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Friday, March 4, 2016

Trump's Psychology Ponzi Scheme

The presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump, and in particular, his very public statements and mannerisms, may be the latest and greatest example of a particular bullying strategy that is sometimes deployed by some "control freak" businessmen and politicians.

Something noticeable in a certain type of egotistical person is the use of the following tactic. The person will say increasingly controversial, even outrageous, things. Notably, this will be done in the presence of others. That is because the object of the statement is not the content of the statement or its outrageousness, its political incorrectness. The object of the statement is the fact that it is made among an audience, and the target of the statement, while nominally about persons or things voiced in the statement, is really the audience, that is, the people around the speaker.

That's because the strategy of the speaker is to make those people in the audience uncomfortable. The strategy is to make those people associated with the speaker. (In high society, among the well-bred, you'll note that certain offensive statements are met with silent retreats but almost never an outright denunciation. That's because of the belief in the principle, however fair or unfair, of "guilty by association.") The speaker exploits the desire of the audience to "kiss up to" him, the fawning adoration, and the susceptibility of people unable to generate light of their own, to bask in the reflected light of others.

It is often in this way that supporters, associates, colleagues, etc. end up becoming the new victims. They're so often the psychological marks of the speaker, and never ever figure out the ruse.

When those people have finally had "enough," the egotist will challenge their objection with charges that "you support me," or "you've given me money," or "you've been my customer," or even, "you said this was a great course and you signed something." (Sound familiar yet?) The challenge is really a threat to embarrass others, anyone who objects. And that threat is felt by its marks, even if it can rarely be articulated, never mind, tied in to an actual, objective fact. That difficulty helps the perpetrator continue, to overcome the objections and carry on his activities. In fact, the perpetrator sometimes is able to build on rejecting the objections, because his object is control, and he has no objection to control through fear. 

This might work for a while. But the psychological Ponzi scheme cannot be sustained. Watch the egotist carefully; you'll see he rarely has the same people around him for a long period of time (unless they're on his payroll, or another more nefarious explanation exists). 

Those of us who have uncovered these shady characters know the signs. It is a terrible shame when these people act this way. They often harm others, but they also waste their own potential, their ideas, their rhetoric, their inventions, all wasted in the employ of an addiction to psychological dysfunctions.

Are we seeing this unfold now? I've given you my theory. Time will tell -- and the longer the time horizon, the more evidence that can be collected to make that determination.

Eric Dixon is a New York based lawyer who has investigated fraud in various contexts over the years.

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