Diagnosing Donald Trump, and His Voters

Jay Rosen, a media scholar at New York University, has been arguing for months that “many things Trump does are best explained by Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” and that journalists should start saying so. In March, the Times published a letter by the psychiatrists Robert Jay Lifton and Judith L. Herman, who stated that Trump’s “repeated failure to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and his outbursts of rage when his fantasies are contradicted” suggest that, “faced with crisis, President Trump will lack the judgment to respond rationally.”

.. . Philip Zimbardo, who is best known for his Stanford Prison Experiment, and his co-author, Rosemary Sword, propose that Trump is an “extreme present hedonist.” He may also be a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, borderline, on the bipolar spectrum, a hypomanic, suffering from delusional disorder, or cognitively impaired.

.. Lyndon Johnson was bipolar, and John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton might have been characterized as “extreme present hedonists,” narcissists, and hypomanics. Richard Nixon was, in addition to his narcissism, a sociopath who suffered from delusions, and Ronald Reagan’s noticeable cognitive decline began no later than his second term.

.. Alexander Esenin-Volpin, one of the founders of the Soviet dissident movement, receive his medical documents, dating back to his hospitalizations decades earlier. His diagnosis of mental illness was based explicitly on his expressed belief that protest could overturn the Soviet regime. Esenin-Volpin laughed with delight when he read the document. It was funny. It was also accurate: the idea that the protest of a few intellectuals could bring down the Soviet regime was insane. Esenin-Volpin, in fact, struggled with mental-health issues throughout his life. He was also a visionary.

.. at the same time, they are analyzing what we all see: the President’s persistent, blatant lies (there is some disagreement among contributors on whether he knows he is lying or is, in fact, delusional); his contradictory statements; his inability to hold a thought; his aggression; his lack of empathy. None of this is secret, special knowledge—it is all known to the people who voted for him. We might ask what’s wrong with them rather than what’s wrong with him.

.. the election reflects “a woundedness at the core of the American group Self,” with Trump offering protection from further injury and even a cure for the wound. The conversation turns, as it must, from diagnosing the President to diagnosing the people who voted for him. That has the effect of making Trump appear normal—in the sense that, psychologically, he is offering his voters what they want and need.

Is Donald Trump a Narcissist and Is He Fit for Office?

Mr. Trump is also a reality TV star, which is a high narcissism profession. In the show he played the role of the high status executive who challenges then fires people. His catch phrase, “you’re fired!” is both dominant and callous.

.. The big exception to this is Mr. Trump’s relationships with his children. These seem very strong and warm, which is not what you would expect from a narcissistic father.

.. “Show me someone without an ego, and I’ll show you a loser.” –How To Get Rich

This information is important because people who are narcissistic are typically aware of it – they will report being narcissistic and generally think that is a smart way to go through life.

.. And U.S. presidents as a group have estimated narcissism scores higher than even reality television stars.

..What I am saying is that the burden of proof should be on the people making the claim of NPD. It seems like a stretch to me, but there could be impairment that is hidden from view or is manifested primarily by the suffering experienced by others that is caused by Mr. Trump’s narcissism.This is not to say that Mr. Trump’s narcissism doesn’t appear to harm him at times. From my perspective he seems overly reactive in response to ego threats. I am not sure if he is taking advice as well as he should from others. But, on balance, his narcissism has probably been a bigger boost to Mr. Trump’s political success than a hindrance.

.. hypomanic personality, or a persistent low level of mania. Hypomanic personality is associated with high energy levels, social vitality, impulsivity, low need for sleep, and grandiose thought patterns.

.. most politicians also use an “attack dog” to say nasty things about their opponents. In the present race, for example, Senator Warren has been playing this role by attacking Mr. Trump on Twitter, for example
.. This strategy has kept Secretary Clinton from looking hostile. Mr. Trump is waging a different style of campaign where he is giving unfiltered speeches and being his own attack dog.
.. US presidents are, on average, rated as being high in narcissism, especially in the modern era when mass media and then social media became crucial for campaigns. Furthermore, the most narcissistic presidents tend to be pretty good at the job despite ethical lapses. And they are seen as highly charismatic leaders.
.. Andrew Jackson, a narcissistic early president, had the spine to take on the big banks — maybe one of the only presidents to do that successfully — but also sent Native Americans on the trail of tears. FDR was the other president willing to fight Big Banking and he also sent U.S. citizens of Japanese descent into internment camps. LBJ, one of the most narcissistic US presidents in history, got a tremendous amount of legislation passed. He was also in many ways a cruel and intimidating bully. And after reading about Mr. Trump and President Johnson, it is hard to imagine the former being more narcissistic than the latter.
.. My point here is not to say that everyone in politics is narcissistic, but that narcissism and political aspirations go together. This is partly because modern campaigns are basically celebrity marketing operations and partly because narcissistic individuals like power, status, admiration and control which is something that comes with political power.
.. narcissism works for becoming a leader. This is especially true in times of instability and crisis, when narcissistic leaders’ projected strength and confidence is even appealing.
.. In research on narcissistic CEOs, for example, you see a willingness totake big public risks. You see a similar overconfidence associated with narcissism generally. Sometimes this risk-taking pays off and sometimes it is a disaster, so you only want to risk having a narcissistic leader if you really want a change.

Hypertext extreme: full links

Every year we gather with friends and family to be entertained by huge patriotic football players and witty corporate speech. Many times the corporations personify themselves as animals. There are the burping frogsthe prancing horses, and a talking gecho, not to mention the occasional sexy woman.

Yet while, we say we care about each and every Chinese worker whose labor we consume, their image is not “humanized” in the same way. Perhaps that is because the Chinese factory worker does not have a budget to spend, or a marketing firm to represent them.

If an Apple factory worker were an animalwhat type of animal would they be and how could their speech get the same attention as the talking horses and donkeys?