Watching Donald Trump insist that, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, he is “100% right” about Muslim citizens in New Jersey celebrating the annihilation of the World Trade Center on 9/11, is a revealing look at the mind of a narcissist. I didn’t know the exact pathology this attribute fit into; this inability to be wrong. But a little research shows it to be a common trait of narcissism. He seems to have all of them in spades: “Pride, insecurity, lack of insight and self reflection – common narc traits, along with lying, deflecting, attacking.”[1}
One of Trump’s regular defense mechanisms when called out on dubious claims is to bring other anonymous supporters in with him. ‘Everybody knows this,’ or ‘lots of people are saying this,’ or ‘I know lots of people who agree with me’ are just a few of his routine catch phrases. When Chuck Todd told Trump on Meet The Press that the alleged video he claims to have seen on 9/11 didn’t exist, and that it’s nothing more than myth and urban legend, he supplied his built in cheerleading squad and told Todd that “hundreds of people have told him they saw it too,” and that people were tweeting that they also saw it.
I will give him the benefit of the doubt and grant him a false memory. 9/11 was a life-changing event and it would be understandable to have false memories of that time from the shock and horror of the event and everything that happened in its wake. There actually is video of people in the Middle East, on 9/11 upon hearing of the attacks, who seem to be in support of it, or at least seem pleased about it. To call it celebrating would be a stretch, but let’s run with that a moment. It’s very possible that Trump remembers those videos but incorrectly placed those revelers in New Jersey in his mind. Studies have shown that when we recollect a memory, it is very possible we will get small facts wrong about the event, and that every subsequent time we recollect it, we recollect it with the newly changed facts. Do it often enough over many years, and the memory is vastly different from the actual event. So I’ll let Donald off the hook. However, once evidence shows that you are remembering something incorrectly, a clear, thoughtful and logical mind would accept this information, as difficult as it may be, and recognize that they may be mistaken. This is where the narcissist fails the reasoned mind test and Trump fails it often.
Carly Fiorina has done something similar with the Planned Parenthood rant she went on during one of the GOP debates. She described a particularly salacious detail of a heavily edited video, compiled after a “sting” operation against Planned Parenthood by anti-abortionists. Despite being confronted with the fact that the scene she so painstakingly described doesn’t exist, she doubled down and continue to insist that she’d seen it. I haven’t seen her display all the traits that Trump has, but lying and attacking she is particularly adept with.
Ben Carson has a unique flaw in his thinking that also prevents him from admitting he’s wrong. He has the delusional mind of the deeply religious who has no problem denying known scientific knowledge about the world, and even fabricating his own “personal theory” about things like the Egyptian pyramids. I don’t think he fits as neatly into the narcissist disorder as Trump and to a lesser extent, Fiorina does. Carson is suffering the effects of brainwashing and indoctrination so that facts and concepts that disagree with what he’s been sold must be denied or ignored.
It isn’t every day that we get to see these kinds of blatant displays of behavioral pathology, and the ramifications of this kind of broken thinking. The attack against Planned Parenthood in Colorado was almost certainly motivated by the lie Fiorina told and that media outlets happily reported on ad nauseum. The shooter told police that “no more baby parts” was at least one reason he went into a Planned Parenthood and murdered and injured innocent people. I can’t even imagine the wreckage that would be left in the wake of a Presidency by one of these three cranks.