More about the psychopathology of Donald Trump
and how it may influence his behavior
The other day in a diary I speculated that a possible and perhaps unlikely reason Trump took the documents to Mar a Lago was to put them in a kind of trophy room where he could show them off to select people. Media coverage and speculation has focused on nefarious reasons for his taking the documents including his wanting to sell them to foreign adversaries or curry favor with them.
Today I read the following in a Salon Chauncey DeVega with Cheri Jacobus who was one of the first Republican "Never Trumpers." She’s a former media spokesperson at the Republican National Committee.
These parts (in my bold) caught my attention:
Merrick Garland allowed Trump to keep those documents at Mar-a-Lago for a year and a half. He did not initiate the FBI raid — he merely gave his OK. He has harmed our democracy by not acting on the Jan. 6-related Trump crimes, the obstruction outlined in the Mueller report and other Trump crimes. I do believe that public pressure and the excellent work of the Jan. 6 committee is effectively pushing him into action, even though it's tardy. As well, Trump forced his hand by ignoring a subpoena to return the stolen documents, and now we know they were highly sensitive documents about nuclear weapons. It's almost as if Trump wanted this drama and showdown.
Trump is now frantically attempting to justify his taking the now infamous documents. A justification isn’t the same as a reason. As a former psychotherapist I endeavor to understand Trump’s behavior based on my assessment of his personality. I want to know the real reason. It may lay in his psychopathology.
Much has been written about Trump meeting the criteria for malignant narcissism, being a sociopath, and an extreme narcissist. There’s a diagnosis in the DSM-5 that is used for acting out children and adolescents, oppositional defiant disorder (OPD). Individuals with this disorder in childhood sometimes become anti-social personalities (the current name for the old sociopathic disorder).
Consider (from Wikipedia on ODD):
The fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) (now replaced by DSM-5) states that a person must exhibit four out of the eight signs and symptoms to meet the diagnostic threshold for ODD. These symptoms include:
- Often loses temper
- Is often touchy or easily annoyed
- Is often angry and resentful
- Often argues with authority figures or, for children and adolescents, with adults
- Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules
- Often deliberately annoys others
- Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
- Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past six months
(By coincidence as I write this someone on MSNBC discussing the document matter said that Trump has a “reckless contempt for the norms” which fits in with the theme of this diary.)
Back to my postulating a reason Trump first defied the subpoena, what seemed like an offhand tentative remark by Cheri Jacobus, that it’s almost as if Trump wanted this drama and showdown. The key word for me was “almost” because indeed it may actually be because it’s in the nature of Trump to enjoy being the provoker of drama and instigator of showdowns. Maybe this is the real reason he did it.
As I thought of writing this and considered illustrations I thought of Trump being a tornado wrecking devastation. A tornado is a force of nature and it does what it does and goes where it goes because of weather conditions. Trump often acts impulsively and doesn’t think about, or if the gives pause to think he frequently doesn’t care about, the hurtful consequences of his words and actions. He also has a strong oppositional streak and is a megalomanic, an authoritarian, and a sadist who relishes lording his power over people and institutional norms.
All this being considered I wonder if Cheri Jacobus hit on a truth when she brought up the possibility that Trump wanted the drama and showdown over the documents. If this is true all the nefarious reasons being suggested for his taking the documents can be put aside and for the perhaps mundane explanation that he did it because of his psychopathology.
If you have a biblical bent, you could also say Trump is a Chaos Monster, but that can be the subject of a diary from some with actual knowledge of the Bible. I’ll just post an excerpt from The Eyes to Revelation website:
Genesis Day Five: The Chaos Monster
In the Book of Revelation, Satan was symbolized as a great Red Dragon, who persecuted and sought to destroy the Holy Child (Rev. 12:4-5). However, the Chaos Monster can also symbolize certain humans. For example, at Jeremiah 51:34, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (the conqueror of Judea, BC 605-BC 586) was called a Sea Monster (tannin). At Ezekiel 29:3, we learn that the Pharoah of Egypt was also called a Chaos Monster. We read, “This is what the Lord God says, ‘Behold I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, [t]he great monster (tannin) that lies in the midst of his canals, [t]hat has said, “My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it” (Eze. 29:3). At the core of every Chaos Monster is arrogance and the desire to usurp God. Over the years of human history, significant numbers of humans could be classified as Chaos Monsters. Obvious examples include Marx, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Such humans (along with Satan and fallen angels) are enemies of the Divine Order.
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