Like others before, I have reached a point where I give up hesitating to add my voice on dangers inflicted on all of us by the current incumbent of the Office of the President of the United States of America. As a former public servant I feel like many former holders of office in the U.S., staying out of a polarised antagonizing debate. But like others, I see that I can not uphold this reservation any longer. However, I am not doing this because I want to join the polarised army of do-gooders. I am doing this because I want to make a point by saying that, potentially, an important piece in the puzzle explaining what is happening may still be missing. A piece which might help in better predicting of what will happen in the weeks and months ahead.
October 5, 2020: Over my last tea before falling asleep I watched news about the President of the United States returning to the White House from Walter Reed Hospital despite a still ongoing medical treatment of a Covid-19-infection which had led to a hospitalisation just a few days earlier. I could see the story he was about to tell already in his preceeding tweets in which he spoke so ominously about what he had learned, that he really got it, and how good he feels. He was prepping his followership for the pathetic show ahead.
The evening news carried the story of him returning to the White House. From everything medical experts can tell, it is near certain that he continued to be contagious when he, in a premeditated way walking up an illuminated stairway to the second level of the White House, took off his face-mask with a pompous fake gesture of dignity, saluting Marine One as the helicopter flew off. Like to millions of other people it looked ridiculously childish and immature to me, but it was a calculated gesture aiming for a core audience within his base of followers: The believers and superspreaders of conspiracy theories that elevate him to the protector of the American people against all evil, including the monsters from Avengers’ Endgame lurking at the fences of the White House premises. Equal “monsters” with “Dems” and “Fake Press”, then you have the story he tells, and further develops.
I consumed the outrage and frenzy of the press about it, including about his callous calling on the American people not to take the virus too seriously, through some Twitter messages earlier that evening, before he left Walter Reed Hospital.
Then I woke up the following morning and I watched the news about his re-playing the helicopter salutation after Marine One had left. The aim was to shoot “proper” footage that could be used for a pompous and manipulative display of his godly return to the office for his followers. The news read: “Infected Trump re-shoots entrance into White House with camera crew https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/10/05/trump-no-mask-white-house-camera-crew-balcony-collins-lklv-ebof-vpx.cnn“. The polarized press acted on it either with messages of appreciation, or, like the above, with ever louder outrage. I watched anchormen and commenters in utter exasperation, displaying helplessness, and fury, literally with tears in their eyes, in light of more than 200.000 Covid-19-deaths in the U.S. alone, at that time, and still counting.
Many of those who read my blog have watched that by themselves, so what is my point? What is the additional thing that makes this blog entry standing apart from just being another outcry of anger and hurt? In order to see where Trump is going, one needs to understand the inner workings of his mind first. Much has been said there, some has not. I am venturing into the part which has not been said, as far as I can tell.
Throughout October 6 it quickly transpired that the pompous setup of the night before was to support establishing the storytelling narrative of a heroic selfless leader who went through all this at the virtual frontline of an alleged pandemic for his people. Or so he told through his Twitterphone. My point is that this, at best, may be only half of the truth. At worse, it may be a by-product of something much more serious: A high-risk gambling pattern that can be identified in Trump’s life on uncounted occasions, and including as recent as during the last elections. It is not only that Donald Trump re-invents himself in a situation of financial or political bancruptcy. I suspect that he may, consciously or not, create the situations from which he then seemingly escapes, demonstrating his “unique capacity” to re-define himself against all odds. I suspect that he may have no choice but doing just that, because he may need that kick.
We know from psychological experts that he appears to be on the extreme end of a narcissistic scale, and that he is absolutely incapable to empathise, which is also an indication for a severe sociopathic disorder. However, stories like the above make me believe that he, in addition, may carry the hallmarks of a severe addiction disorder.
