Dear Reader, the following work was written in June of 2016 and published four months before the 2016 election, in a book called ‘Trump in a Time of Narcissism’ from Chiron Press, an anthology by 17 psychoanalysts. For my part, I was intent on trying to awaken voters to the abject peril of a certain man running for the office of president, who appeared to be clearly, a near perfect example of a man with the sheen of, and suffering from malignant narcissism with likely an overlay of paranoia and with a sadistic impulse that appeared unboundaried and completely unmediated.
I wanted to show that this malignant personality has existed in myth and in reality many times over the centuries, and that our alertness now, and not making excuses for, but rather waking up and pushing back against such a damaging and destructive person, with all one’s rightful might, is the way to keep them from continuing to wreak mayhem and unleash maelstrom after maelstrom onto the innocent, naive and vulnerable.
May it be so for us all, all the way across the world: that we memorize the symptoms of harmful and deadly ‘grinning reapers’, that we remain awake and not just discuss– but also act in effective ways within our reach– to keep alliances with what is decent and helpful to the many, to insist on leaders who do not predate on us, who do not heap tragedy on us, who do not make us so without, so miserable, that we come to envy the dead.
Here are the congruences of evil action in the order they often come about –almost like clockwordk:::
Waking Up ::: Malignant Narcissism:
How Bluebeard and Hitler Came To Power
The story of Bluebeard is that of a psychopath who fools people by making grandiose promises to improve their lives [and breaking every promise given], seducing others into preening him constantly, demanding absolute loyalty to his world view, asking them to keep his evil secrets and when they cannot, or refuse to do so, he murders them, leaving them where they lay– and going on to his next festival, gala, rally. Hitler El mismo. The same.
Another poignant saying by Santayana is this one which will be familiar to many: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
I’d gently remind that some forget Santayana’s thoughts surrounding that sentence. Santayana is saying that when previous experiences [personal or about the world], that is stories, are not retained, the person is signing on for a perpetual infancy. I’d paraphrase it this way: Grow in wisdom, and remain alert by retaining in clearest memory –stories of how to, when to, why to –about both good and evil. This is the way of the insightful and leaderly adult.
Keep stories of actual past and present and potential future close, then act to mediate one’s world as needed. In courage. With clear vision, with wise courtesies, firm resolve, and no mealy mouthing around.
Winston Churchill said about Joe Stalin, ‘He’s an S.O.B., but he’s our SOB,’ and in so saying minimized Stalin’s murderous heart– and consigned murder and mayhem onto good and innocent people of Eastern Europe and beyond for the next near forty-five years. Colluding for temporary advantage makes no sense, when it causes the people to suffer long term.
As we say in our family, it is the stories we carry that allow us to be fully lit ‘memorial candles’ for those of our own and others who suffered so. We as the children of, the grandchildren of, the great-grandchildren of… can watch over and carry memory of great good and great evil –and how to proceed in good faith and effective action with it all– if only we ‘remember the past’ and tell the stories, [and there are literally millions of stories.] If only we tell them and remember their life-giving, life sparing instructions to live out and to pass on to others. Amen.
Suggested reading: I wish in such a brief letter, I could cover in a few pages an entire era, but it is not possible. However, to help point interested persons toward more topics to read about in the books of their choices, I add here for you some topics to study as you wish, and I hope you will.
Mein Kampf, My Struggle, by Adolf Hitler, written while he was in gentleman’s prison with many visitors. He was there for his role in a failed takeover of the government and he was found guilty of treason, and sentenced to ten years but oddly released after only nine months. What he learned in prison, and during his 24 days trial which was covered in great fanfare by the breathless press, was the power he could harness of the press to take his propaganda out to the world in ways his mere publishing of his writings could not match.
His book Mein Kampf, is in part a rant against those he perceives as ‘not loyal’ to himself and to his ideals: Gypsies, Jews, the infirm, Catholics, teachers, freethinkers, non-Nazis, persons without German citizenship.
His book can be found in many editions and many languages. The first time I read it, I found it a striking document in one way only: what Hitler projected onto the Jews he took upon himself to enact precisely. What he accused others of, he turned to do himself, wantonly,
–waiting for the princes to topple before the self-assigned ‘strong man’ steps in,
–rewriting law by fiat to suit oneself,
–crying ‘my beloved people’ of his constituency,
–two-facing all the way home,
–deceiving and impoverishing,
–gaining unpatrolled coverage by the press,
–but then taking over control of the free press… etc.’.
