Update: Aug. 13, 2016
Trump is a narcissist. I’m no psychiatric professional, but diagnosing Trump as a narcissist takes no more expertise than diagnosing a guy who dresses as Scarlet O’Hara and talks to himself while he wanders through Times Square with a dead goose strapped to his head as “nuts.” Hal Brown argues at the Daily Kos that reviewing the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) , applying them to Trump and suggesting that having certain of them to the level he does precludes him from being fit to be president isn’t unethical at all. Brown, who is a clinician, cites two typical description of the disorder:
It doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to read these and immediately think “Trump.” The Goldwater Rule has the perverse result of leaving a diagnosis of the obvious to amateurs (like me) and precluding trained professional from confirming it. Voters who are completely unfamiliar with the disorder need to understand and think about it when someone like Trump is nearing the levers of power. Brown insists that a mental health professional not flagging the problem when they see strong evidence that someone is dangerous may be unethical.
.On the other hand, I am troubled where Brown’s way leads. Most professional organizations are dominated by Democrats, which means the members are likely to be biased. Thus there is a greater likelihood that the force of medical expertise will be used as a partisan weapon, though Brown writes as if that isn’t even an issue. Of course it’s an issue. Why, for example, wasn’t there any need to remind members of the American Psychiatric Association about the Goldwater Rule when Barack Obama was first running for President? He is certainly not a poster child for Narcissistic Personality Disorder like Trump, but he display a lot of the traits. Also, though Brown doesn’t acknowledge this either, many U.S. Presidents, good, bad and great, have scored high on the narcissism scale. A psychiatric professional pronouncing Trump or any candidate as a narcissist is likely to be simplified by the news media and the public into a simple “he’s crazy,” with crazy equaling “dangerous.”
Last night Lawrence O’Donnell shows the DSM-5 list of symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and read them one at a time to show that Trump deserved a check mark on each and every one. His panel, which included psychologist George K. Simon
, agreed that Trump’s personality disorder made him unfit to serve as president.
Since Trump began his run for president I think that the first major publication to print an article by a psychologist, Dan McAdams, diagnosing Trump as having a narcissistic personality disorder was The Atlantic
, see right. This was not just an article, it was the cover story. I wrote about this here on April 29th.
Think back, I thought this was the first time I wrote a diary about Trump’s mental condition. But then to be sure, I checked my diary list and realized this was the first I wrote on the subject 10 days earlier. This diary was prompted by Trump’s statement about 9-11: “I was down there and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-11, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down.” To most it was seen as a mere slip of the tongue but as a therapist trained in psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy, I take such slips seriously.
Consider all the indications that Trump is mentally imbalanced that have occurred since then, and then slog your way through what I wrote on April 19th, below:
The more I observed the way Trump seemed to talk like he’s on amphetamines the more I became convinced that there’s something wrong with the way his brain functions. I’m not talking about all the traits he has of clinical narcissistic personality disorder. I am referring to cognitive functioning. That’s just what this country needs, a narcissist with a broken brain.
Does his obsession with illegal immigration come from having Mexican jumping beans in his brain? That’s how he talks. When faced with a microphone he has to fill empty moments with talking points.
Under the least bit of pressure he demonstrates that his has what therapists like me call a looseness of associations or derailment, i.e. shifting from one topic to another in ways that are obliquely related or completely unrelated. This is often a symptom of serious mental disorders.
Coming out of his voting place this morning, when reporters asked how it felt to be voting for himself, he couldn’t even answer that simple question with a reflective feeling-centered response. He said, apparently referring to himself, that “it’s a great honor for New York.” He had to throw in “my whole reason for doing this is to make America great again.”
That is something that gets therapists to wondering about both a person’s cognitive functioning and their ability to be introspective. If someone isn’t introspective I doubt they have much interest in understanding how other people feel.
