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upworthy
Democracy

A psychologist explains Trump's lack of conscience and warns of what a 2nd term would bring

A psychologist explains Trump's lack of conscience and warns of what a 2nd term would bring
Public Domain/Elizabeth Mika/Twitter

The president of the United States is not insane—probably. He is not mentally ill—probably. His word salads and boorish, bullying behavior aren't explained by a psychological disorder that could be treated with medication or therapy—unfortunately.

All signs seem to point to President Trump having a personality disorder, which is actually far, far more troubling. Personality disorders are virtually untreatable, meaning his poor character qualities are baked into who he is. It cannot be altered and will not change.

This is not news to many of us, of course. But it's an important thing to understand, as the president of the United States continues to hold superspreader events in the middle of an uncontrolled pandemic and as we careen toward the most consequential election of our lifetime.



Elizabeth Mika is one of dozens of psychologists who publicly raised a red flag when Trump first announced his run for the presidency. Reading her essays from pre-election 2016, it's almost spooky how well she nailed who Trump is, how he operates, why his base loves him, why the GOP pivoted to support him, and why the rest of us are left disturbed and frustrated by both him and his cult-like following. It's part of the president's pathology and what happens when someone like him gains power.

"My opinion, based on observations of his behavior, public accounts from his family and associates, and all the information we have about his developmental and relational history, is that he is a malignant narcissist." Mika tells Upworthy.

"Malignant narcissism is the extreme end of the narcissistic spectrum," she explains. "It is a condition comprised of psychopathy, sadism, manipulativeness, and paranoia, in addition to narcissism. The term, not found in DSM, was coined by Erich Fromm who considered malignant narcissism the most dangerous form of psychopathology known to humankind. Narcissistic psychopathy may also apply. I use these terms interchangeably, although malignant narcissism encompasses a greater range of clinical manifestations."

Mika says that there may be other issues present, but the core of who Trump is is based in his "lack of conscience (psychopathy)" and his "unusual ego fragility that manifests in his insatiable need for adulation (narcissism)."

"By the way, this is a character defect and not a mental illness," Mika adds. "It is fixed (unchangeable), permanent, and incurable. It is who he is. The defect, to be precise, is chiefly his missing conscience, which makes him incapable of empathy, guilt, and shame, unable to experience higher level feelings, and understand and respect higher values. We may not need clinical labels if I understand that this last sentence defines Trump's character."

Having grown up in post-WWII Soviet-occupied Poland, Mika has a unique perspective on the president and the threat his narcissistic psychopathy poses to the nation. She has lived in the U.S. since 1987, but Mika says her upbringing sensitized her to authoritarian regimes. "I have noticed that people who grew up in oppressive regimes, as well as victims of narcissistic abuse, were the first to raise alarms about Trump's presidency." she says.

One weird feature of the Trump era is that for millions of us, this assessment of Trump might best be summed up as "Well, duh." His pathology is glaringly, painfully obvious. Even if it's refreshing to see it laid out so clearly, none of it is surprising. And yet, for millions of others, hearing that the leader of our country is missing a conscience makes no difference. The worse he behaves, the more his base salivates.

Mika has an explanation for that as well.

"There are many people, of course, who don't see anything wrong with Trump," she says. "On the contrary, they adore those traits that we see as pathological and believe that they make him a great leader. They elect him because his pathological character traits best suit their agendas, namely the destruction of the existing socio-political structure and their 'enemies'—typically The Others—whom they blame for their life failures."

"As I write in 'Trumpian Victory,' she continues, "Trumpism is about rage and revenge: rage that stems from aggrieved entitlement, but also from the very real wounds, and the revenge on those who are seen, mostly erroneously, as responsible for those wounds...Malignant politicians will steer people's anger away from themselves and other responsible parties, and blame it on easy, vulnerable scapegoats—immigrants, refugees, minorities, women, eternal Others."

In her writings, Mika also talks about "collective narcissism" and "narcissistic collusion" to explain the bond between Trump and his base, who see in him a way to fulfill their own dreams and wishes.

"He makes them promises that he cannot and does not intend to keep, but it does not matter," she says. "What matters is maintaining the shared illusion of their glory, future prosperity, greatness, and scapegoating The Others for their misery—the last one an absolutely necessary component of the malignantly narcissistic leader's appeal."

