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Look Out for the Drift

If you see yourself
   in a living room mirror
      speaking to
an old girlfriend
from high school days,

with a peachy red face,

              about her misery
                 memoir; smoothly drift
                    over her innocence lost,
                       by funerals, drift to
                          asking
                            she closely

                              read and critique
                                 your latest poem,
                                    you may be
a Narcissist,
                                                heading to
                                                   or away
                                                      from full
blown.

 

 

In the mid-nineties, after receiving a BA in psychology, psychopathology was on my mind daily. I worked at a group home for psychiatrically diagnosed teens in Queens, New York; later as a psychiatric rehab counselor for adults transitioning from group homes to independent living in the South Bronx. My experiences were disturbing enough to make me leave that counselor career path and drift from one job to another—finally end up a poet, with society and politics being main interests. How could they not be: my family is from Puerto Rico. If government is, indeed, now just a big business, the tiny defenseless island of Puerto Rico has received a brutally raw deal since its occupation in 1898. It’s difficult to see your mother raped by someone you are supposed to trust—a neighbor you were taught was moral and good.

When Trump began his presidential campaign, I began thinking about psychopathology again, specifically Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Shortly after he slithered into the White House and crowned himself king, a few psychologists were criticized for diagnosing him as having a sociopathic narcissistic disorder. Approaching 2020, you can find many pieces written by psychologists and psychiatrists describing a constellation of behaviors that demonstrate his uniquely robust blend of NPD and psychopathy. You wouldn’t think Trump is a narcissistic psychopath if you didn’t explore outside the corporate backed news matrix, from dirty Fox to cleans-up-nice-news, CNN. Mainstream news platforms are not going to open themselves up to charges of slander. Treasonous and seditious are words Republican loyalists immediately shout if anyone dares call their boy dangerously crazy. He has been a disaster for the country in so many ways, and yet part of me wants to thank him for revealing the true white supremacist and narcissistic nature of my country.

On the ground floor of NPD is a lack of empathy and a cruel disregard for the well-being of others; and the more “other” you are the greater doses of cruelty you can expect. Tearing children away from their parents seeking refuge at our southern border or blowing up a building with women and children to kill a supposed threat in the Middle East is now openly being cheered by a large percentage of your neighbors. Are you happy? Is it really a beautiful day in the neighborhood for our next generation of children? What would Mr. Rodgers preach now if still alive? I understand telling a four-year-old he or she is the center of the universe and precious just for being exactly who they are; however, hard core narcissists rarely outgrow this message, no matter what they do in the world. Evidence of abundant narcissism may be just as easy to spot in your own household as in the White House or a Trump rally (where there’s a narcissist expect co-dependents too). If you try for intellectual honesty, perhaps a little spirituality, and are not afraid, sometimes your gaze may turn as close to home as you can get-inside your own thin skin. What’s scary is you never know when your worries may be justified. Exactly how do we teach and learn to have empathy?

 

*This piece appeared in Counterpunch, December  5, 2019.

 

Until next time,
keep writing,

Peace,
Andrés Castro

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