One of the prominent characteristics of a narcissist is lack of empathy:
Simply put, 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. (Mayo Clinic)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a disorder that is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. While this pattern of behavior may be appropriate for a king in 16th Century England, it is generally considered inappropriate for most ordinary people today. ( Psych Central )
Of course a narcissist can be a hedonist. There is evidence that Trump fits the definition of a hedonist. A hedonist lives for pleasure. Trump’s life style is hedonistic. The ostentatious trappings of wealth combine with the enormous pleasure he takes in amassing money.
Not to be too syrupy, but what, you may ask this therapist, is my definition of a healthy balance in life? I agree with just about every psychologist and philosopher that a life well-lived is based on love, faith (for some), expressing creativity, making a contribution and doing for others. On the later, nobody has ever suggested Trump is an altruist!
Trump is a New Yorker. He’s speaking in New York, and instead of 9/11, he just referred to that tragic iconic event, an event that changed our world as much as Pearl Harbor, and now is simply known by the date it occurred on as 9/11.
“I was down there and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-11, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down,” Trump said. “And I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.”
Seven and 11 are the winning first throws in the dice game of craps. This is why novice players sometimes say “seven come 11” before they throw the dice.
One could say that because Trump made a fortune on gambling, and that these numbers are always near the forefront of his consciousness.
This isn’t merely a misspeak, it is a Freudian slip. This tells us far more about Trump and shouldn’t be written off. It has convinced me that he really does want to be president for one reason, and it’s not to make America great again as he says.
It’s so he can be the most powerful person in the world.
And then there’s this from another diary I wrote:
“[Obama] doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands,” Trump said.
Does Trump really think Obama is a secret Muslim? If he does that makes him clinically paranoid.
It won’t matter to Trump when we learn, as I think we will, that Omar Mateen was motivated primarily or exclusively by homophobia. He will keep insisting that he was a radical Islamist and that his murder spree was ISIS terrorism. His supporters of course will believe him. The hell with evidence! Not only is this the most horrible mass shooting in the United States, but it is many times over the worst LGBT hate crime ever. To ignore that for political purposes is a punch in the face to all LGBT people.
If Trump is just stoking the fears of anti-Obama conspiracy theorists (and not mentally ill) then he has stooped possibly to his lowest low since his birther claims. If he actually believes this, we have to add yet another psychiatric diagnosis to those which he has demonstrated symptoms of. So add another diagnosis to narcissistic personality disorder, anti-social personality disorder, and impulse control disorder. I’ve highlighted the symptoms of paranoid personality disorder that apply to Trump.
Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is a mental disorder characterized by paranoia and a pervasive, long-standing suspiciousness and generalized mistrust of others. Individuals with this personality disorder may be hypersensitive, easily insulted, and habitually relate to the world by vigilant scanning of the environment for clues or suggestions that may validate their fears or biases. Paranoid individuals are eager observers. They think they are in danger and look for signs and threats of that danger, potentially not appreciating other evidence.
They tend to be guarded and suspicious and have quite constricted emotional lives. Their reduced capacity for meaningful emotional involvement and the general pattern of isolated withdrawal often lend a quality of schizoid isolation to their life experience.[verification needed]People with PPD may have a tendency to bear grudges, suspiciousness, tendency to interpret others' actions as hostile, persistent tendency to self-reference, or a tenacious sense of personal right. Patients with this disorder can also have significant comorbidity with other personality disorders. Wikipedia
Most of my therapist friends and acquaintances have chosen to work with patients who are highly motivated to get better, and for whom there is a high chance of success. Even those who treat the chronically mentally ill, developmentally disabled, or with substance abuse problems (and part of my program had a unit where we did that) we know that with smart, compassionate treatment the lives of these people can be drastically improved.
The bane of therapists are patients or clients who have personality disorders. It is the exception rather than the rule that they come into therapy on their own. This is because most people with personality disorders lack insight into themselves. They don’t generally think they have a problem. They tend to come in because their spouse has issued an ultimatum or they are court ordered.
Trump would be a nightmare client. I assume there would be a psychotherapist somewhere who would agree to treat him for enough money. I’m not rich, and it would be nice to buy that Tesla, but no amount of money would induce me to treat him. www.dailykos.com/...
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