Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Trump's Mental Illness

The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House gives cause for concern. It's widely recognized that Trump is a narcissist. Most of us have a touch of it, some more than others. Yet extreme narcissism is a recognized mental illness - narcissistic personality disorder. It resembles an unduly self-centered sociopathy.

There's this handy synopsis from the Mayo Clinic:

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life, such as work or school.

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don't receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having "the best" of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection.

Do these traits ring any bells when you think of Donald J. Trump?

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate

Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people

Requiring constant admiration

Having a sense of entitlement

Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations

Taking advantage of others to get what you want

Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

Being envious of others and believing others envy you

Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

So he's a proper arsehole, so what? Why can't a narcissistic chump be president? Why can't he be trusted with the nuclear codes? You might find helpful this paper from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. This brief passage might give you pause:

NPD and psychopathy are considered to be overlapping constructs, both expressing symptoms of grandiosity, compromised empathic functioning, and callousness. In fact, Kernberg2 suggested that narcissism might be the core of psychopathy. 51-53 Psychopathic individuals generally display an inability to form genuine relationships; limited (ie, grandiose) affective processing, especially with respect to anticipatory anxiety and remorse; an impulsive behavioral style involving a general failure to evaluate anticipated actions and inhibit the inappropriate ones; and a chronic antisocial lifestyle that entails great costs to society as well as for the affected individual. 54 While both affective and behavioral characteristics are important elements of psychopathy, the affective deficits have traditionally been considered to be the root cause of the psychopath's problems.

It's tough reading for the layperson but interesting nonetheless. I wonder how many assessments of Trump are being run by America's national security agencies? How do they read his stability, his mental health? Would these masters of the Dark Arts really tolerate someone unhinged in the Oval Office? Prominent Republicans from these services signed an open letter a few months ago in which they pronounced Trump a threat to American security and world peace. Today he's acting ever more irrational, unsteady.

Think back to Richard Nixon's final days in office when Kissinger and the security services questioned their president's mental fitness to the point where measures were taken to prevent him from accessing America's nuclear codes, the "football."


Don't take it from me, a self-styled progressive. Listen to these prominent Republicans:

“Donald Trump is not of sound mind,” conservative Stephen Hayes wrote two weeks ago in the Weekly Standard.

“Have we stopped to appreciate how crazy Donald Trump has gotten recently?” liberal Ezra Klein wrote last week on Vox.

He “appears haunted by multiple personality disorders,” conservative David Brooks wrote last week in the New York Times.

“We can gloss over it, laugh about it, analyze it, but Donald Trump is not a well man,” Stuart Stevens, chief strategist to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, wrote last week on Twitter.

Stevens, the most prominent political figure to persistently broach the subject, conceded that he is “no doctor or psychiatrist.” But he said in an interview that the available evidence leads to two possible conclusions: either Trump has a substance abuse problem, which appears unlikely, or “there is something definitely off about him.”

“At best, this is a very damaged person,” Stevens said. “And there’s probably something more serious going on.”

And then there's this diagnosis from veteran Republican and modern day neoconservative, Robert Kagan:

Why denigrate the parents of a soldier who died serving his country in Iraq? And why keep it going for four days? Why assail the record of a decorated general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Why make fun of the stature of a popular former mayor of New York? Surely Trump must know that at any convention, including his own, people get up and criticize the opposition party’s nominee. They get their shots in, just as your party got its shots in. And then you move on to the next phase of the campaign. You don’t take a crack at every single person who criticized you. And you especially don’t pick fights that you can’t possibly win, such as against a grieving Gold Star mother or a general. It’s simply not in your interest to do so.

When you boil it all down you're left with what appears to be a serious personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, a creepy variety of sociopathy. The NPD "force" is obviously very powerful in Donald J. to the point that, as Kagan observes, he's compelled to resort to self-destructive behaviours. 

Donald Trump is no longer just a bombastic blowhard and a compulsive liar. He's off his nut.


Owen Gray said...

I believe Kissinger referred to Nixon as a "meatball president," Mound. One hopes that Trump will only be referred to as "meatball."

The Mound of Sound said...

Let's hope, Owen, that he never sees the inside of the Oval Office.

Dana said...

If he does see the inside of it there will be a major constitutional crisis. It is highly probable the security apparatus of the USA will refuse to give him detailed briefings, the Joint Chiefs will make it clear that they will follow only lawful, sane orders and both Houses will ridicule and demean him at every opportunity. Who knows what the right wing loons at the Supreme Court will do but the sane ones over there will school him on the law at their first opportunity and at every one thereafter.

Not to mention the countries around the world that will not call to congratulate him, won't invite him to visit and won't invite him to address their assemblies should he show up anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hillary is a sociopath who has taken over $100-million in bribe money directly into her bank account. Not sure what percentage she gets from donations to the Clinton Foundation, but if a foreign power wants US legislation, a $10-million donation will get the ear of the president, if she's elected.