In probably the most coldblooded agenda ever seen, Hitler turned to do exactly what he projected onto others. He waited until the powers ‘that be’ were in disarray with one another. Then Hitler stepped in as der Führer, “the strong man,” smiling and bedecking himself in flowers for and with his ‘beloved people,’ taking control of the press to laud himself, then attempting to silence the press, then hiring the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, to God-ize himself, and more.
An archetype is not a stereotype, but rather a universal idea that has existed often across the world, inherited from earliest human thought, being transmitted without cross-cultural transmission overtly, and holding a special meaning that is often a bit to a great deal more than merely human. Archetype of ‘father’ is not the same as personal father. Archetype carries vast ideas about what ‘the idea of father means,’ often divine and well as mundane.
Hitler’s ‘my people’: I found in my studies useful to remember, ‘his people’ were not the majority. The majority of Germans did not belong to nor endorse the Nazi party. Hitler’s Nazi party is said to have held 33-44% of voters in Germany, depending on the early years when voting still took place. Hitler was not the leader of ‘the people’ as he proclaimed loudly. He was ‘the leader of a minority’… but through terror tactics like Kristallnacht [‘The night of the shattering glass’ assaulting Jews, their shops, their places of worship,
and evilly requiring afterward that Jews pay for all the thugs’ damages to their shops, land, people and dwellings] and other wholly horrific planned out and unprovoked unleashings, Hitler dominated through fear, and the claim that people would be better off, and that he would just get rid of ‘the vermin.’ As it turned out, enormous numbers of German people suffered, were left behind, starved literally and perished because of Hitler’s policies and greed to have ongoing excitement and arousal about other’s wholesale deaths.
For this point, one might review Hitler’s pre WWII actions in suddenly “annexing” Sudetenland, pouncing and warring with Czechoslovakia, the complicated multi-national decisions made by other nations, oddly often without the Czech people’s leaders’ presences] re fanning divisiveness between ethnic groups, breakup of their nation made of those several ethnic groups, and break up and redistribution of empires after WWI, and later, invasion of Poland, etc.
Referenced from Mein Kampf, My Struggle, by Adolf Hitler.
See the highly staged filmmaking of Leni Reifenstahl, Hitler’s ‘personal filmmaker’ hired, paid to create and– to inflate with music and images and grand scale staging, [to rival ‘The Ten Commandments’ film in scope,] to prove to the public domestically and abroad, how important a personage was Hitler, how powerful the preening, need-glutted dictator. [added note 10/2020 : Expect such a film from Trump very soon; heroic music, grandstanding, self aggrandizement as a propaganda to deceive… like Bluebeard, like Hitler].
Hitler’s love of the limelight for seduction of the masses, were central to his self-aggrandizement and grandiosity, these all being deep evidences of what is called in psychology, narcissistic personality disorder, and character disorder.
There is a saying in my deeply ethnic, refugee family [which I was adopted into as an older child] –a saying I teach when persons ask, ‘How could such evil have ever happened?’ — and they are speaking of some proximate unspeakable evil unleashed here and now, or ‘back then.’ I tell them of my father Jozsef and our family survivors of slave-labor camp imprisonment, those who said in many ways that evil is not understandable.
The way I’d word it, is this: “You cannot understand evil unless you are…” [are yourself evil… for to the usual person, it is beyond the pale to try to understand the dastardly, the insensible, for most persons are neither of those in action]. Though some have said they will take the time to confront ‘the evil of/in their own shadows,’ and once done, that is somehow enough… in our family, that would not salve nor bless.
Self-reflection could be first step for many, but the most needed steps are in the Bluebeard story: being bold; fitting the key to the forbidden door; swinging it open to admit broad daylight so that one and all can see what naïve or even cunning backing of a monster truly brings… so all can see the cheap seductions of being feasted and fattened and flattered–
are really only meant to disarm, so as to more easily bring new blood to feed the hungry ghost that can never be satiated.
Using the key [questions] to see clearly, then to speak clearly the underlying truths revealed, to speak in the ways of dignity, to aver that just because a monster can display a modicum of intelligence, that one ought not close one’s eyes to that that person’s largest driving force is to be a seductive candy-thrower without substance on one hand, and on the other, filled with contempt and mocking of others who see him as he really is, and call him not names, but call out the truths.
In the old psychological tales, there is nothing a vampire hates more than daylight. By seeing the monster’s hidden agenda, one can speak up, saying some version of, “There’s something wrong with that Bluebeard, starting with that “his beard is just too blue””. Noting the factual truths to others who have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, that Bluebeard hunts for prey to daily re-inflate his constantly deflating ego, along with his repetitive claims that he is ‘the only one’, and no one can exceed him, nor succeed him.
