Note: if you would like to be notified when this project releases a new chapter please subscribe to this blog.
I would suggest that we speak instead of “psychic inflation.” The term seems to me appropriate in so far as the state we are discussing involves an extension of the personality beyond individual limits, in other words, a state of being puffed up. In such a state a man fills a space, which normally he cannot fill. He can only fill it by appropriating to himself contents and qualities, which properly exist for them alone and should therefore remain outside our bounds. ~ C. G. Jung, CW The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious
In 2016, after the primaries and as the presidential election loomed on the horizon, a group of prominent Jungians urgently gathered a collection of essays “A Clear and Present Danger” to examine the role of narcissism in American society and the electoral process.
“We wish to reiterate that we are not proposing that Donald Trump suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, nor are we proposing he does not. Yet we wish to thank him and other candidates in the 2016 presidential election for the opportunity to take an honest look in the mirror and confront our individual and collective narcissism.” ~ Leonard Cruz, MD & Steven Buser, MD, editors, Clear and Present Danger
There are other psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists who have been outspoken about their belief that Donald Trump is diagnosable, and who believe that diagnosis is a politically necessary gesture from the mental health community as part of their “duty to warn” regarding significant threats to public safety. Many mental health practitioners feel ethically bound by “The Goldwater Rule” – section 7 of the American Psychiatric Association’s Principals of Medical Ethics – which prohibits diagnosing anyone that the practitioner has not personally assessed. Still others express significant concern about using diagnosis as a political weapon that will be wielded by oppressors as surely as justice-seekers.
Narcissism in its extreme form is categorized diagnostically as a personality disorder – but the capacity to experience narcissistic injury, disruptions to our healthy narcissism or to be swept up into narcissistically inflated states are universal human experiences. Any time we feel invulnerable, unstoppable, or “larger than life”, any time we forget our limitations and feel nothing but our strengths, any time we draw on the energies that come with the approval of a collective “movement” or mob – we are experiencing some form of narcissistic inflation. But what is going on exactly when the “ego is inflated?” In simple terms, the personality claims “credit” or “ownership” of ideas, energies, accomplishments that they did not create or invent alone.
I just woke up. I had a dream that Trump took credit for ending the Boer War. It was a dream, right?[i]
The purpose of this chapter is not to diagnose, but to examine the themes of grandiosity and inflation – as demonstrated by approximately twenty-three dreams in this collection- which are focused on the current president as a titular manifestation of our national hubris.
I dreamed I’d discovered that Trump had sent every bill to Congress on a platter bearing his portrait in crudité. And this was the game-changing secret that revealed how deeply weird and wrong everything has been & that I had to bring to the public. Luckily, it was just a dream![ii]
Like Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection, in this dream seems to suggest that the Trump administration is so infatuated with their leader’s imprint that his visage is served, raw, to Congress.
“The phrase “everywhere I look I see myself” comes to mind as an apt description of how the narcissist approaches the world.”( ~ Kathryn Madden, PhD, The Hall of Mirrors; Narcissism and Celebrity in the World of Twitter and Reality TV, Clear and Present Danger, Leonard Cruz, MD & Steven Buser, MD, editors)
In subsequent dreams the presidential reflection is all encompassing, inescapable, imprinted everywhere, his face, his words, his name:
I had a dream that Donald Trump gifted me 20 books. But all 20 of them were either written BY him or ABOUT him. So I picked one up and threw it at his head whilst yelling at him[iii]
So I just had a dream that the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration was declared National Donald Trump Day and everyone was wearing MAGA shirts and hats[iv].
