Politics is all about compromise, which means both sides may not always get 100 percent of what they want. But what will happen when President Donald Trump does not get his way, perhaps when his spurious border wall is not approved by Congress? My prediction is that it will be emotionally devastating for Trump given his character flaws.
In the best-selling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” I called Donald Trump an Other-Blamer, although if we used the terminology of traditional psychiatry, he could also be diagnosed as with Narcissistic or Anti-Social Personality Disorder. The label is inconsequential, although Other-Blamer identifies exactly what is wrong with this type of person.
Because of their low self-worth, Other-Blamers have elevated fears of being judged as inadequate and experiencing shame. When they perceive failure or humiliation, they become angry and lash out in blame toward others. They also stubbornly stick to positions or beliefs that may be completely false or ludicrous, merely to protect themselves from shame. This is exactly what is happening with Trump and his “Build the Wall” mantra.
I have personal experience with an Other-Blamer’s fear of humiliation. My ex-husband Ray had a fear of attending comedy shows, because he worried he would be made fun of by the comic. When we did attend one at a local fundraiser, he became extremely tense and drank excessively. I was not a psychologist at the time, so I did not understand why he was reacting this way. He was, on the surface, a very, very confident and outgoing person. However, his inner insecurities gnawed at him that night. On the way home while I was driving and a friend of mine was in the front seat, Ray thought we were laughing at him. He became overwhelmed with shame and dived out of the car while it was going 45 miles per hour. He walked home from miles away.
I tell this story to show the dreadful — literally, full of dread — experience that Other-Blamers have when they face potential embarrassment. While shame is a difficult emotion for even the most self-assured of us, it brings a sense of existential panic to an Other-Blamer.
While Other-blamers want to avoid humiliation, they also crave adulation, which is also patently obvious in Trump’s love of an ostentatious lifestyle, trophy wives, and pomp-filled military parades.
Once one understands their underlying shame intolerance, Other-Blamer behavior is extremely predictable. The danger is that when humiliated – and it may not take much – Other-Blamers can react with severe personal attacks, vengeance, blind rage, and unexpected violence.
Ray would become irrationally angry when he imagined that I was having affairs with men, He even accused me of having affair with a flamboyantly gay man and an 80-year-old man. His fear of possibly being humiliated in this way was enough to drive him into a violent rage.
When an extreme, abusive Other-Blamer feels rejected by a partner and experiences deep shame, he lacks the emotional resilience to tolerate this experience or admit his role in the breakup. The abuser may go into a desperate survival panic to rid himself of the awful feeling of unworthiness and shame. His emotional response is to off-load the blame to his partner.
In some cases, the primary emotion of shame unleashes the secondary emotion of anger. Sadly, the result can be physical abuse of the partner.
As I have written numerous times, Trump exhibits all of the behaviors of an abusive partner. He is dangerous, blames others extensively for his own faults, flies into fits, has a propensity for violence, and a belief that he is above the law and should not be held accountable.
Trump has repeatedly spoken and tweeted about his fears of the U.S. being laughed at. This fits the pattern, because narcissists and Other-blamers tend to project their fears outward onto others. If Trump has a fear of being laughed at he will assign that fear to someone else, such as the entire country. Generally, if Other-Blamers say it about someone else, you can hold up a mirror and assign that emotion, belief or experience back onto them – a behavior called projection.
After the car-diving incident, Ray came up with all kinds of excuses and blame-shifting to explain his behavior. Later on, that incident became a reason to become violent with me — as if I had somehow been the cause of his imagined, potential humiliation at the comedy club.
In the same way, Trump will find a way to rationalize the humiliation he feels when he finally loses in a fight with Congress, or, much more concerning, will hold a grudge and find a way to retaliate. This is what is frightening about Other-Blamers. They do not let go of shameful experiences in a healthy way, but find ways to lash out at others in vengeance and even violence, often years later.
We can see many examples of this with Trump, notably his reaction to being teased by President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondent’s dinnerin 2011. He had spent years personally attacking and demeaning President Barack Obama on the issue of his birth certificate, yet he could not even tolerate a few jokes at his own expense. At the dinner, rather than laugh along and let the roasting roll off his back, he stormed out of the event early. He over-reacted with hostility and anger and has engaged in ceaseless retribution since then. Many believe he committed more seriously to run for president after that event. Notably, Trump has twice declined to attendthe White House Correspondent’s dinner since becoming president, more evidence of his thin skin.
Trump has also been very obvious in his attempts to undo many policies that President Obama advocated, as if in payback.
Throughout his career he has only worked for his father or himself, so he never had to learn to acquiesce to a more powerful authority figure. Other-Blamers often have difficulty working in hierarchical employment settings and often decide to work for themselves so they do not have to accommodate others’ needs. Now that Trump has the power of the presidency behind him, there are few who feel strong enough to challenge him.
I do not believe we should have a leader in the presidency with a character flaw that engenders behaviors so severely devoid of morality. For people like Trump, humiliations do not dissipate, but fester into grudges and rage reactions. Allowing him access to the nuclear codes that permit him to single-handedly launch world-destroying weapons is a recipe for true disaster, given his blatant and longstanding impulsivity, rage, vengefulness, and sadism. Even if this extreme does not occur, he will continue to make irrational decisions based not on what is best for the country, but only what is best to assuage his damaged ego. Retribution will be his only motive.
Remember with Other-Blamers: They are dangerous, not because they are strong, but because they are weak.
You may also like: Trump’s Fearful World View is the Greatest Danger
We Can’t Wait for a Sign that Trump is Unraveling