My biggest fear about Trump’s managing to swing the election by convincing enough voters that his unhinged behavior and deplorable comments were just shtick has been proved to be needless. The Trump we see is the real Trump. He can’t be taught to act normally because he doesn’t know what normal is. He can’t be instructed on how to appear contrite because it isn’t in his makeup. He ranks zero on any empathy scale.
An actor can be directed to “act as if you’re sad” only if they know how it feels to be sad.
As if the previous debates when he was under pressure to come across as presidential didn’t prove this, this HuffPo story about his appearance on a Comedy Central roast does prove it beyond any doubt.
As a psychotherapist I’ve written a lot here about trying to analyze Trump’s personality. I’ve concluded that he has so many dysfunctional traits, habits, and behaviors that he can’t really be diagnosed. He needs a new diagnosis — one named for him — albeit so far with an N of one since nobody even similar to him has surfaced. He can join the 13 or so people, albeit all scientists, who had diseases named after them, Alzheimer, Huntington, and others.
Trump’s extreme narcissism is indicated by the quote at right.
His misogyny by this:
The plan called for Trump to be driven onto the stage in a gilded golf cart flanked by beautiful women. There, he’d hand his coat to another woman before taking his seat on the roastee’s throne. But during the dress rehearsal, Trump grabbed Robert Ferkle, who served as the production’s stage manager.
The proposed woman, Trump said, was “not somebody he wanted to be associated with at that moment,” Ferkle recalled. “In other words, she was not pretty enough.”
Producers were warned that there were to be no jokes about his not being as wealthy as he claimed to be and no jokes about his hair.
The biggest revelation in the article was not knowing what most other people — besides his boys on the bus — will find funny also says a lot about his lack of empathy, his lack of understanding of others and how they feel is almost suggestive of Asperger’s — plus he can’t spell “they’re” which is what kids learn in early grade school.
“One thing that stuck out to me during rehearsal,” Larsen said, “is he would always poll the people around him if they thought it was funny. He never really seemed to have a grasp on what was funny and why it was funny. He was always looking at others to validate if it was funny.”
“I have done this a long time and nobody blacks out punchlines,” said Jesse Joyce, one of the writers. Scrapping punchlines represents “a classic lack of an understanding of how a joke works,” he added.
Trump’s edits were all over the place. He crossed out an entire riff on condoms in the first draft, scribbling “No” in the margin. Elsewhere, he seemed to revel at opportunities to be crass. He complained a line suggesting Lisa Lampanelli should “shut the fuck up” didn’t end with an exclamation point. But in a later revision, he wanted to switch the line to “get off the stage.”
What people find amusing tell us a lot about them. The meanness of Trump, his taking pleasure in other people’s discomfort or pain which could be defined as sadistic is illustrated by this:
Trump made a few lackluster attempts at cracking wise. He changed a joke meant to slam MacFarlane from: “The only way you’ll ever draw a crowd is with a pencil.” Trump’s revision: “The only crowd you’ll attract is flies.”
The head of the writing team, Ray James, had the insight to now what Trump would be most sensitive about, but was overruled. Too bad.
“I begged any writer to get on board,” James said. “‘Let’s write jokes about this guy having a small cock.’ ... I wanted to destroy this man and expose him as having a tiny penis because that will hurt him more than any jokes about his family or orange skin.”
James couldn’t convince anyone, so the dick jokes stayed out.
Trump’s boasting braggadocio came out too:
Even in a script designed to be self-effacing, Trump couldn’t resist boosting himself. At the conclusion of the rebuttal, in an exaggerated (even by Trumpian standards) riff about how he lives in a “25,000 square-foot penthouse atop my solid-gold space station,” Trump ordered that the square footage be goosed to 50,000. He changed a line that read, “I’m sorry, I must go now and make a million dollars somewhere else,” to a “billion” dollars.
All I can say is that I used to think I was a good diagnostician. After Trump —
It’s worth using up one of your 10 free New York Times clicks to read this David Brooks OpEd, on Trump’s lonely sad life ..
Imagine you are Trump. You are trying to bluff your way through a debate. You’re running for an office you’re completely unqualified for. You are chasing some glimmer of validation that recedes ever further from view.
Your only rest comes when you are insulting somebody, when you are threatening to throw your opponent in jail, when you are looming over her menacingly like a mafioso thug on the precipice of a hit, when you are bellowing that she has “tremendous hate in her heart” when it is clear to everyone you are only projecting what is in your own.
Trump’s emotional makeup means he can hit only a few notes: fury and aggression. In some ways, his debate performances look like primate dominance displays — filled with chest beating and looming growls. But at least primates have bands to connect with, whereas Trump is so alone, if a tree fell in his emotional forest, it would not make a sound.
Brooks says that Trump suffers from “narcissistic alexithymia.”
I had to look this up — Alexithymia is a personality construct characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions in the self. The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating. Furthermore, individuals with alexithymia have difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of others, which is thought to lead to unempathic and ineffective emotional responding. Alexithymia is prevalent in approximately 10% of the general population and is known to be comorbid with a number of psychiatric conditions.
— not much research on how it’s associated with NPD but it makes sense that with some there’s comorbidity. The Brooks article is insightful. I still don’t feel sorry for Trump. One can suffer without lashing out at others with the delight of a sadist (or sexual arousal).