist, that’s like being tied to the train tracks.

It is so excruciating, they double-down on their worst impulses - even as they’re told it will actually make things far worse.

In their primitive eggshell minds, doing even a disastrous next thing which temporarily postpones their continued shaming but actually makes things worse is actually better.

They live in only this very moment. This very second.

Trump is in the worst possible place for his particular wiring.

And he is absolutely commanded to do the worst possible things.

And that will absolutely make it worse.

So, in my opinion, I’d expect Trump will do some or all of the following next:

1) Insist he has already “succeeded” in stemming the spread

2) Insist severe restrictions can be eased or lifted by next week

3) Silence people who contradict him inside the admin. e.g. Fauci

4) Angrily lash out at rival sources of information outside the admin. eg the media and outside experts

5) Insist on doing a victory lap of some kind to collect worship and adoration. A rally or trip or prime time appearance on Fox News. Something.

Since all of that will be utterly asinine, governors and local leaders will fill the void by taking even more charge... and that will make Trump even angrier.

Within a week, he will be consumed with his grievances more than with even the growing problem of COVID-19 itself.

Trump will simmer, rage, lash out and meltdown in an increasingly unhinged series of rants toward people like Governor Cuomo even as it becomes inarguable that Trump’s guidance is making things worse.

And then, when he finally has no choice but to face that he is failing at serving his only two masters - shame avoidance and adoration-seeking - he will buckle, reverse course, and then go quiet and hide away from the public.

Trump will be made to walk the plank.

He will be forced by the escalating crisis to eventually succumb to the wisdom of experts.

But first, he will make all of this much worse.

Next week, a dysfunctional man will lead the nation further into a health crisis.

It will be an attempt to avoid being seen as responsible for it to begin with.

It will make it worse. People will have told him that. He will do it anyway.

He is incapable of otherwise.

(Apologies for typos and such. Written in one pass on a phone. There will be no proofreading while under home containment.)
I should add one thing to this.

People always respond to the issue of Trump’s shame-avoidance by saying “He is incapable of feeling shame!”

That’s only half-true.

Trump does not feel shame for his actions. He is, however, shamed by others seeing him as shameful.
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