It’s long seemed to me that the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is missing a useful criterion, what a psychoanalyst friend of mine once referred to as the “unbalanced scale.” The unbalanced scale is characterized by an exasperating tendency of the narcissist (or anyone, for that matter) to hold others to a standard of conduct and behavior that he routinely and insouciantly flouts. The unbalanced scale can be inferred from, but is nowhere explicitly found, among the eight or nine existing diagnostic criteria for NPD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V, the reference book psychiatric professionals use to diagnose mental illnesses.
Donald Trump’s mental illness is Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a particularly pernicious form of NPD. Trump’s unbalanced scale manifests itself with such consistency that it’s a near certainty he is unaware of it. Take, for example, Trump’s recent outrage at the Saturday a Night Live “cold open” skit on the night of the 16th, when he tweeted, “How do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into.”
Well, Mr “president,” it’s called parody, and its protection is enshrined in the First Amendment. All of which is to say there is no “retribution” one may employ for using it. But it seems odd that a man who resorts to personal insults and mockery so frequently and freely when tweeting about others would be so thin-skinned when parody is employed against him. Parody, by the way, is protected by the very Constitution Trump has sworn to defend.
Alec Baldwin quite reasonably responded with a tweet of his own, “I wonder if a sitting President exhorting his followers that my role in a TV comedy qualifies me as an enemy of the people constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?” Given the violence shown to a BBC cameraman at Trump’s recent El Paso rally, that’s a question that is far from rhetorical.
Donald Trump is a pathological liar who accuses others of prevarication, a disloyal friend who demands blind, unrewarded fealty, a hurler of petty insults outraged by and unable to endure the smallest disparagement to himself. He is, simply put, a man with an unbalanced scale heavily tilted in his own favor.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.