Trump and the anti-heroic loss of the 2020 election in light of psychoanalysis
By Ofir Bergman Perry
The requiem for the Trump Presidency in the shadow of Narcissism
Ofir Bergman Perry, MA,
Tamir Institute, Chief Operating Officer
Even his last name resembles the word “Triumph” - victory. Every election ends with the winners cries of victory, and from the other side, the defeated voices are no less thunderous.
But this election’s campaign was different from any other, a symbol of Donald Trump's tenure.
I am not a political commentator, nor are we dealing with politics. The purpose of this article is to discuss Trump's personality and understand his methods of action. Since he is still the most influential person in the world - how is the world affected by his personality?
An interesting example of Trump's methods is his seclusion in the White House since the announcement. He is unwilling to accept his defeat and claims that Biden was elected by deception and that the votes should be counted again.
In the entire history of the United States, no incumbent president has ever reacted this way. It is customary to call and congratulate the president-elect, and to admit defeat with grace.
According to Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner, it is human to hate defeat twice as much as to love victory (Kahneman and Tversky from Value Theory, 1979).
For Trump, however, the hatred of defeat seems to be mixed with something else, something that the psychological world of concepts can explain.
If we think about it for a moment, the situation of running for presidency of the United States – gaining a crushing victory – acting as president – running a second race - defeat – this is a real transition from Igra Rama to Bira Amikata.) Proverb in Aramaic – approximate meaning: from a high spot to a deep well)
Who among us cannot identify with such a sense of failure…?
Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. Studies show that the sense of failure is located in the Anterior Midsingular Cortex of the cerebral region, which also represents grief and acute pain (2014, Ullsperger, 2012). If so, there will be those who will say that the outgoing president's behavior is natural. He is experiencing a huge failure and therefore this inevitable emotional response.
However, an important criterion of a "healthy personality" is the ability to regulate emotions. What we are witnessing is President Trump, surprisingly or not, behaving in a way that is not adaptive to the current situation.
Positive and negative narcissism
One of the most important and respected psychoanalysts of our generation, Otto Kernberg, proposed foundations for understanding normal and pathological narcissism.
As in every aspect of the psychological world, we are talking about the axis between the normal and the abnormal. I do not intend to represent an opinion about Trump's personality, or mental state, but to offer a new way of looking at how he conducts himself.
Normal narcissism exists in all of us. It makes us take care of ourselves and also feel empathy for the other.
Pathological narcissism, on the other hand, is primary childlike protection against feelings of severe inferiority.
Outwardly, the pathological narcissistic person values himself highly and walks around with a sense of grandiosity in the world. Within himself, however, he feels immense insecurity and is unable to be empathetic towards the other.
In light of Trump's actions, he does not seem to be able to accept the fact that someone has "defeated" him.
As in pathological narcissism, in which the person is unable to contain his being second, here too, Trump is unable to contain his loss and explains it with external reasons.
In addition, throughout the election campaign, any possibility of Joe Biden's victory was completely ruled out by him.
I believe he honestly did not think of such a situation occurring.
Moreover, he made sure to surround himself with people who never undermined his irrational thoughts.
After all, there always is a chance of defeat.
The normal narcissist knows how to contain loss, absorb it into his life experiences and move on with renewed strength.
From now on, it will be interesting to see how Trump deals with the loss, until the actual end of his term in about two months, and what he will do after completing the role that provided him with the highest protection for his narcissistic ego.
Wessel, J. R., Danielmeier, C., Morton, J. B., & Ullsperger, M. (2012). Surprise and error: common neuronal architecture for the processing of errors and novelty. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(22), 7528-7537
Ullsperger, M., Fischer, A. G., Nigbur, R., & Endrass, T. (2014). Neural mechanisms and temporal dynamics of performance monitoring. Trends in cognitive sciences, 18(5), 259-267
Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). On the interpretation of intuitive probability: A reply to Jonathan Cohen