A therapist explains why it seems like we’re watching Donald Trump ‘get stupider before our eyes’
Mark Cuban marveled that Donald Trump appears to be growing less intelligent as the presidential campaign wears on, and a professional psychotherapist explained how that’s not uncommon when getting to know someone with a severe character pathology.
“It’s rare that you see someone get stupider before your eyes,” said Cuban, who initially backed Trump during the Republican primary but has developed serious reservations over his apparent inability to learn necessary skills for the most important job in the world.
McElrath explained in a series of tweets how therapists nearly always develop a charitable sense of love for their clients, no matter what they reveal about themselves.
It's a sacred trust: people share their fears, their fantasies, their desires, their bad acts and bad thoughts…everything.
— 🌊 (@leahmcelrath) November 3, 2016
“Humanity, in all its brokenness, is dear, precious, and very, very (lovable),” McElrath said.
However, McElrath said she does not feel that same bond with clients with a “severe character pathology of the Cluster B type” — which often manifests in narcissistic or sociopathic behavior.
“We’ve seen that happen with Trump,” she said. “The more people have had a chance to get to know him, the less likable he’s become.”
She compared Trump and others with those personality disorders to vampires.
“They create a compelling ‘glamour’ spell which hides the rotten core of their true self,” McElrath said. “For a while.”
She said Trump’s supporters are drawn to him for many reasons, and some might even be seduced and repelled at the same time — which is not unusual for malignant narcissists.
“What happens, in short, is they reflect back to you what you desire,” McElrath said. “It’s a process of positive reverse projection.”
“In some cases, malignant narcissists reflect back to you an idealized version of…you,” she continued. “You fall in love with yourself. Powerful stuff.”
This reverse projection relies on the elimination of boundaries between the malignant narcissist and their target, she said — and the more a person identifies with the narcissist’s characteristics, the more vulnerable they are.
“Hence, it’s generally easier for women and (people of color) to differentiate our boundaries and see through the ‘glamour’ created by Trump’s projections,” McElrath explained.
McElrath said her experience with Trump, whom she’s been aware of since the 1980s, has been mostly repulsion.
“But I don’t identify with him at all,” she said. “So my boundaries with respect to him are strong.”