In "Trumpian Victory"—which she wrote in July of 2016—Mika explained the cult-like qualities that some Trump supporters exhibit:

"Narcissistic leaders and their followers fit together like hand and glove, as their pathological needs become enmeshed, to everyone's detriment. The leader obtains thousands of mirrors to reflect his glory, an open and ongoing line of narcissistic supply that feeds his insatiable desire for adulation and power, at least for some time; and his followers receive The Ideal to emulate, which, via emotional identification, patches up their inner wounds and makes them feel whole, if only for a while. In this state of heightened narcissistic collusion that suspends reason and conscience, anything, no matter how unrealistic or vile, becomes possible and necessary, including a bloodbath or several."

Many of us feel like we barely recognize what our society and political life look like in the Trump era. We've seen people we thought were smart fall into deep wells of disinformation, we've watched norms and institutions and checks and balances crumble before our eyes, and we struggle to make sense of it all. Mika explains that this as the predictable path of a pathological president.

"Once these characterologically defective individuals assume power," she says, "their unaddressed pathology is normalized—because normal people are either hesitant to talk about it and/or don't see and understand what it happening—gradually taking over and reshaping the entire system (organization, country) according to their primitive, valueless, transactional view of the world and relationships. In pathocracy, truth is erased, norms are destroyed, and propaganda turns reality upside down. When pathocracy is led by a malignantly narcissistic leader, as it is usually the case, the society and its institutions are perverted into vehicles of meeting his primitive needs for power and self-aggrandizement."

So what does this mean for a second term, if Trump happens to win on Tuesday?

"It would be the end of America as we know it," Mika says bluntly. "A full blown reign of pathocracy of the kind that we are already seeing at work in the Trumpian unreality fueled by lies, grandiose boasts, rage directed at The Others—immigrants, minorities, political opponents—and wide-ranging incitements of violence, which would become policy as well. Trump's second term will be oriented toward revenge on his critics, solidifying his power, padding his pockets, and destroying the last remnants of the institutions that stand in his way to absolute power."

Mika described the psychology of that process in her essay, Tyranny as a Triumph of Narcissism that was published in the book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump."

Why have we not seen more focus on the president's obviously dangerous pathologies? Many psychologists have been reticent to speak publicly due to the "Goldwater Rule," which says that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion about a person's mental health unless they have conducted an examination and been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

"It is a reasonable rule, protecting both patients and psychiatrists," says Mika, "but it is not set in stone, obviously. And in our situation, where the nation has been beset with the mentally unsound leader, the rule has been viewed more as a gag order, against which many have rebelled anyway."

"We have a pathological president whose character defect is the defining feature of everything that happens in our political life today, and that includes our botched COVID response that has resulted in so much needless death and suffering," says Mika. "Pretending that these problems—namely, Trump's psychopathology—do not exist is an insult to our decency and common sense."

"Such denial is, however, a predictable mechanism in the spread of pathocracy—the rule of people without a functioning conscience (psychopaths, narcissists, and their ilk)," she adds. "And pathocracy is upon us, which is why silence is not an acceptable response from those who see what has been taking place around us."

As grim as that may sound, Mika is hopeful about the future.

"One major reason I started to write about Trump and Trumpism in 2016 was to warn that 1. Yes, he would be elected, and 2. Once elected, he would destroy America as we know it. He would not pivot, as some hoped, nor surround himself with good advisors and other such self-serving futile tales passed around during that time." (Like I said, she nailed him from the get-go.)

"However," she says, "I am more optimistic now than I was in 2016 when I wrote about what was to come for us under Trump. Those things did come, of course, and the nearest future will be very difficult, but my optimism comes from the belief—knowledge, even—that our developmental trajectory as a species is trending toward realization of higher values. Slowly, and with scary detours, but surely. It is a process of positive disintegration. Our task here, on this planet, is to transform pain and suffering into compassion and love, and this is more clear, to me, now than it was in 2016. Thus the greater optimism, despite the darkness on our horizon."

"Trump's presidency is a necessary confrontation with our shadow," says Mika, "which allows us to see ourselves more truthfully, and thus unleashes the forces needed for healing and transformation. The surge of new voters we are seeing now alone is a sign of the change spurred on by Trumpism."

We know what we're looking at. We've seen what psychologists warned us about play out, and we see it continuing to play out in Trump's rhetoric and rallies.

"We have now this opportunity to become aware of the deep psychological processes working in and through us and thus change them," Mika says. We can only change things of which we are conscious. This is our chance.

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

A Taco Bell drive-thru.

Natasha Long, a mother in Pennsylvania, is calling Taco Bell Manager Becky Arbaugh her “guardian angel” after she saved her 11-month-old son who stopped breathing. Long was out running some errands with her son when she pulled into a Taco Bell drive-thru in Richboro when she realized that something was wrong.

