Is Psychological Narcissism the White Male Wound?

A waxwork of President Donald Trump, Madame Tussauds, London, January 18, 2017.

On the very day that eleven Jewish congregants were gunned down at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, a mere few hours later, Trump told a long meandering ‘jocular’ story about his bad hair day — how, while conducting an “unfortunate” impromptu press conference on the grounds of the White House, his hair got mussed by “the wind” that was “blowing,” before segueing into an incoherent rant about how unfairly he’s treated in the press.

As I have written earlier, Trump is so irrationally armoured, so phobic — so defended. He insists on styling and preparing his own hair each morning, which requires copious amounts of gel product and fixative, even though there is a full crew of aestheticians and stylists on hand at all times in the White House. The helmet-like coif conceals the fact that Trump’s pate is mostly bald except for the patch of transplanted hair-bearing scalp on the top, the operation to achieve which result occasioned the violent sexual assault allegation that first wife, Ivana Trump, alleged in a sworn affidavit during their divorce proceedings in 1990. (She has since ‘gentled’ this allegation, under pressure, with Trump acting through his lawyers to quash both the rape charge and the testimony that he’d ever had a hair transplant operation.)

The divorce deposition revealed that the procedure was done by Ivana’s cosmetic surgeon, whom she had recommended to her husband for a scalp reduction operation, reputedly more successful and convincing a procedure than simple hair transplants. The procedure had not resulted in the luxurious mane Trump had been expecting, didn’t look good or convincing, and moreover hurt like hell.

Shortly after, when Trump was still experiencing pain and wasn’t at all happy with the artificial-looking result, he attacked Ivana in their bedroom while she was brushing her own, genuine, full head of luxurious blonde hair. It seems Trump was inordinately jealous of Ivana’s mop. He grabbed her by the offending hair and dragged her onto the floor, pulling out fistfuls of hair in the process. He then raped her, according to her original testimony. The next morning, when she was still reeling from the assault and her wounded scalp, and he was still behaving belligerently toward her, he menacingly asked, “Does it hurt?”

Narcissistic Personality Disorder spurs ‘gaslighting’ and projection onto others constantly. Trump performs gaslighting on the grand scale, to an entire nation, and the world. For instance, in the immediate wake of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburg Trump blamed the victims, repeating (three times, like a broken record) his absurd theory that their fate might have been different had they had an armed guard on the premises, implying that it was their own negligence that resulted in the slaughter of their congregation members.

His response is classical gaslighting, ignoring the fact that three armed policemen in protective gear were shot while responding to the emergency, that the shooter was a self-identified ‘nationalist,’ like himself, who uttered ‘making America great again,” before he began shooting, and that his own rhetoric bears incalculably more responsibility for the tragedy than a place of worship that didn’t think to hire an armed guard to protect their services, in one of the biggest cities in the U.S., where there is ostensibly freedom of religion and the Constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Some populations, tuned to despots, eat it up. The insane unreason of it is beyond reckoning, though the temptation is to try to tally, to parse, to understand… There is no logic to it beyond watching a junkie continually, easily, avidly procuring his fix, with no check on his addicted feeding, all of his gorging availed at our and the world’s expense, his captive audience, as he gracelessly occupies the (formally) most elite seat of power and prestige in the world. Astonishing. Preposterous. Profane. A great humbling of American hegemony.

“The Primary Narcissistic Supply is attention, in both its public forms (fame, notoriety, infamy, celebrity) and its private, interpersonal, forms (adoration, adulation, applause, fear, repulsion). It is important to understand that attention of any kind — positive or negative — constitutes Primary Narcissistic Supply.…Narcissistic Supply really refers to those people who provide a constant source of attention, approval, adoration, admiration, etc., for the narcissist.” (Psychology Today)

I think that certain populations are tuned to respond to narcissistic malevolence and threatening behaviour, though, to be fair, most everyone is susceptible to the psychological abuse and bullying entailed in a narcissist’s manipulations. Those indoctrinated by masculinized authoritarian credos and conditioned to obey paradigmatic ‘strong man’ type ‘leaders,’ who subscribe to an ideology that posits the Earth, women, minorities as ‘low,’ impure or base, demonizing them as the alien and polluted ‘Other,’ Evangelicals, Fundamentalist or orthodox Catholics (tuned to doctrinal precepts like absolute external authority, infallibility, paradigmatic divine masculinity etc.), homosocial militant societies, and Nationalist movements are particularly vulnerable.

