Malignant Narcissism: Does the President really have it? (Psychology Today)

On March 8 [2019], it was reported that former Massachusetts governor William Weld was exploring running against the president as a Republican, in part because of Trump’s “malignant narcissism.” What does that mean? And how would one determine whether President Trump suffers from this disorder?

What does “Malignant” Mean?

Erich Fromm was a psychiatrist in the United States who immigrated from Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. He was a world leader in many aspects of mental health and diagnosis. In his 1964 book, The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil, Fromm used this term for the first time when he identified the pathology of narcissism as having two types, “benign narcissism” and “malignant narcissism.”

Fromm said that benign narcissism focuses on pride in one’s work, one’s effort. In the process of achieving something, the person has to stay in touch with the reality around the task in order to accomplish it. “The energy which propels the work is, to a large extent, of a narcissistic nature, but the very fact that the work itself makes it necessary to be related to reality, constantly curbs the narcissism and keeps it within bounds. This mechanism may explain why we find so many narcissistic people who are at the same time highly creative.”

On the other hand, there is a malignant narcissism. This is not about achievement, but rather something the person thinks they inherently have that’s special, “for instance, his body, his looks, his health, his wealth, etc. … Malignant narcissism, thus, is not self-limiting.” Fromm gives examples of many historical figures who had this type…

Read the full article in Psychology Today here:


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