Trump has a track record of being at his best in manipulating a situation when everyone believes that he already has lost the battle, by appearing to foolishly placing the noose around his own neck. Think, for example, the second debate at the eve of the 2016 elections: Remember the Locker Room Talks? I believe that he may actively get himself into these seemingly foolish situations because he needs the kick from a high-risk gamble which, at the end, needs to demonstrate his superiority. The more often he is winning this game, the more often he needs it, and the deeper his own delusional belief in his superiority. If I look at the super-spreader event one week earlier in the Rose Garden when he announced his candidate for the vacancy at the U.S. Supreme Court, I can not help but ask: How much of this carelessness is based on delusional thinking, how much is based on cold-blooded knowledge, and how much is based on the mindblowingly selfish and destructive, reality-denying mind of an addict who has no means to stop doing whatever is needed for getting the kick? We know from troves of scientific research, as well as from all practical experience represented by recovering addicts that the strongest kicks come from behavioral addictive patterns, not from substance abuse. You can be an addict of the worst kind, destroying yourself and others, without drinking, smoking, or doing drugs.
In this version of attempting to explain what happened, Trump literally would have no choice: He would have to get the virus, to run the risks involved because there was no other way to get the next kick. Like the heroin addict knowing there is a risk of OD’ing, and a part of that person’s mind even hoping that this is happening.
This is like to create the rabbit hole yourself that you then slide down. Success reinforces his belief in his superiority, and at the very same time, the ever deepening craving to feel more of the kick, again. In this vicious cycle, nothing is good enough for repetition, the kick requires more of the same, in ever increasing doses, and in ever shorter cycles.
We may witness the moment of history giving birth to an autocrat of the most dangerous kind: A person suffering from the combined delusional effects stemming from narcissism, sociopathic disorder, and behavioral addiction to power and extreme forms of gambling: The narcissist persona requires the constant need of being validated as superior and invincible. The sociopath persona provides the cold-blooded analytical capability of knowing how to manipulate other people for reckless application of own selfish needs only. Remember: Sociopaths are masters in identifying the weak and blind spots of empaths. They have a PhD in manipulation sciences. But the addict persona adds the need for the kick through high-risk gambling, as we have seen in the 2016 elections, and everything before, and after, until today.
The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was clearly exasperated when she, on October 7, spoke about the potential impact of steroids on the President’s thinking and decisionmaking as he was telling his negotiators to walk away from talks on a stimulus package relieving American people from economic effects of the Covid-19-pandemic. If my contribution to explaining Donald Trump’s behavior is correct, this may be true, but only be a part of the story: The other part is the elated feeling coming from a mind-altering drug which is produced by the body itself: Dopamine. I highly reccommend the book “The Deepest Well” by Nadine Burke Harris. Read what she has to say on the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on, in this case, the Ventral Tegmental Area of the human brain.
Assuming the above scenario is true, what would be different compared to what we already know? In this scenario
(1) Trump’s unwillingness to concede any defeat has to be understood as an absolute inability to concede defeat;
(2) The delusional storytelling creates a personal world in which leaving the White House is impossible to even think about. It is a mental no-go-area, the option of walking out with dignity does not exist. Myriads of options exist how to make it happen to stay, and to get kicks all along the way;
(3) Meaning that, if that would be true, any assessment characterizing his mental state as “panicking” would need correction. Because, how fatigued must a 74-year-old be after a life with so many panicking moments? No, it is not fatiguing, it is creating a kick;
(4) Meaning that, if that would be true, we see the progressive part. The need for a kick comes in shorter intervals, and the dose needs to be much higher in order to achieve any effect. That then constitutes the real danger for the American people, and the World;
(5) How could the above be proven? In theory, that is easy: Take away his Twitterphone and you will see the effects of withdrawal. In practice, it is impossible: Try to take away the Twittertoy from the President of the United States, and you will be in trouble.
The reckless insane behavior of this incumbent of the great Office of the President of the United States puts not only my values, but my life, and the life of my children at grave risk. I am not morally judging Donald Trump. Many of my blog entries are being motivated by the desire to understand the devastating impact of a brain disease called “addiction“. I feel great pity and compassion for Donald Trump. The problem: This person has a “red button” at close range, carried around by an aide whereever the President goes.
One thought on “On storytelling”
Well said and written Stefan – Congratulations!