First, as everyone who follows me knows, I know a thing or two about narcissistic personality disorder and sufferers like Donald J. Trump.
I know what makes people with NPD tick... and more importantly, I know what it takes to manage them. I know what works and doesn't.
That's an understatement. While this is a dubious achievement, I am a freakin' Jedi master at managing a highly disordered person.
I do it daily. I co-parent w/ it. I usher my son through his childhood via only my ability to steer a Trump-like person away from the rocks.
The first and foremost requirement for managing a person with NPD is getting pretty damn comfortable with having to say uncomfortable things
Severe narcissists like Donald Trump are nearly entirely unreachable. There is only one tiny sliver of a way to even get them to allow u...
...to keep talking to them... and unless you employ that methodology, they flee and you lose ALL ability to even slightly influence them.
That methodology requires accepting that severe narcissists cannot handle being criticized - or even the indirect suggestion of criticism...
If they feel criticized or shamed, they flee. Immediately. They cut you off, shut you down, turn on you, tune you out. They're gone.
The only way to stay within earshot of a severe narc and have a CHANCE to influence them is to use what's called a "dialectical approach".
You need to - at all times - combine two things: 1) unconditional acceptance; and 2) soft, artfully delivered nudging to make diff choices.
The second you even momentarily turn off the unconditional acceptance (i.e. no judgment, shame, criticism) you lose them. Gone.
For people like us, this is absolutely INFURIATING. It feels like not holding that person accountable - or worse, condoning bad behavior.
There is an art to it though... The unconditional acceptance is just a way to keep their guard down so they'll hear artful nudging at all.
When I first separated, I had a therapist helping me manage my severely narcissistic soon to be ex. At first, this approach infuriated me.
It made me incensed that the therapist wasn't holding them accountable for what they were doing as a parent (which was awful).
It got to the pt where I called the therapist on a Saturday intending to fire them... After 2 1/2 hours of talking me off the ledge...
...I came all the way around to saying "Okay, I'm in your hands. I'll follow your lead." and from then on, I did.
Best money I ever spent and best advice I ever got. It not only works, it is the ONLY thing that works.
Bringing this back around to Trump and Chief of Staff Kelly, if someone called me and said "HW, we need you to manage Trump..."...
...I would be doing nearly exactly what Kelly is doing. I would be offering unconditional acceptance in public even when distasteful.
No matter how shameful or awful Trump's behavior, he would not read a hint of judgment or condemnation in my public statements. None.
I would know that my only way to have ANY influence on him in private is to appear to be unconditionally accepting of him in public.
Privately, I would be nudging him to consider different choices in the future... and I'd know that is ALL that can be done.
Managing a narcissist is both the easiest and hardest job in the world. The formula is horribly unpleasant but incredibly simple...
...it makes you act understanding abt a parent not buying their child a Christmas tree when you'd rather choke the crap out of them.
It makes you feign acceptance of things you find wholly unacceptable solely because you know that's you're only way to prevent worse.
Chief of Staff Kelly is by no means my kind of guy. I don't like his politics. I don't think he is an angel. Outside of Trump, I'm no fan.
However, as someone viewing his behavior through the lens of what it takes to in influence a Trump at all, he is doing what you have to do.
If you very carefully parse his statement today, he didn't endorse Trump's statement, he unconditionally accepted it without judgment.
That feels all kind of gross to folks who have never had to manage a narc but it is. just. what. you. have. to. do...... endlessly.
We may someday come to find that Kelly is a worse guy than I would guess but regardless, the guy is absolutely hitting all the notes...
Managing a narcissist absolutely sucks... and regardless of why, he is doing it exactly as I would.... and I am damn good at it.
I used the exact techniques he's using to navigate a divorce, primary custody and 7+ years of co-parenting without ever seeing a courtroom.
People who were married to a narc can tell you that's like crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope while juggling knives.
Chief of Staff Kelly is doing the same thing while knowing that if he so much as stumbles, World War III might result.
So, while you may hate the words coming out of his mouth, remember, you aren't the audience... and he probably does too.
While distasteful to hear, I hope he keeps doing exactly what he's doing because the second he stops, he's out... and we're in trouble.<end>