We all know by now that Trump is a malignant narcissist. He’s an anti-masker. He’s anti social-distancing. He downplays the danger and severity of Coronavirus even though he has had it himself. He makes fun of people who are responsible and follow “the guidelines” to protect themselves and others against the virus.
I never thought narcissism could predispose people to be risk death in a pandemic. To become “anti-maskers” and COVID-19 rule breakers too. Several recent studies concluded that narcissistic behavior has likely contributed to noncompliance with public health standards during this pandemic. You can see narcissistic tendencies in people who feel that they are special and believe sensible rules don’t apply to them. Narcissism underlies and heightens their lack of caring about others. These are people who focus on their “rights” or their “inconveniences” rather than recognizing that obeying these rules helps other folks as well as the community as a whole.
According to psychologists, narcissists characteristically lack empathy. They feel grandiose and entitled. They do what they want, so if what they want is contrary to what the rules allow, they ignore the rules. These antisocial traits predispose large swaths of the American citizens to refuse to adhere to safety health measures –like mask-wearing, social-distancing and avoiding large groups. All of which have been put in place to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
Rhetoric from all of the COVID rule-breakers highlight stunning examples of lack of empathy along with feelings of entitlement. Statements like “I don’t have to” and “You have no right to tell me what to do,” even if it’s for the common good, are typical. The rage, oppositionality, and childlike petulance are characteristic of narcissists. Somehow, you’d think actual life-and-death danger might make even narcissists stop and think about the potential effects of their behavior, but apparently not.
The U.S. is known to have higher levels of narcissistic personalities than other western democracies and no one knows why. Maybe it’s the nature of the people who came here from other places? No one is surprised that these personality issues have kept America from effectively minimizing the spread of the Coronavirus. We have actually been among the worst countries in controlling the virus and have among the highest rates of both infections and deaths — and since England is right in there with us, maybe that’s the common factor?
Perhaps the take-away from our dismal handling of this worldwide crisis is if we want to accomplish anything nationally in our future, we need to address the narcissism of a substantial block of our population.
To move forward, we need cooperation from the majority of our citizens, To make meaningful inroads into some of the attitudinal and other social issues we face — such as racism, sexism and homophobia — we’ll never eliminate these problems when more than a third of the country are reluctant to address their prejudices and refuse to be told what to think or do.
Unless most people are willing to accept majority-held values based on science, statistics, research, and facts, we’ll continue to butt our heads against these self-built walls for generations to come. It’s not a pretty picture.