Eating no solid foods was not conducive to writing, though I did manage to keep up appearances on “Russia: Then and Now,” the podcast I recently started co-producing with Kevin Michelizzi. Listening to our guests and talking with them for an hour on the show was not as mentally draining as writing a story, which proved too difficult for my poor, food-deprived brain. Still I have decided to leave the show, which will give me more time for writing.
And so here I am again, attempting some coherency. I’ve had considerable time to think while I’ve been recuperating, and one of the ideas I’ve been kicking around in my head is how America is the narcissist of the world.
Narcissism is something I’ve studied thoroughly for more than a decade, being a survivor of narcissistic abuse myself. It took years to sort through the confusion, depression and devaluation of my life which was the legacy of narc abuse in my family and in the workplace.
I have probably watched thousands of hours of videos on this topic. On YouTube, I followed a legion of life coaches, counselors, therapists and psychologists. For a long time, I was like an addict with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about the so-called “cluster-B” personality types. These are the antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders as defined by the DSM-5, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” — the gold standard on which American mental health professionals rely to make their diagnoses.
Over time, I narrowed down the channels I was following until all that remained were two psychologists whom I believe are the most knowledgeable on the subject: Dr. Ramani Durvasula and Dr. Les Carter. I still listen to them on almost a daily basis.
It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the mind to see how behavioral models which apply to individual human beings can also apply to groups of human beings which take on personalities of their own. Businesses, churches, governments, schools and other organizations can collectively act like narcissists. And so can nations.
And when it comes to the most narcissistic nation on this planet, one need look no further than the United States, which is the poster child for every trait of narcissism as we shall see.
According to the DSM-5, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is defined by “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and with lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood,” which is indicated by at least five of the following:
A grandiose sense of self-importance (i.e., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually achieving anything).
A preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
A belief that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should only associate with other special people (or institutions).
A constant need for excessive admiration.
A sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with their expectations.
Exploitative behavior, taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to identify with the needs of others.
An envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them.
Arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes.
Let’s see how the United States meets the criteria.
First of all, the definition of narcissism as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and with lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood.”
Relatively speaking, in comparison with other countries, the United States is still a young nation. A young adult, so to speak. But it is already clear to see that the US has had “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior)” since its very birth, when hordes of settlers hemorrhaged from European countries and surged into the New World — the “promised land” which many believed was theirs by right of manifest destiny.
As these settlers swept across the American frontier in the 1800’s, they eradicated untold millions of native inhabitants or drove them onto the least-desired regions of the land, which were called “reservations,” where many more natives froze or starved to death. Religion played a key role in “killing the Indian in the Indian,” as indigenous children were (sometimes literally) dragged off to religious schools where they were stripped of their culture, their language, and their connection to the land. Many settlers believed that the land had been given to them by God, and that it was their right to dispose of the “heathens” any way they saw fit.
The settlers didn’t see themselves as invaders but as the rightful stewards of the land, chosen by God Himself.
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
A grandiose sense of self-importance
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
’Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the USA.
The words of this Lee Greenwood song reflect the beliefs many Americans hold close to their hearts. The belief that they are free. That soldiers die for their right to be free. That they should be proud to be American and that they should feel pride when they look at the American flag.
If folks were honest with themselves, they would admit that there isn’t much freedom left, that the wars have nothing to do with freedom, and pride in one’s country without an honest appraisal of one’s country is not really patriotism but blind allegiance.
But it’s easier, and preferable, to believe in the fantasy that America is “the greatest country in the world,” and to believe in it so desperately that you ignore what your eyes are seeing, what your ears are hearing, and what you and your neighbors are experiencing in real, everyday life in the USA.
“America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.” Famous scene from “The Newsroom.”
A preoccupation with fantasies of success
John Steinbeck was quoted as having said that “socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” In truth, Steinbeck may not have actually said the words exactly this way, but the idea was certainly present in his literature.
Though the reputation of America’s 1% has shifted among America’s 99% in recent decades, there is still a large portion of working-class Americans who feel a kinship with the wealthy and strongly oppose raising taxes on the billionaire class because they hope that they, too, might be wealthy someday.
But most Americans probably can’t imagine the kind of wealth the 1% actually owns. According to CEO World Magazine, as of January 2023, this is how much America’s wealthiest citizens are worth:
Elon Musk: $146.5 billion.
Warren Buffett: $107.6 billion.
Jeff Bezos: $107.3 billion.
Bill Gates: $103.3 billion.
Larry Ellison: $102.4 billion.
