Red Flags Matter: I Was His Crooked Hillary, Weak Obama, and Fake News
by Marie Shukaitis
Westwood Books Publishing LLC

"If one has narcissistic personality disorder, they may come across as conceited, boastful, arrogant or pretentious."

After more than twenty years of marriage to a man who was eventually diagnosed as having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the author has composed a book about her harrowing experiences. She and Dennis had one date during which she learned that he had custody of three children, had read many of the same books she had, and wanted to see her again. On their second meeting, she agreed to marry him. Almost immediately she had the first strong “red flag” clue as to his personality dysfunction when he brought nine books on their five-day honeymoon and during those five days met her only for meals and at bedtime.

Other red flags arose as she began to hear numerous stories of friends and family who were permanently alienated by Dennis’ hateful behaviors. Her own sister refused to come to her house again after Dennis unaccountably pulled off the scarf she used to cover the baldness caused by her radiation treatments. At times it seemed that Dennis wanted them to spend time together as a couple, as when they prepared a garden together, but as with other such endeavors, he took no real interest in tending and harvesting, leaving it all to her. He showed scant respect for her employment as a social worker, calling her, even publicly, a “toilet counter.” He frequently mocked her Catholic religion in snide, hurtful terms. Oftentimes, to defend him, she found herself repeating as fact his lies about himself. It was when he became violent, striking her for no apparent reason in his self-created rages, that she finally had to resort to legal means, several times having him arrested.

Writing this book was, by the author’s admission, her catharsis. She is not a practiced wordsmith, but her marital torment is well depicted in the episodes she describes so emotively. Her memories of painful incidents and her dramatic way of recounting them will find resonance with anyone who has ever encountered a person with NPD. Readers will doubtless feel empathy for her trials, especially as she has been honest in ascribing to herself some of the blame, based on her self-effacing, “caregiver” tendencies. She makes it clear that once locked into a dysfunctional relationship, especially when children are involved, it is extremely difficult to let go.

Apart from her personal narrative, the author’s subtitle hints at her conviction that the current US President shares her ex-husband’s diagnosis. The cover art presents a caricature of Donald Trump, and her insistent, repeated referrals to him, his policies, his staff, his actions, and words are a continuing thread running through the book. At the end of each chapter describing her horrific experiences with Dennis, the author includes a short section in which she compares the actions and attitudes of the US President with those of her ex-husband. For example, she compares Dennis’ cold disinterest with Trump’s lack of “affective attachment” to others: “Melania is rarely seen…he fires people by tweet.”

While not all readers will agree with the author’s conclusions, and some may reject this theory altogether, the bravery she exhibits in writing this and postulating such controversial connections is laudable. The best audience for her compelling memoir will be among those who, like her, have had a partner or friend with NPD and need advice and encouragement.

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