The BBC posted a good article on Tuesday, about what it’s like to be a narcissist. I often joke that the world revolves around me (and I even own a t-shirt to that effect, similar to the one above), but the reality is, I’m rather glad I’m not. It’s not a happy life that a narcissist lives.
The research published earlier this year showed that the higher participants scored on a questionnaire measure of narcissism, the less connective tissue they had between the medial prefrontal cortex – a brain region associated with thinking about the self – and the ventral striatum, which is a region tied to the experience of reward and pleasure. The researchers said this “internal deficit in self-reward connectivity” might make it difficult for narcissists to think positively about themselves and that it could explain why they are always trying so hard to get attention and shore up their self-confidence.
But there is still hope for the narcissists — even, dare I say it, for a certain Presidential candidate.
There’s even some evidence that with a little encouragement – asking them to take other people’s perspective – narcissists can be nudged into showing greater empathy.
I am not saying that having a narcissist as the President of the United States is a good idea. To the contrary, it’s probably a horrible idea. But after we make sure he loses in November, let’s let the hate drain away, and remember to treat him with pity. After all, to quote Tolkien:
[Frodo:] “What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature when he had a chance!”
[Gandalf:] “Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”
“I am sorry,” said Frodo. “But I am frightened, and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.”
“You have not seen him,” Gandalf broke in.
“No, and I don’t want to,” said Frodo. “I can’t understand you. Do you mean to save that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate, he is as bad as an orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.”
“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it.”
Donald Trump, like Gollum, isn’t some faceless, inhuman monster. He’s a person, albeit a foully-twisted, hateful, and repugnant one. He has risen nearly to the very top, and thus his fall is going to be a mighty one.
Remember, when he is at our feet come November, that he is still a person, and not to be kicked when he is down. The difference between us and the assholes is that we can show Pity and Mercy to our enemies, because we recognize them as people: badly damaged, but still people. And maybe that Pity and Mercy could redeem him.
I have not much hope that Donald Trump can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it.