The endangered democratic nation of Brazil is in the process of likely electing a violently militaristic, homophobic, misogynist, racist, Far-Religious Right monstrosity (Jair Bolsonaro) to its presidency. Deep-seeded religious biases against women, homosexuals, Jews, and dark-skinned races dating from the eras of slavery, Biblical injunctions against women and racial or religious ‘Others,’ and other exploitative institutions from the Eurocentric colonial past, make his election — and the elevation of his vicious brand of tyranny — almost inevitable. Across the globe, Europe’s historical socio-economic, religio-ideological hegemony is now bearing its most poisonous fruit, in the hands of populations both terrorized and ‘converted’ to the idealization of despotic rule.

As amply reported:

Bolsonaro is a pro-gun, pro-torture, small-government politician who said he is “in favor of dictatorship.” He has been charged with hate speech by Brazil’s attorney general and was stabbed and nearly died while campaigning for the presidency.

Here’s what else Bolsonaro has said:

Politics

“Since I was a bachelor at the time, I used the money to have sex with people.”

Explaining in a 2018 Brazilian newspaper interview how he spent the official housing allowance money he received as a congressman.

“Elections won’t change anything in this country. It will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die.

From a 1999 interview on Brazilian television.

Race

“I visited a quilombo (a settlement founded and organized by the descendants of slaves) and the least heavy afro-descendant weighed seven arrobas (about 230 pounds). They do nothing! They are not even good for procreation.”

From a 2017 speech at Rio de Janeiro’s Hebraica Club, a community center.

Rape

“I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.”

From a 2014 exchange with congresswoman Maria do Rosario in Brazil’s lower house. Rosario had claimed that Bolsonaro’s remarks had encouraged rape. In a subsequent newspaper interview, Bolsonaro said Rosario was “not worth raping; she is very ugly.”

Sexual orientation

“I would prefer my son to die in an accident than be gay.”

From a 2011 interview with Playboy magazine. Bolsonaro said he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son,” adding: “If a gay couple came to live in my building, my property will lose value. If they walk around holding hands, kissing, it will lose value!”

Torture

“I’m in favor of torture, you know that. And the people are in favor as well.”

From an appearance on Brazilian television in 1999.

Women

“Because women get more labor rights than men, meaning they get maternity leave, the employer prefers to hire men. I would not employ (a woman) with the same salary (of a man). But there are many women who are competent.”

From an appearance on Brazilian television in 2016.

“A moment of weakness.”

Describing in a speech this year that he had a daughter after four sons.

There are other, more modest signs of the White Male Narcissistic Wound, besides the Post-Colonial world resonating to the siren songs of Right-leaning despots. While suicide rates in the rest of the world are steadily decreasing, in the U.S. they are spiking exorbitantly. A 2018 BBC documentary describes the phenomenon thusly: “Every year, nearly 45,000 people in America kill themselves. That is more than twice the number that die in homicides, and the numbers are increasing. There is one group in particular causing this spike — white, middle aged men. India Rakusen goes to Montana, where suicide rates are double the national average, to find out what drives so many of these men to despair and taking their own lives.”

By and large, Rakusen and her research revealed that the disillusion driving the self-annihilation of relatively large numbers of White middle-aged men in America was the discovery that they were not actually the crowns of creation — not dominant, not supreme, not destined for great things by simple virtue of being White and male — that they were just like everybody else — that they were “ordinary.” This discovery caused at least one suicide attempt survivor to think that the world held no place for him, or at least, for his new apprehension of himself as a demoted, diminished, lowly, aging individual with a modest income, who had failed to live up to his rightful role as some kind of successful supreme being. In the documentary, aired in October 2018, this man still battles with the sense of inadequacy instilled in him for failing to prosper, much less prevail, as dominant and superior, on account of his race and sex. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdBRBmXlkrg)

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I'm a writer/researcher/arts educator on Vancouver Island and all round global citizen who loves humans even though we're such a phenomenal pain-in-the-ass.

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Yvonne Owens, PhD

Yvonne Owens, PhD

I'm a writer/researcher/arts educator on Vancouver Island and all round global citizen who loves humans even though we're such a phenomenal pain-in-the-ass.

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