To note that he is far too quick to self-adore, being unable to rein in his extreme impulsiveness whenever he senses fresh energy in others, fresh blood…to score. And thus, the ones who see his true nature, [symbolized by first the sisters, family and friends in the tale, then the equally awakened brave brothers,] after seeing what the dictator forbade to be seen, move to right action– to speak, to condemn, to break the spell Bluebeard casts with false promises by exposing the falseness of them with ‘sharp edged, well honed’ facts.
To then speak the contravening facts, thereby exposing to the bone the evil intents. Thus is the malignant agenda interrupted and routed, that of Bluebeard, as well as the thugs who’ve enjoined him with like-kind hungry ghost, sick and desperately grasping ego schemes. In the tale, the bloodsucking avenues to the innocents, are severed. The better and deeply ‘sighted persons’ take up the opportunities to prevent evil from dominating… preventing the one who knowingly enacts multiple deceits, exposing Bluebeard as an over-reaching, self-anointing cold colossus who is not for life, but only for death
By cutting Bluebeard down to size one might say— life’s energy is freed to be used in far more reasoned ways that take humanity into account, that is, as right conduct, in which virtue and the visionary, rather than virulence and violence, are the ultimate goals, the penultimate prizes
My grandmother Katerín, who was in ‘perpetual little old lady bent over knitting in the corner’ mode, had her old country squinty-eyed, finger-raised insights too. One was a warning from the old gods, old school style: “He who attempts to be like the Gods will be punished by the Gods, not for conceit, but for falsifying the truly Godly.”
For this point, as interested, see the issues regarding the breaking off of Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia.
This cyanotic oddity in the Bluebeard tale, his hair, beard, skin having a blue cast, was not lost on the old women of the family. They were elderly and had borne witness in the village to many conditions in newborns, including what in the west were called ‘blue babies, ‘ a life threatening crisis of blood-oxygen starvation. [In time interventions were developed.]
Amongst our elderly women, there was the idea that oxygen starvation in the blood at any age could cause the skin to turn blue—and thereby cause the brain to also die in certain ways. On another note, given his deep need to ‘hunt human beings and kill them over and over again,’ the old woman also thought that persons like Hitler may have been assaulted regularly as a child, thereby addling/injuring his brain so that whatever brain center that governed and lit conscience– went dark.
Thereby they speculated that one might become a heartless person because of brain damage or head injury when young, or at any age, if the injury was repetitive and severe, and not mediated.
The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense by George Santayana. Scribner’s, 1905.
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés is a mestiza Chicana activist in service to the voiceless; as a post-trauma recovery specialist and psychoanalyst of 50 years clinical practice; and as a journalist covering stories of human suffering and hope.
A bestselling author [144 weeks New York Times Bestseller list], poet, and as post trauma recovery specialist, she served at Columbine High School and community for three years after the massacre. She continues to work with 9-11 survivor families on both coasts, and is known internationally as an expert on cults and other groups’ psychologies, and for her post-trauma recovery protocol used to deputize citizens quickly to help in the aftermath of disasters.
Her books are published in 42 foreign languages, and she is Managing Editor and Columnist writing on politics, business and culture at the political newsblog, The Moderate Voice. She occasionally writes for the Huffington Post, and an archive of her columns on culture and social justice can be found at National Catholic Reporter online, under her work called El Rio Debajo Del Rio, “The River Beneath the River.”
She was Governor Romer and Governor Owens appointed Chair of the Colorado State Grievance Board for thirteen years for the Department of Regulatory Agencies of Colorado, and is a 2006 inductee into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. She recently taught with Nobel Peace Prize winners Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. She made her premiere in spoken word with Dr. Toni Morrison and Dr. Maya Angelou at Carnegie Hall in 2006. She is currently featured in Emma Watson’s online book club of 24.5 million members.
She is now writing post-trauma recovery protocol in Spanish, English and with translators’ assistance, in three Mayan languages for the thousands of beleaguered children kidnapped from their families at the southern border of the United States. She and her Arabic translator have just completed the Post Trauma Protocol in Arabic for the people suffering from the aftermath of the explosions in Beirut. ‘There are never enough helping hands and voices after disasters. Everyone’s voices, hands and resources count.’
The image and paper/grid Waking Up ::: Malignant Narcissism:
How Bluebeard and Hitler Came To Power, is by ç.p. estés ©2020 all rights reserved