"I ran out of the car and ran around and opened the car door," Long told ABC affiliate WPVI. "I pulled him out and he turned completely blue and was lifeless. At that point, I just completely blacked out. I didn't know what to do."

Arbaugh, who was busy working the lunch rush, heard Long call out for help. "I heard a scream, and then someone yelled out, 'Call 911, the baby isn’t breathing!'" she told Good Morning America. Arbuagh wasted no time running to Long’s aid while one of her employees dialed 911.

"I threw my headset and ran outside to the baby. The mom was panicked. I told her to give him to me and I performed CPR," Arbaugh recalled. "I was trying to calm her down and comfort her and reassure her that he will be fine."


"The baby finally started to breathe. The ambulance came pretty quickly and then they took over," Arbaugh said. "The EMT said I saved his life."

Pennsylvania Taco Bell manager helps save baby who couldn't breathe

Arbaugh, a mother of 2 boys and 2 girls, was well-versed in how to perform infant CPR and understood the importance of staying calm. "When my kids were little, my daughter had a similar incident, so I knew what she was feeling," she told WPVI. "I knew if I kept her calm and I stayed calm, there was no thought in my mind that the baby wasn't going to breathe again."

Taco Bell’s employees are proud of Arbaugh’s heroic deed. "We are incredibly proud of Becky from the Taco Bell brand’s Richboro, PA, location for her heroic act earlier this week. We are getting in touch to express appreciation for her quick actions and kindness,” the company said in a statement to People.

Since the incident, the women have been in contact with each other and are friends on Facebook. Long has been sharing pictures and videos of her son with Arbaugh to remind her of the precious life she saved. Even though Arbaugh performed the ultimate good deed, saving a baby’s life, she doesn’t consider herself a hero—just another mom looking out for her own.

"I’m just a mom helping a mom. I didn’t do anything different from what anyone else should be doing," Arbaugh told NBC. "I knew how that was, and I heard it, and I felt it instantly and I had to go and help her cause I knew it’s painful. You’re just so helpless as a mom when that happens."

This incredible story out of Pennsylvania is a reminder for every one of the importance of learning CPR. You never know when—just like Arbaugh—you may find yourself in the position to save a life.

To sign up for a class and learn how to perform CPR, visit RedCross.com.




"The baby finally started to breathe. The ambulance came pretty quickly and then they took over," Arbaugh said. "The EMT said I saved his life."

[Video]

Arbaugh, a mother of 2 boys and 2 girls, was well-versed in how to perform infant CPR and understood the importance of staying calm. "When my kids were little, my daughter had a similar incident, so I knew what she was feeling," she told WPVI. "I knew if I kept her calm and I stayed calm, there was no thought in my mind that the baby wasn't going to breathe again."

Taco Bell’s employees are proud of Arbaugh’s heroic deed. "We are incredibly proud of Becky from the Taco Bell brand’s Richboro, PA, location for her heroic act earlier this week. We are getting in touch to express appreciation for her quick actions and kindness,” the company said in a statement to People.

Since the incident, the women have been in contact with each other, becoming friends on Facebook. Long has been sharing pictures and videos of her son with Arbaugh to reminder of the precious life she saved. Even though Arbaugh performed the ultimate good deed, saving a baby’s life, she doesn’t consider herself a hero—just another mom looking out for her own.

"I’m just a mom helping a mom. I didn’t do anything different from what anyone else should be doing," Arbaugh told NBC. "I knew how that was, and I heard it, and I felt it instantly and I had to go and help her cause I knew it’s painful. You’re just so helpless as a mom when that happens."

This incredible story out of Pennsylvania is a reminder for every one of the importance of learning CPR. You never know when—just like Arbaugh—you may find yourself in the position to save a life.

To sign up for a class and learn how to perform CPR, visit RedCross.com.



Michael B. Jordan speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Black Panther", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

As long as humans have endeavored to do anything great, there have been those who have tried to take them down. These are the opposite of the creators in life: the bullies, haters and naysayers who only want to bring people down to their level.

But when you have a dream and desire, its easy to tune out the voices of negativity. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

Some folks use the naysayers as fuel to push them to work even harder. Basketball legend Michael Jordan was infamous for letting his thirst for revenge drive him to even greater heights on the court.


Another Michael Jordan, "Black Panther" star, Michael B. Jordan, came face to face with someone who doubted that he could reach his dreams, and he wasn’t shy about letting her know that he remembered. What's Upworthy about the encounter is that he did so with class and confidence.

