Donald Trump, bullying pathologies and approval oxygen

This article in the Dallas Observer is an interesting examination of how the clear bullying side of Donald Trump relates not only to the pathology of people who behave like bullies, but also feeds off the approval of observers and participants in group rituals.
This is not a new discovery for me. As a person who was bullied in high school, I learned very quickly that bullies can become revered figures amongst peer groups. Their bad behavior is actually lauded as evidence of “toughness”. So when Donald Trump’s audiences cheered his excoriation of the media, or laughed at his mocking of a reporter’s disability, I immediately recognized the baying hounds of the mob, egging him on.
You see it in other contexts also. The NFL, the closest we have to a modern gladiatorial spectacle, is full of incidents of great skill, athleticism, bravery, fortitude – and grown men attempting to flatten opponents into the turf so that they end up being helped (or in some cases, carted) off the field.
No matter how everybody stands around looking concerned or worried after a player almost has his head knocked off, and is being attended to on the field, you can see, hear and feel the elemental “YEAH! RIGHT ON!” by crowd members when the player’s opponent delivers The Big Hit. You also get to see the victorious player strutting around briefly (being careful most of the time to stay within the taunting rules of course) celebrating the hit and being high-fived by players and coaches. Yep, that is also a microcosm time-slice of that same elemental, primitive group bonding, as Victorious Bully pre-emptively flattens Would-be Rival Bully.
Those howls of outrage from fans when it is suggested that perhaps the NFL should try to make itself less like a collision sport and more like a contact sport? You know, the people accusing the game of going “soft”, and accusing proponents of player safety of being “pussies” or “wimps”? Yep, those are probably some of the same people that brandish fanwear over their heads and make hammer-in-the-ground motions every time Their Guy flattens The Other Guy.
Going back to the Observer article…one of the interesting aspects of bullying pathology is also on display when you look at Donald Trump. Whenever he finds himself in a situation where he is denied uncritical instant approval for an action that is all about bullying or strutting dominance requiring approval, he suddenly collapses inward. He still tries to look macho and threatening, but the inner child-mouse suddenly appears. Suddenly Big Macho Donald looks like Silly Man With a Big Mouth and Small Dick Donald.
There are many reasons why Donald Trump has done badly in the debates (like the fact that he apparently regards preparation as something for pussies), but the main issue he has, I believe, is that the format simply does not allow him the opportunity to start bullying his opponents like he can when he has a pulpit, nobody else competing for attention, and 10,000 people cheering him on. Instead of being able to excoriate enemies and engage in tantrums, he is limited to interruptions of “WRONG!” or “what a nasty woman”, actions that lack any immediate impact because his opponent is talking, and which tend to transmit the signal to non-invested watchers, “hello, I am a dick”.
Bullies, like many insecure people, seek approval above all else. If they are denied it, it is like denying normal people oxygen. The threatening, the strutting, the triumphalism…all of those fall away, revealing a desperate, ridiculous person.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Healthprose pharmacy reviews