Steve Ballmer: $78.5 billion.
Larry Page: $77.3 billion.
Michael Bloomberg: $76.8 billion.
The sheer amount of money here may not be obvious to the average person. For starters, though a billion and a million sound similar they are vastly different numbers. If you counted to a million, at one number per second, with no breaks, it would take you more than 11 days.
If you counted to a billion at the same pace, it would take more than 30 years, because a billion is a thousand millions.
So, if you want to count Jeff Bezos’ money at the pace of one dollar per second, you would need to start counting around the time that the Egyptians began work on the Great Pyramid of Giza in order to finish counting in time for dinner tonight. Because it’s going to take you around 4,500 years.
The American Dream is a fantasy. The fantasy that “anyone can make it” with just a little hard work. If all the hard-working people in the world were rewarded according to how much they worked, African women would be the new 1%.
As George Carlin said, “It’s called the American Dream ‘cause you have to be asleep to believe it.”
A belief that they are “special”
Foreign Policy Magazine wrote in 2011, “Over the last two centuries, prominent Americans have described the United States as an ‘empire of liberty,’ a ‘shining city on a hill,’ the ‘last best hope of Earth,’ the ‘leader of the free world,’ and the ‘indispensable nation.‘ These enduring tropes explain why all presidential candidates feel compelled to offer ritualistic paeans to America’s greatness…”
Part of “American exceptionalism” is the belief that America is unique from other countries and that the US sits on some imaginary moral high ground from which it can dictate to the rest of the world how to live.
This belief, really more of an underlying assumption, permeates American foreign policy. Even Wikipedia, which is arguably under the control of the Military-Industrial Complex, has a breathtaking list of countries where the US has played an active role in regime change since the mid 1800’s, when it annexed land belonging to Mexico. More than 60 different cases of regime-change are listed and those are just the ones the United States admits to. [The actual figure exceeds 297 interventions, and counting.—Ed]
There are many more covert operations such as the Maidan coup in Ukraine, which the US orchestrated. You can even listen to Undersecretary Victoria Nuland planning the coup with the US Ambassador to Ukraine as casually as they would plan a Sunday dinner. You may want to download this intercepted recording of their conversation from my channel because YouTube scrubs it from time to time.
The belief that the United States is special, unique, set apart from other nations, is almost cult-like. Challenge that belief and some people will really flip out, because it’s very personal to them and it’s part of their identity as Americans. Part of their bragging rights. Challenge the idea that America is the best in the world, and you are challenging their identity as Americans.
The religious belief that this land was given to Americans by God is still taught in many churches in the US today, only now this theology is known as “prosperity gospel.” In short, it’s the belief that God rewards believers with wealth and prosperity. This is taught in evangelical churches, and evangelical Christianity is the fastest-growing religious segment in America today.
A constant need for excessive admiration
Though the United States government does not have laws demanding that you admire it, the admiration is elicited in other ways. Hollywood movies are now routinely used by the CIA as conduits for propaganda. The propaganda is simple. America is portrayed as a great place to live, its people are portrayed as wealthy and affluent, living in fine homes, traveling around the globe at a moment’s notice. This is not by accident, it’s all quite intentional. The CIA’s activities in Hollywood were once known as “Operation Mockingbird,” and famed journalist Carl Bernstein wrote about it in Rolling Stone in 1977.
Some of the films and TV series that the CIA worked on since then are “Black Hawk Down,” “The Americans,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Agency,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Homeland,” “The Sum of All Fears,” “Alias,” “Top Gun,” “The FBI,” “Battleship,” “24,” “Argo,” “Syriana,” and “In the Company of Spies.”
But that’s just the ones we know of.
Movies which may or may not be influenced by the CIA but probably are, often depict the US military as good guys fighting for democracy overseas. I won’t argue as to whether individual soldiers are “good guys” or not, because I’m sure that their families naturally and rightfully believe they are. But the US military, on the whole, has not been fighting for democracy overseas, at least not since the end of the Second World War. It has been fighting for world domination. And it has control of a large part of the world, as you can surmise from the sheer number of US military bases worldwide.
The number of bases which the US owns and operates globally is disputed, with some estimates running higher or lower, but there are only 196 countries in the world, so if the US has 800 bases, that is more than four bases for every country. Still, the MICIMATT demands more and more! (Germany alone hosts about 230—Ed).
And though the US might not have laws requiring your admiration (yet), it certainly punishes those who point out its mistakes. Just look at Julian Assange, who has been smeared in the media, charged with crimes he didn’t commit, arrested on bogus charges, and imprisoned in the UK where he is kept silenced and isolated and his health is slowly failing. All because he publicized evidence of US war crimes.