In 2023, Jordan was on the red carpet for the premiere of "Creed III," a film he starred in and directed. He was interviewed by “The Morning Hustle” radio show host Lore’l, who had recently admitted on the “Undressing Room” podcast that she used to make fun of him in school.

“You know what’s so crazy? I went to school with Michael B. Jordan at a point in life,” Lore’l said. “And to be honest with you, we teased him all the damn time because his name was Michael Jordan. Let’s start there, and he was no Michael Jordan.”

“He also would come to school with a headshot,” she added. “We lived in Newark. That’s the hood. We would make fun of him like, ‘What you gonna do with your stupid headshot?’ And now look at him!”

In addition, her co-host, Eva Marcille, referred to Jordan as “corny.”

Jordan had no problem discussing their past on the red carpet. “We go way back, all the way back to Chad Science [Academy] in Newark,” Lore’l told the actor. Oh yeah, I was the corny kid, right?” Jordan responded with a smirk.

“No, you did not hear me say that! I said we used to make fun of the name,” Lore’l said.

“I heard it,” Jordan said. “I heard it. It’s all good. What’s up?” he responded. “But yeah, [you are] obviously killing things out here…you’re not corny anymore,” Lore’l clarified.

After the exchange went viral, Lore’l admitted that she teased Jordan in school, but they were only classmates for one year.

“So the narrative that I bullied him all throughout high school—this was 7th grade. We were like 12 years old, and everyone made fun of each other,” Lore’l said. “That was school, you know. That was one year. And, again, I’ve never bullied him. That just sounds so outrageous to me.”

Jordan later shared some advice on how to deal with bullies.

"Just stay focused, just stay locked in,” he told a reporter from Complex. “You know, just follow your heart, try to block out the noise and distractions as much as possible and run your race. Don't compare yourself to anybody else. Just keep going."

Pop Culture

Sports? The Royal Family? Joe Rogan? 15 things people can’t believe adults take seriously.

"Sports. I get it. It's entertainment. But calm down. You aren't on the team."

Should adults take sports or Joe Rogan so seriously?

When we take a look at humanity, there are countless things we take seriously, that may not matter in the grand scheme of things. Many of us also have a soft spot for ideas that aren’t exactly scientific.

No one is perfect, and it's okay for us to take pleasure in being invested in some forms of inconsequential entertainment simply because they are fun. The trouble comes when people waste their lives and resources on ridiculous things that do more harm than good.

The key idea is that no one is immune from taking something seriously that others may think is a waste of time. But, to each their own or vive la différence as the French put it.


A Redditor who goes by the username Hogw33d asked the AskReddit forum, “What is something you can't believe real grownup people take seriously?” Many people responded that they don’t understand how some people can invest so much time and energy into things they deem frivolous.

The list was a great way for some to vent but it also provides a solid skeptics guide to some of the pitfalls we may unwillingly fall into in life.

Here are 15 things people “can’t believe” that “real grownup people take seriously.”

​1. Community theater

"This is niche but community theatre. The DRAMA among grown adults is insane, worse than when I was in high school. Like yall, we are singing and dancing and wearing silly costumes. It’s not that serious." — MediocreVideo1893

2. MLMs (multi-level marketing)

"I just don't understand how people keep falling for it. They always think that there's a difference. It's all the same pyramid scheme y'all." — IsItTurkeyNeckorDick

"I think we should take them way more seriously. They can do massive damage to a person's financial and mental health. We need to stop treating them as a cute thing that naive people get sucked into, and ban them for the scam they are." — Hydro123456

3. Flat Earthers

"I think it actually started as a sort of debating society. Just for people to practice and become better at rhetoric. But, they actually convinced some people and now, this is what we have." — Addicus

"There’s one of those apocryphal quotes that goes along the lines of, 'Any group of people that get their laughs pretending to be idiots is bound to be taken over by actual idiots who think they’ve found good company." — RilohKeen

4. Social media outrage

"Social media in general. Too many people believe every clickbait headline or buy into whatever trend is taking over. Feels like people can't self soothe and need the validation or something, it's just weird." — Cynn13

"'Outrage over Z' 'People slam Y' And it's only like a few people on Twitter or Reddit and they present it as some huge backlash or major issue lol." — Sclubadubdub

"The political news channels do almost nothing other than this. They tell viewers the other party is outraged about something that you never find a real person outraged by and create culture wars that no one is actually fighting." — Herbdontana

5. Reality TV

"It's all fake, too. An acquaintance of mine works at a major studio. Those shows are all scripted and fake." — SpaceMoneky3301967

