As his presidential campaign marches on, with seemingly no scandal or gaff harming him in the least, millions of sane Americans have been asking, in the words of Henry Alford of Vanity Fair: “What exactly is wrong with this strange individual?”
Now, science has finally answered that question…
While there is no official clinical diagnosis of psychopathy, the textbook traits of it and related Anti Social Personality disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Sociopathy, are somewhat easy to spot once you know the signs.
The failure for there to be an official way to diagnose these disorders is due more to the fact that the individuals who have these traits are adept at masking them, or giving the answers to questions that psychologists “want” to hear.
Donald Trump is “remarkably narcissistic,” according developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis explained.
The Mayo Clinic explains “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
They add that “a narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life.” The sufferer “may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you’re not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve.”
Clinical psychologist George Simon said that Trump is “so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics.” He conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior exhibited by narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths – all related Anti Social Personality Disorders. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”
The Raw Story makes the following poignant observations:
Trump’s shortage of empathy can be seen clearly by his stances on topics like immigration. Instead of recognizing that the data shows that most Mexican immigrants are not violent, but instead people simply looking for a place where actual opportunity exists, with a broad brush he claims that they are “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” In a similar vein, Trump has vowed to ban all Muslims from entering the country should he be elected. It appears that his lack of empathy has distorted his mind’s ability to grasp the fact that the refugees he speaks of are actually seeking safety from the same murderous maniacs that he wants to keep out. Perhaps if Trump had relatives in countries like Syria and Iraq, he might understand the constant fear that most live under, and in turn become more willing to welcome them with open arms rather than leaving them to be slaughtered.
But a lack of empathy is just one part of narcissistic personality disorder. Just beneath the surface layer of overwhelming arrogance lies a delicate self-esteem that is easily injured by any form of criticism. We have all seen Trump unjustifiably lash out at a number of people with harsh and often extremely odd personal attacks. When he thought he had been treated unfairly by Fox News host and Republican debate moderator Megyn Kelly, he responded by calling her a “bimbo” and later saying that she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” In response to the strange, misogynistic comments Kelly said that she “may have overestimated his anger management skills.” If the news host would have pegged him as a bona fide narcissist from the beginning she might have expected such shamelessly flagrant behavior.
Narcissism, Psychopath and Sociopathy used to be lumped together synonymously, under the banner of Anti Social Personality Disorder. But today the disorders are divided in subtle, nuanced, but very similar ways. There is a lot of overlap – in fact more overlap than not.
Carol Caldwell notes, in D.J. Trump, Psychopath, that “it’s been attested to by psychologists and neurobiologists who study psycho- and sociopaths that the deadly syndrome can be seen in their eyes.”
She observes that “the eyes are described as affectless, what we would call cold, or eerily blank in one-on-one or televised exchanges. The sociopath is described as charming, out-going, intelligent, cunning, winning without warmth, but adaptable to whatever human kindness you telegraph to them. As we well know, many of them ascend to top positions in major industries, I might mention Wall Street and banking, heads of Hollywood studios, and members of Congress. On the street levels of everyday life, they work their wiles into all kinds of jobs, by falsifying resumes to fit the careers they are after. One area of human endeavor they seem less adaptable to is refined senses of humor.”
Dr. Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the master’s of bioethics program at Columbia University notes that the American Psychiatric Association says that it is unethical for psychiatrists to comment on an someone’s mental state without having examining them personally. But as Alford notes, “you don’t need to have met Donald Trump to feel like you know him; even the smallest exposure can make you feel like you’ve just crossed a large body of water in a small boat with him.”
“He’s very easy to diagnose,” psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan explained. “In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. “He’ll do anything to demean others, like tellCarly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks,” Alford explains.
Trump’s characteristic “You’re fired!” catchphrase highlights his brutal lack of empathy, as does his hyperwillingness to deport immigrants, even though two of his wives have been immigrants.
Mr. Trump’s bullying nature—taunting Senator John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, or saying Jeb Bush has “low energy”—is in keeping with the narcissistic profile. “In the field we use clusters of personality disorders,” Michaelis said. “Narcissism is in cluster B, which means it has similarities with histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. There are similarities between them. Regardless of how you feel about John McCain, the man served—and suffered. Narcissism is an extreme defense against one’s own feelings of worthlessness. To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it’s antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That’s what he’s doing.”
Wendy Terrie Behary, the author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, says that, “Narcissists are not necessarily liars, but they are notoriously uncomfortable with the truth. The truth means the potential to feel ashamed. If all they have to show the world as a source of feeling acceptable is their success and performance, be it in business or sports or celebrity, then the risk of people seeing them fail or squander their success is so difficult to their self-esteem that they feel ashamed. We call it the narcissistic injury. They’re uncomfortable with their own limitations. It’s not that they’re cut out to lie, it’s just that they can’t handle what’s real.”
Michaelis explains that Trump is “applying for the greatest job in the land, the greatest task of which is to serve, but there’s nothing about the man that is service-oriented. He’s only serving himself.”
Prozan notes that Trump “keeps saying he could negotiate with Putin because he’s good at deals. But diplomacy involves a back and forth between equals.”
Dr. Klitzman added, “I have never met Donald Trump and so cannot comment on his psychological state. However, I think that, in general, many candidates who run for president are driven in large part by ego. I hope that does not preclude their motivation to govern with the best interests of the public as a whole in mind. Yet for some candidates, that may, alas, be a threat.”
Could Trump be helped by clinical treatment?
“I’d be shocked if he walked in my door,” Behary said. “Most narcissists don’t seek treatment unless there’s someone threatening to take something away from them. There’d have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in.”
Gardner added that “for me, the compelling question is the psychological state of his supporters. They are unable or unwilling to make a connection between the challenges faced by any president and the knowledge and behavior of Donald Trump. In a democracy, that is disastrous.”
With someone who is so clearly a Narcissistic Psychopath holding the reigns of power, there are numerous issues of concern for the American people. Just this week, Trump said that he would make it illegal for the media to harshly criticize him. He has similarly advocated for illegal and unconstitutional “ID badges” for Muslim Americans, as well as banning Muslims from immigrating to the United States.
Having a man like seize control of the nation’s policies, police, and military is something that endangers us all. Help SPREAD THE WORD because our future, freedom and maybe even lives depend on making sure Donald Trump doesn’t get into office and carry out the fascist policies he has promised to!