You don’t have to admire the US, but you’d better be careful about how you criticize the US. Narcissists can’t take criticism, and neither can America.
A sense of entitlement
Narcissists display breathtaking levels of entitlement. Their philosophy is “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” The US demonstrates a profound sense of entitlement in the world. It not only bullies other countries and demands that they cooperate in its global domination schemes, it invades other countries illegally and then screams when other countries do the same thing.
The US wages wars in countries on the other side of the world because its leadership (and the leadership behind its leadership), feel entitled to those countries and their resources.
Another egregious example of this astounding level of entitlement, was the US telling China that “we’re the leader” in the Indo-Pacific.
“From my perspective sitting here in China looking out at the Indo-Pacific, our American position is stronger than it was five or ten years ago,” Nicholas Burns, the US Ambassador to China said in March. “And I do think that the Chinese now understand that the United States is staying in this region — we’re the leader in this region in many ways.”
This massive sense of entitlement naturally segues into exploitation, as those in the third-world understand all too well. When the American military machine isn’t busy invading them (and sometimes even while it is), American businesses are exploiting the third world for labor and resources.
How many Americans are jobless, or homeless, because their job was shipped overseas? And in poorer countries, the kinds of safety standards required in the developed world are often ignored or less stringently applied. Businesses operate where the labor is cheapest. And in the US, average wages do not keep pace with the cost of living or with the skyrocketing inflation, which is mostly ignored by the press.
There are large regions in Japan where even the airspace is controlled by the US. Japanese citizens are not allowed to fly there. In northeastern Syria, the US still has troops on the ground, guarding the oil from… well, from Syrians. Mexico has been chastised for favoring its own oil companies over American-owned oil companies.
And so on, and so on, but this article is already quite long.
A lack of empathy
Back in 1988, a US Navy cruiser shot down a civilian passenger jet over the Strait of Hormuz, killing 290 people from six different countries, including 66 children. Was there an apology for this mistaken attack on Iran Air Flight 655? Of course not. That would require admitting there was a mistake.
Instead, with a stunning lack of empathy, then-Vice President George HW Bush stated, “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”
America doesn’t like to make apologies. But if it does, rest assured they are empty, though pleasant-sounding, apologies. There has been no restitution to the descendants of slaves nor to the remaining Native Americans, for the holocausts unleashed upon them.
In a country run by capitalism, empathy is never given freely. If you want someone to care about you, you’d better have a lot of money. Otherwise, you too may fall victim to the US healthcare system which displays a grotesque lack of empathy toward America’s most vulnerable citizens. Insurance companies delay approving claims while people die. Pharmaceuticals grossly inflate the price of pills without a care for those desperately in need of the medicine. Healthcare for profit eliminates empathy from the equation.
While elites use American tax dollars to wage multi-billion-dollar wars halfway around the world, in countries most Americans can’t find on a map, its citizens fall into poverty and homelessness.
An envy of others
It may not be as easy to see the United States’ envy at first, because narcissists won’t tell you that they are envious. They will attempt to disguise their envy but if you are shrewd, you can see it in their actions. And it becomes obvious to the keen observer that envy is a motivation for many who run this powerful country. They do not want any other countries to become more powerful.
Countries which do not kowtow to the wishes of the United States’ government or its most powerful businesses are punished by crippling sanctions intended to destabilize or destroy their economies. For example, thousands of Iranians died of Covid and Iranian officials blamed this on US sanctions which prevented Iranians from getting medicine for the virus. The US now maintains sanctions against dozens of countries, according to the Brookings Institute, a DC Think Tank, which has criticized the extent to which US Foreign Policy depends on sanctions.
The US uses sanctions to bully other countries which do not do as they are told, the same way a clique of spiteful and petty “mean girls” from junior high school might ostracize a less popular girl. The mean girls may warn all their friends to stonewall the unpopular girl, thus isolating her and making her feel alone. Similarly, the US warns other countries to take part in sanctions against the unpopular country. As school bullying can lead to suicide, sanctions can result in lack of food or medical aid, and widespread death.
The US does not want to see countries which eschew the petrodollar succeeding, nor does it want countries with socialist governments to outshine it. This is why the governments of many countries, from Libya to Venezuela, were regime-changed by the US.
The US, or rather its industries, covet and envy the resources of third-world countries and exploit them whenever possible, while American propaganda simultaneously provokes the third world to be envious of the vaunted American lifestyle.
Lastly, America’s arrogance is known the world over. Even the Cato Institute, another DC Think Tank, has pointed out America’s arrogance and narcissism in foreign policy, stating that US “micromanaging of its allies continues to cause friction.” And towards the end of the Obama era, the Pew Research Center published an international poll in which over 50% of those who responded associated arrogance and greed with Americans.
America’s role as “world police” has also become a subject of criticism and satire in some circles, while others firmly believe in America’s destiny to dominate the globe. “If not us, then who?” they ask, no doubt imagining the terrors of a Russian dictatorship or Chinese communism.
You need only ask the people who have felt the brunt of America’s “policing” to know how the true face of American might. In 2013, filmmaker Regis Tremblay released a documentary called “The Ghosts of Jeju,” which tells the story of indigenous people living on the South Korean island of Jeju, where the US Navy decided to build a base. The protests of native people were ignored and the base was built, destroying the local ecosystem and ruining the simple lives of the villagers, who relied on the land and the sea for sustenance.
Native Americans have faired no better at the hands of the US government. From the smallpox virus brought by the first Pilgrims up until recent fights over water rights at Standing Rock, America’s indigenous people have well understood that America is the narcissist of the world, for they have been among its greatest victims.
Other narcissistic traits and behaviors
Gaslighting. Gaslighting is a term which was derived from the film, “Gaslight,” about a man who slowly convinces his wife that she’s crazy by turning down the gas lights and then telling her she imagined it. America constantly gaslights. Just look at its reaction to the Nord Stream explosion. US President Biden promised he would stop Nord Stream if Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia began its “Special Military Operation,” and subsequently, the Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed. It’s patently clear who did this, and on top of that, we have Seymour Hersh’s magnificent exposé which connects all the dots. But American mainstream media continues to gaslight, making the incredible claim that Russia blew up its own pipeline or the ridiculous claim that Ukraine did it. And social media giant Facebook is censoring Hersh’s article as if it is enemy propaganda or pornography.
Future-faking. Narcissists will promise almost anything to get something in the moment, but then they’ll “forget” their end of the bargain. A man might promise a woman a wedding ring to get her in bed, for example. A salesman might make any kind of ridiculous claim to make a sale. America’s promises are like that. Just ask Native Americans what they think of America’s treaties. Or ask Russia. Remember the Minsk Accords?
Blame-shifting. Ever notice how America shifts the blame? When the Democratic National Committee and the Clintons were accused of rigging the 2016 Democratic Primary against rival candidate Bernie Sanders and this was subsequently exposed by Wikileaks, was justice done? Of course not. Instead, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was attacked for leaking the information, which probably came from a DNC insider, and blame was shifted to Russia, which was accused of rigging the general election, even though this was never proven in a court of law. [And it's a pretty ludicrous idea, to begin with.—Ed]
False image. All narcissists have a false image of themselves which they constantly put on display. They want you to believe that they are special, better than others, that they are good people. They crave your admiration. If you draw attention to their less savory qualities, you are threatening their false image and they will react with fury. The narcissist may launch a smear campaign against you in an attempt to discredit you. Or they may try to silence you in a more direct manner. You can expect to be bullied either in person or by the narcissist’s flying monkeys — people they convince to join their cause.
Again look at the faces of those who threatened America’s false image — as the “greatest country in the world,” which brings “freedom and democracy” to the world and cares about “human rights.”
Look at the terrified face of Muammar Gaddafi as he was taken by a bloodthirsty mob to be tortured and sodomized with a sword. Remember then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s laughter and her words regarding this barbarism:
“We came, we saw, he died.”
Look at the face of Julian Assange. This photo was taken of him on October 27, 2021 at Belmarsh Prison in the UK where he has been held since 2019. It is the last known photo of Assange. It was captured by the prison’s CCTV system at the moment when he was having a stroke.
As Caitlin Johnstone wrote:
“For me, the irony of the last known image of Julian Assange being of his brain mid-explosion is a powerful visual metaphor for how he himself, the idea of Julian Assange, Wikileaks, journalism, a free press, and all he stands for, is being surgically wiped from the public’s consciousness in a deliberate inducement of global aphasia.”
“This is censorship via amnesia.”
“This is the psychological disappearing of Julian Assange.”
I am not a psychologist, so I cannot diagnose the United States with NPD, even if the US was an individual person. But narcissism is a personality style, and one I strongly believe the US exhibits.
As always, though, dear reader, you may draw your own conclusions.
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