The Republican party wavers on one of the greatest moral questions it has ever faced, whether to try to stop the fascism rising in its party in the form of presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Meanwhile, a group of American experts who usually stay well out of politics, has weighed in with a warning for the country. Vanity Fair recently polled psychologists for their expert opinions on whether they could diagnose Trump as psychologically … off. Publicizing their opinions is extraordinary, since the American Psychiatric Association says it is unethical for psychologists to comment on public figures, and on individuals they have not personally examined. It underscores their concern for the public good.
Psychologists Diagnose Trump
Vanity Fair quotes clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis’s diagnosis: “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder.” Another clinical psychologist, George Simon told Vanity Fair,
“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics, … Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”
Narcissistic personality disorder can be described simply as a pathological need to puff oneself up, and to put others down. Mayo Clinic publicizes an in-depth description of the traits of someone with narcissistic personality disorder.
“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.”
There are few people in the public eye who more perfectly fit that description than Donald Trump. His entire life has been about a sense of entitlement over his use of the fortune loaned to him by his father. His career has been about plastering his name across ostentatious and gaudy buildings and products that he, ultimately, had little to do with building.
Trump’s Twitter feed, his debate performances, his manipulation of the media, are all a study in monopolizing conversation. He has demanded special treatment in the Republican primary debates, seeking to change the rules to suit him. He steamrolls debate whenever he’s criticized, angrily shouting down any accusation, even when the charge is totally true and his rebuttal is nonsensical.
Trump has defended criticism of his business record by hawking products, such as Trump steaks, that were failures, and which have not been commercially available for years. He has belittled his opponents viciously, if insubstantially, calling Jeb Bush “low energy” and Marco Rubio “little Marco,” (literally belittling the Senator from Florida).
Trump owns gold-plated vehicles and penthouses. He bought one of the world’s largest yachts when he was in extreme debt, and ultimately sold it to a Saudi prince. He is in a league of his own for needing to have the “best” things.
Just how incredibly dangerous Trump’s personality is if he were to get into the White House became scarily clear on NBC’s Morning Joe recently when host Mika Brzezinski asked Trump about his foreign policy team,
“Who are you consulting with consistently so that you’re ready on day one?”
“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things. … My primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff.”
It should go without saying that this response is absolute insanity. The tautology of his implication that he can learn by studying what he has said shows that he does not learn, and doesn’t care. He doesn’t need anyone but himself, and he trusts himself to a disturbing, anti-social degree.
Grasping foreign policy well enough to be a decent president of the United States is one of the most complex things a human being could possibly be asked to understand. No individual is intelligent enough to accomplish it on their own. The expertise and well-formed worldview of advisers is crucial, as any decent business executive who has avoided more bankruptcies than he has caused, would know. The ability to pick quality advisers is a key trait in a successful executive. But Trump doesn’t need advisers because Trump has Trump.
The lack of seriousness inherent in that statement is extremely alarming. Trump could walk into a G20 meeting, a mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a confrontation between Russia and Baltic NATO allies, a pan-Asian trade conference, and have no clue about any of the relevant actors, but decide that whatever his “good brain” and his “good instinct” tells him is the right thing to do. A leitmotif of the Trump campaign is that America gets screwed over on the world stage. The people supporting him because they’re worried about that ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Just ask the psychologists.
Watch Donald Trump tell Mika Brzezinski who his adviser is: