I like to submit questions to people in my social group on a regular basis to help me figure out the important issues of the day (or to just make sense of my crazy thoughts). One of the wisest people I associate with (who also plays Dungeons & Dragons with me) responded to two of my questions that I posed on Thursday. The first was in the form of a hypothesis, and here it is:
Many psychiatrists who I consider to be professionals within their field have diagnosed former President Trump as a psychopath. I agree with this diagnosis, based upon the things I have read. However, I also don't think he is beyond the norm if you were to consider how white males behaved in the 1940's and 1950's. So my question to my group was: If former president Trump (by modern standards) is a psychopath, does that mean that a lot of the men from the 1940's and 1950's would also be diagnosable as psychopaths? Does this mean that we are literally the children and grandchildren of psychopaths?
Just so you know, my group is pretty liberal. We have one or two conservatives kicking around, but I purposely exclude them from these discussions, because there is no point talking with them. I can learn nothing from them as I've lived around them in Utah and Idaho my entire life. I already know what they will say and can write it down ahead of time. They also possess a lot of "white fragility," which is a term that was not coined by me, but you can look it up on the internet if you like. Still interested in the answer I got? Then read on.
Most of my group was silent on this particular question. But Geneva responded with this (and I wanted to share):
"I think Trump, and many of his peers both historical and modern, are narcissists rather than psychopaths. Here's why: at the malignant end of the cluster B personality scale, the difference between someone with antisocial personality disorder (what used to be called sociopathy/psychopathy) and a malignant narcissist is that the narcissist cares about his public image. The person with antisocial personality disorder doesn't give a crap what other people thing. Trump and his ilk care deeply what others think, and lash out with rage if they feel that their outward facing image as a dominant "alpha wolf" has been compromised. The psychopath is less likely to act out publicly. He'll simply have you killed."
I find this very interesting, not only because of what Geneva had to say, but if she was right, then the people of the 1940's and 1950's who were white, straight, and male probably possessed diagnosable personality disorders like narcissism in above average quantities. But does the shoe fit? How would this compare to my own family? Well, knowing what I know and how mom and dad lived their lives, I can say with 100% certainty that (in my opinion) my father could probably have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (using modern standards). It explains so much in the terrors I experienced growing up, and the violence I saw within my own family.
I love that we have explanations and words to describe these disorders. It is so empowering, and it has allowed me to understand (and properly frame) events that I recall from childhood and teenaged years. Being able to understand behavior has helped me with healing. Have your life experiences been similar? Are you (as well) grateful for the words that we have available today to describe behaviors? If so, I'd like to hear about them in the comments. And have a nice weekend.