Donald Trump, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, AZ, flag
President Donald J. Trump speaking with supporters at a rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, AZ. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0) and Boston Harborfest / Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Trump is not a regular person. He is someone who would burn everything to the ground to get what he wants.

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In an effort to appear balanced, journalists often do not tell their readers apparent truths. They call lies “misstatements” or make people who act in bad faith appear to be well-meaning stakeholders. One such truth is that former President Donald Trump is mentally ill. At the very least, he is a compulsive liar and a malignant narcissist. He did not choose to be that way, of course, and, if he were just a regular person, we would feel sorry for him and just hope he gets treatment (which he should in any case).

Sadly, Trump is not a regular person. He is someone who would burn everything to the ground to get what he wants. That’s not out of the ordinary behavior for a malignant narcissist, but what is unusual is the scope in which Trump can exercise his narcissistic behavior. We just saw this laid out in his latest indictment: Given the opportunity, he will tear the Constitution and US democracy to shreds if that means he isn’t a “loser,” which is one of his favorite words.

Obviously, a lot of this has been pointed out already, but we tend to forget these things, so here is a reminder: Trump is not well. He is not a normal person. 

To figure this out, just browse his account on Truth Social, a website that was built for one simple reason: to create a social media platform on which rules don’t apply to the former president and where he can get the adulation he craves. 

Usually in all caps, he lashes out at his enemies, calls them names, and responds to any real or perceived slight or challenge to him. Here is one from this week: 


If you met a guy on the street who was ranting about anything the way Trump rants about everything, you’d cross the street. If it’s an uncle at Thanksgiving, you’d look at each other uncomfortably and hope dinner is over soon. And, if he hadn’t been born with a gold spoon in his mouth, it seems likely that Trump would be spending his days yelling at tourists in Times Square and telling them that someone is after him.

One failure of journalism is to not spell this out repeatedly. That’s not bias, that’s truth-telling. It’s no different from covering the NBA draft and pointing out that a player is really tall. That’s just how it is. 

Now, especially if you are part of Trump’s cult, you might be saying: “That mean journalist just doesn’t like my orange-faced Messiah.” 

If you belong to that group of people, judge for yourself. Here are some of the signs that someone might be a malignant narcissist: 

Individuals suffering from this mental disorder are preoccupied with fantasies about beauty, brilliance, success, and power. For example, they might tell you that they are a stable genius or talk incessantly about being a great businessman even though they managed to run various businesses into the ground. 

Malignant narcissists are unable to handle criticism and have a tendency to lash out if they feel slighted (here we could link to a video of any Trump rally). 

They also try to take advantage of others to get what they want, for example that could mean pressuring a vice president to try to overturn an election. Conversely, they blame others for their own bad behavior. 

In addition, people suffering from this disorder are very concerned about their appearance. This might cause them to slather bronzing cream all over their face or be obsessed about not appearing physically unfit or not well endowed

Malignant narcissists want to be treated as superior and lack empathy for others. They also monopolize conversations and/or mistreat people they view as inferior.

Many of these traits are the result of hidden insecurity. 

They also display an inflated sense of self and lack the ability to self-regulate. This could apply to a person who has lied in public 30,000 times over a four-year span. 

Furthermore, they don’t show remorse for hurting others and do not apologize to people they have hurt unless there is an implicit benefit (just Google “Trump apologizes” and judge for yourself).

People suffering from this disorder believe they deserve the best of everything, like a golden toilet or a chandelier in the bathroom where they keep classified documents. 

Malignant narcissists tend to view the world in black and white. You are either their friend or their enemy. They want to win at all costs and don’t care what that means for everybody else. 

Finally, they do whatever it takes to protect themselves from loss, or even inconvenience. 

In order to be deemed to be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, individuals have to meet five of these criteria. Not all of them, five. 

True to form, because he has to be the best, Trump meets all of them. He is a posterchild of malignant narcissism. 

And it’s important that we keep saying that. 


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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