I'll take a blowhard narcissist over a bribe-taking one, any day.

But more importantly, if Hillary loses to Trump, the Democratic party will clean house. That will be a repudiation of corruption. If Hillary wins, the rot will only grow worse. Don't rule out an eventual neoliberal police state with machine-gun-toting thugs guarding public places from terrorists; dissidents being disappeared, never reported about in the captured news media. That's the establishment's wet dream!


-Bernie Orbust

The Mound of Sound said...

Unfortunately, Dana, the scenario you paint is the one most likely to send an extreme narcissist over the cliff. Scary stuff.

The Mound of Sound said...

Bernie, I'll take your comment as an opinion rather than a meaningful argument. I doubt you have any credible basis for branding Clinton a "sociopath." Is that something you simply pulled out of your backside?

I don't like Hillary either. That said, the next president might appoint up to four new Supreme Court justices. After the Citizens United decision, the rightwing hold on that court must be broken. For that reason alone I would support Clinton.

I believe that Trump's narcissism is extreme and much more serious a mental illness than you imagine. No one so afflicted should ever be given America's nuclear codes. Dismissing him as a mere "blowhard" makes light of a potentially devastating problem. It also undermines the weight of your opinion. Sorry.

Dana said...

Having followed Bernie's rants at other places I only have this to say: there's no point engaging him - he's as deranged about his obsession as the most demented of Trump's supporters are about theirs.

Anonymous said...

You don't think that someone who takes over $100-million in bribe money is a sociopath? That they don't have a problem with breaking the law? Someone who wages war for kickbacks from Boeing and Lockheed Martin? I would tell you to get your head out of your rump, but I would be wasting my time along with the countless others who have undoubtedly told you the same thing.

I have put a lot of thought into my position on this election. Centrist cattle, on the other hand, weren't put on this Earth to think. Their job is to munch down establishment prole feed. Get worked up into a panic when it suits their owners. What you think is thinking is simply regurgitating the cud.

If you think Hillary is against Citizens United you are an obvious fool. Hillary got all her riches from money being in politics. That's like Bill Gates being against software.

Trump is clearly a blowhard. Archie Bunker personified. Big talkers are not big doers. Only people ignorant of history would equate him with Hitler. The establishment is hysterical because he wants to end free trade. They were hoping Teabagger Ted Cruz would save them!

You're also a hypocrite, criticizing Trudeau for not living up to your standards. Hillary is a more sleazy politician than Harper. Far more biased in favor of Israel. A greater neoliberal.

You support Elizabeth May but are against progressives voting for Jill Stein? Like that makes any sense.

Your thought processes are all over the place. Have you been checked for dementia? You should.

-Bernie Orbust

The Mound of Sound said...

Look Bernie, you've worn out your welcome. Take your diatribe somewhere else. You offer nothing remotely worthwhile here.

the salamander said...

.. Trump is an interesting contrast to Stephen Harper.. very interesting..

Both manifest the overlapping DSM4 characteristics of narcissism and psychopathy
yet both presnet in completely different packages or public image..
Harper masked his syndromes via geeky egghead, smartest guy in the room, cereberal etc
Trump of course via money & entitlement, little rich guy, glamour etc

Snobs.. little boy snobs.. grown older & compulsive liars & manipulators
nobody likes either of them but are forced to go along in their orbit
both disastrous pricks, competely unhappy inside..
scary scary people

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree, Sal, - scary people. With Hillary and Trump battling it out, we're witnessing a giant, steaming pile of US politics and there's nothing pretty about it.

Toby said...

Beware of candidates who want the job.

Anonymous said...

Anyong ... Hillary's Plat Form very interesting....much like Trudeau's.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Trump and Clinton, both desperately want to be president. They will pretty well do anything to win. As a side issue, Pierre Trudeau was asked during a campaign how badly he wanted to be PM.
His answer was that we should be skeptical about anyone who fervently wants to win at all costs.

I remember during the election, Mulcair could not hide his desperation in wanting to win. I found it a complete turn off.

Both Trump and Clinton would be a danger to the US and the world. I think though that Trump poses the worst danger.

I wonder though if he did win, once he was sat down and told who was really in charge, if, because for sure he is a coward, he would just fold. He may be enough of a narcissist though where he thinks he is the one that is going to be in charge.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's all casting bones and reading entrails at this point, Pamela. I'm beginning to side with those who claim that Trump is deliberately or unconsciously sabotaging his own campaign. I really don't think he wants the job. He would be in the public eye, constantly under scrutiny. He doesn't have the qualifications or the aptitude for the job and I suspect he knows at least that much. At this point he may be preoccupied trying to find some way to simply save face.