Trump Post-Presidency: Paroxysms of Narcissistic Supply Withdrawal

Dan Hanrahan
2 min readJun 11, 2023

How to explain Trump’s extreme and panicked behavior since losing in 2020? The manic beer belly putsch coup attempt on 1/6/21. The seemingly inexplicable and self-defeating stuffing of a Jersey-bound plane in Florida with boxes of subpoenaed, classified documents. Why? We are witnessing a prolonged & convulsive episode of narcissistic supply withdrawal.* The person with malignant narcissism never develops an actual, substantial self in young adulthood. In place of a self, they find a dark lacuna, an emptiness that can only be filled with outside reaction — adulation, fear, worship — or the thrill of manipulation and abuse. Outside response to a narcissist is as human blood to a vampire or heroin to a junkie: Without it, white hot panic and a brutal experience of inner absence takes over. This experience is one of utter terror: They go through the paroxysms of withdrawal and their behavior becomes more desperate and erratic. The Jim Jones murder-suicide pact in the jungle of Guyana can be seen as the most extreme and representative version of this. Donald has now called for his followers to amass in Miami on Tuesday to protest the indictment and these insane and fearful acts will continue until he regains power or dies or is treated for his malady and embarks on the road to recovery and the construction of the true self that stood little chance of developing in the household of the monstrous Fred Trump.

*The best portrayal of on film or tv that I've seen of this inner crisis is Eric Bana's brilliant turn as John Meecham in Season One of Dirty John.

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