I had a dream Trump invited me over for dinner and he showed me his room and the walls were full of portraits of himself and then he took me on a ride on his spacecraft[v]
had a dream last night that i was watching trump giving his state of the union address and the entire address was just ‘the star spangled banner’ but all the lyrics were ‘trump’[vi]
i dreamt Trump had changed the look of the US currency. It had a grotesque caricature of his face on it, and the motto was “Everyone Can Dream.” The news report said this “special currency” would be available in 15 countries in addition to the US.[vii]
I had a dream last night that Donald Trump blew up the entire city of Philadelphia to build a giant statue of himself.[viii]
Some dreamers translate the ego inflation of this administration in literal imagery. Here Trump is both puffed up and sainted:
I had a dream last night that I got a blow-up Donald Trump Santa for Christmas[ix]
Others depict the dangers of becoming power-drunk:
I had a weird dream that ended with me attending a Trump show with him getting progressively drunker. Right before I woke up he was mixing different types of taco seasoning to pour into a beer.[x]
According to psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, in optimal circumstances infantile narcissism transforms into mature love of others over the course of healthy development. When we have experienced injuries to our healthy narcissism, when we are starved of accurate mirroring and appropriate admiration – we are left hungry and profoundly dependent on “narcissistic supplies” extracted from others to shore up our unstable self-esteem. That “neediness” often makes others feel held captive and coerced into expressions of admiration:
I had a dream where Donald Trump’s keeps like a group of people in some secret like luxury RV somewhere held captive and like just comes by every now and then to like feed them and makes them listen to him and tell him he’s great[xi]
Several dreams explored the possibility of manipulating Trump’s apparent dependency on such narcissistic supplies by offering or withholding them in service of their own political agendas:
Omg I had a dream last night I was trying to convince Donald Trump to clean up his act. I tried to convince him that “everyone would love him” and his “ratings would skyrocket” if he started to act right.[xii]
I had a dream that Trump visited my house and we sat down to have a rational discussion about int’l affairs but first I had to compliment his negotiation & deal-making skills before he would listen to me about Syria and North Korea[xiii]
So in my dream China worked hard to reduce pollution, then taunted trump by boasting about it. Trump took it as a pissing contest, so three days later America and China had both spent billions to fix pollution better than the other and the world was a better place[xiv]
Other dreamers found their dream-egos fueling up with narcissistic supplies received from the president.
I had a dream last night that Donald Trump tipped me my biggest tip at work & told me nobody else believed in me like he did[xv]
i had a dream last night that i was being cheated on and for some reason i ran into donald trump and i was crying and i asked him for relationship advice and he just said i’m better than whoever made me cry and now i’m not mad at trump today?[xvi]
Compare such dreams to this one collected by Beradt in 1930’s Germany:
Goering himself came to inspect my office and gave me a satisfied nod. This unfortunately pleased me enormously, even though I was thinking what a fat swine he is. ~ Charlotte Beradt, The Third Reich of Dreams, p. 61
In the next dream: Trump is both elevated and enthroned as the world behind him erupts in flames:
I dreamed I was at a party where a wide red and gold carpet was rolled out for Trump and led to an elevated throne. No one could enter through the main door once the carpet was placed. The throne was set 10 feet above us. Through the back windows, I could see explosions. No one seemed bothered. There was something else that’s still fuzzy… I told Pence he was mentioned in the bible and to look up 1 Timothy 4. (I’m not familiar with that book.) And i remember telling Trump that his questions were attacks instead of constructive ways to gather information.[xvii]
The biblical text referenced by the dream challenges this inflation as hypocritical and “of the devil:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: ~ 1 Timothy 4:1-4 King James Version
Icarus ignored his vulnerability and flew too near the sun. Hubris may also manifest as an abject rejection of weakness, the refusal of any mirror that offers an unflattering image:
I had a dream I had to fit Trump for a suit at my job but he was in denial about his measurement[xviii]
Possessed by hubris we see ourselves as more than we are. Moreover, when we embrace ego-intoxication we also make ourselves susceptible to a subsequent collapse, an energetic and humiliating deflation that corrects our psychological imbalance and brings us low.
Note on endnotes: Twitter dreams are credited to their authors below. I have removed hyperlinks. The @45dreamsproject Twitter account remains available for perusal. It is possible that accounts/tweets that have subsequently been deleted or set to private were archived while their account status was active and public.