6. Sports fans

"People take being a fan of a sport (or team) way too seriously, imo. I promise you don't need to riot because 'your team' lost." — AdmirableProgress743

"My husband works himself into such a state over something he can't control and is, imo, of absolutely no consequence to his life. He's toned it down because I told him the screaming and cursing terrorize me and our daughter. But he stews and mutters obscenities." — Complex_Yam_5390

7. Scientology

"Might as well just say every religion. They're all coocoo bonkers." — JenniferC1714

8. Gossip

"Gossip in general. I live in a small town and it is maddening how people here are so serious about it. It's not light fun chatting, it's all SCANDAL and we need to take ACTION. I swear a lot of people's problems would be immediately solved if they just stopped giving a sh*t what everyone else does (to an extent)." — Buffalopantry

9. Facebook

"My mom will literally call me up if I didn't like a recent post of hers. There have been a few times where she asked why I didn't like every photo she just posted. It's maddening. I've also had periods of deactivating my fb only for my mom to guilt me into reactivating it." — Zealousideal_Mix6771

10. Billionaire 'geniuses'

"Elon Musk and other billionaire 'geniuses.' People are pretty freaking gullible." — GladysSchwartz23

"Most average people don’t realize that being incredibly smart doesn’t automatically mean you are good at doing things like running a large company. They tend to assume people at the top must be there based on merit. In reality, there are some massively stupid people running huge companies, and there some brilliant people who are shoveling shit for a living." — Captcha_Trampstamp

11. The royal family

"I have a news app on my phone and no matter how much I tweak my interest to avoid any gossip BS I still get "Breaking News! Some insignificant bullshit about the Royals". It's not news, it's not interesting, stop reporting this utter drivel." — Sclubadubdub

12. Religion

“The creator of the universe impregnated a virgin, only to deliberately kill the child 30 years later, to save people from…himself.” — Opteryx5

"I grew up figuring everyone was just roleplaying and was shocked to learn religion is taken seriously by many people. It was a real eye-opener for someone who grew up in a secular environment." — Kilterboard_addict

13. Vaccine skeptics

"I work in medicine and am starting to get really worried about the vaccine skepticism. It used to be a little more rare, so I would counsel, they spout incorrect information, I tell give a little retort/response, and then move on because time is tight. But now it’s happening so often that I’m working way harder to persuade because I feel a strong obligation to fight all the bullshit info that has obviously taken hold." — KellyNJames

14. Loud exhaust systems on cars

"As someone who lives next to traffic lights and can hear all y'all shi**y music and loud exhausts all day... I approve this message." — Rainbow-Singbird

15. Joe Rogan

"The whole 'I’m just an idiot don’t pay any attention to what I say' schtick doesn’t really work anymore." — FoucaultsPrudendum

"It was great when he had a guest that was in academia, like a physicist or something. I would skip over most of the comedy buddy circle jerks he would host. Then when COVID happened I had to stop entirely. He fully went off the deep end then. Still, he introduced me to Dan Carlin's work, for which I am very grateful." — Xczechir

Lost girl mistakes Mariska Hargitay as a real police officer

There's not much scarier for a parent or child than to temporarily lose sight of each other. Kids do all sorts of things that they may find funny that can give their parents a mini panic attack. Nearly every person has taken their turn hiding in a clothes rack at their local department store as a child, momentarily giving your parent a fright.

But sometimes it's not just a quick break in visual contact. Sometimes parent and child find themselves separated for more than a few seconds while in public. That's when panic sets in as both parties frantically search for the other. One mom and daughter found themselves in this very scary situation while at Anne Loftus Playground in New York City while Mariska Hargitay was filming an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

The little girl spotted Hargitay dressed as her character, Olivia Benson and assumed she was an actual police officer due to her badge. Instead of redirecting the little girl to resume filming, the seasoned actor halted production to try to help.


In an interview with People before the premier of the 25th season of the hit procedural series, Hargitay reveals, “We’ve been on a parallel journey,” she said. “There’s a thing: WWOBD, ‘What would Olivia Benson do?’ The fans would always talk about it, and one day it hit me. I also have those moments where I’ve sort of slipped into her. If there’s a crisis, I just take over and lead like that. Being strong and fearless. It’s sort of this perfect feminist story.”

Turns out that method is true. Fans captured the unscripted scene where the pretend detective helped a real missing little girl find her mom. You can watch the entire thing unfold below in still pictures from fans who watched the selfless moment. According to PIX11 News, Hargitay's selfless act halted production for over 20 minutes, but ultimately the girl was reunited with her mom.