Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


Leave a comment

How to deal with a narcissist

I’ve been reading accounts from the American press written by journalists stunned to find Trump is worse beyond their expectations. I obviously don’t share their sentiments. I’m an abuse survivor, grew up with a (much less wealthy) Donald Trump in the house, and have the misfortune of currently working with a Donald Trump heading my place of employment. Over the years, I’ve seen what sort of madhouse network dances about men like our president.

Get used to it, America. We are now an abusive family.

Abusive families have three primary players: the abusers, the enablers and the victims. If it isn’t clear, the abuser (Trump) dishes it out while the enablers (the establishment) make excuses for it, attempt to rationalize it, sometimes to benefit from it, thereby supporting it, while the victims (citizens) take insults and deal with disorienting confusion, even chaos.

It’s more complicated and shaded-gray in reality. All sorts of professional people have broken these roles down further. Obviously, there’s overlap between them.

Most abusers were once victims, and still perceive themselves, like Trump does, as mistreated or unfairly targeted. Some enablers also abuse, but all enablers are victims of the abuse, at least to some degree, if even by virtue of needing to depend on it to play a role, complete some task or access a resource. From my point of view, victims are enablers until they remove themselves from the system, decompress, gather their bearings and accept, with as much clarity as possible, what the abuse was truly like. This requires admitting it. They have to make a conscious decision that the abuse stops with them or it simply won’t.

Most of us are nowhere close to that point yet. This is new and bizarre; we’ve been dropped into the madhouse and can’t tell where to focus our attention. It explains why so many of our journalists and other professionals are staring ahead wide-eyed, mouths agape, making delusional claims like “this might lead to totalitarianism” when a totalitarian is already in control, when reporters are being arrested for doing their jobs and protests outlawed in the wake of idiotic, distracting tweets and abject falsifications of reality.

It’s important for everyone in a position of influence, from every level of our government to the whole of our press, our institutions of education, social services, our courts and our legal professionals to understand something unequivocally. Our president is an abusive madman, a narcissist with no capacity to change, no ounce of empathy, no motivation beyond his own aggrandizement.

Showing him photographs to contradict his delusional claims is pointless. Narcissists cannot be “managed” or “influenced.” In my experience, there are only a few ways to deal with a narcissist, none easy or comfortable.

The first is a war of attrition, the arsenal merciless, consistent insult. The insults do not have to be exotic, vulgar or vindictive; speaking about reality, consistently and in a sustained effort, is enough. You’re not very well liked. Most people abhor you. They disagree with your values. They think you’re uncivilized, deranged, mentally ill and unable to grasp reality. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Do it in shifts, like an oiled hockey team crashing the net. He makes a false statement, so you dismiss it, call it a lie and immediately set about ridiculing it in every possible channel, making certain he sees it.

A narcissist will try to exhaust you until you give in, until putting up with whatever the narcissist is doing becomes easier than listening to his assault on reality, or hearing the insults. It’s exhausting, obviously, to tell the narcissist, “No. The tablecloth is white, not yellow,” every time you deal with him. But that is what we must expect. When the president speaks, he is fabricating a delusion in an effort to exhaust our imaginations and mental capacities. He wants to shell-shock us into submission.

Trump will not stop lying. In fact, he’s going to need to lie more as his administration unravels, as people begin abandoning him. He will not respond to reason or rational conversation, and he will continue sending his representatives to meet the press and lie that they intend to tell the truth, one second after they lie.

This seems counterproductive, even masochistic. A narcissist does not lie merely because he can or because it provides him attention (narcissistic supply). A narcissist’s lie gives him power over others’ imagination and feelings. The lies become the parameters of the discussion—we argue over the delusion instead of weighing the reality—and anything the narcissist doesn’t like he’ll claim has been invented by his victims. The technique renders reason useless and obliterates the basic agreements among the educated; you cannot argue with someone who makes up numbers, contradicts himself constantly or tells you your information is fake, what you’ve witnessed is false.

This latter point is most important. An abuser will beat you up or molest you but then accuse you of imagining it. He’ll accuse you of being unfair, of trying to make him look bad when you show everyone your bloody nose. What’s true is what he says; he is the center, the ultimate reference point. Everything, including reality, is subject to his power.

Attacks on a narcissist, in the short term, only increase his bluster. Eventually, however, the embarrassment of enabling him becomes a liability. At that point, exile becomes an option, but it requires a critical mass of enablers to stand up and say they’ve had enough.

The press cannot in good faith come to press conferences and ask Trump’s secretary, “What lies have you for us today? What bullshit of yours should we share?” However, our legislative branch can, and rather quickly, exile Trump to someplace outside the White House. Currently, Congress is Trump’s greatest enabler, far worse than the press, and getting worse as this horror show blusters on.

What will it finally take for our leaders to say they’ve had enough? Well…the usual thing. Massive opposition from an intrepid, inexhaustible, furious (but also clever) populace.

800px-narcissus-caravaggio_1594-96_edited

 

 


Leave a comment

Thanks to the Chicago Writers Association

I was thrilled to attend the award ceremony last Saturday night (January 14) at The Book Cellar to mark the Chicago Writers Association 2016 Book of the Year Awards. It was really a lovely evening, with one of the most amazing cakes I’ve ever seen, and wonderful conversation afterwards.

The complete list of winners is available here. The Fugue won an honorable mention. Here I am with Gerald Brennan, owner of my publisher, Tortoise Books.

15978127_1354884974597272_2314096165662152343_n

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Writers Association.


Cutting off constituents: the ideology of death

So…here’s the situation.

You have an illness that will kill you unless you take daily drugs. Those drugs are manufactured by someone who gets to set whatever price they want. However, you have insurance that pays all or some portion of that exorbitant cost. Some portion of that insurance is paid for by public money.

Your government doesn’t like this. They think you should have been strong and smart enough, prior to getting your illness—or perhaps while you were being delivered, ill already—to take the necessary precautions to avoid death. Because, you know, your sickness is your problem, not your neighbor’s problem; it is the same as your lawn or your aluminum siding.

So, they take your insurance away. And they thumb their noses. Who are you to request that someone else help keep you alive?

What do we call it when someone performs an act they know will lead to someone’s death? What’s the word for acting in such a way that another human is guaranteed to die?

Why don’t members of the United States Congress give up their health benefits? Are some of them facing health issues?

mitch_mcconnell_2016_official_photo

Photo of Mitch McConnell from Wikipedia.


Leave a comment

Remembering the Russian crackdown in Lithuania: 1991

Twenty six years ago, Russia (The Soviet Union) cracked down on Lithuania’s independence movement. The result was fourteen dead and, months later, the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I first visited Lithuania in the summer of 1992. The cement barricades were still in place around the Parliament building, and a few torched areas had yet to be cleaned up properly, but the experience still taught me lessons about sacrifice and defiance. I fell in love with Vilnius instantly.

This past November, thousands of Lithuanian-Americans voted for Trump, despite warnings about his threat to the Baltic States and NATO, despite the knowledge that he was exposed to Russia. I find their vote a grossly irresponsible act of either sadism or masochism, and still can’t get my head around it.

This interview, in Russian with English subtitles, of Landsbergis is vital viewing. Resistance is now inevitable, but it will be costly. However, consider his words: “We presented our political platform at an open debate with the Communist Party and we won.” That’s a tiny country of just over 3 million people taking on the Russian Bear.

Resist. Click for video:

http://www.rferl.org/embed/player/0/27482994.html?type=video

landsbergis