Millions of Americans are deluded enough—for either political or religious reasons—to have decided Donald Trump is a gift from God, though a gift unhampered by ethics, logic, lawfulness, and competence. The disconcerting topic I chose for this post has been with us for some time, though persons licensed to render a diagnosis generally refrain due to rules of ethics and licensing. Recognizing the combination of narcissism and sociopathy are consistent with insights I learned in doctoral training (then later as a licensed clinical psychologist prior to retiring). Donald Trump’s behavior, however, is so starkly associated with these conditions that even lay observers can see him clearly in numerous Google descriptions.
There are a number of publications by qualified mental health professionals that lay out the pathology behind Trump’s bizarre behavior: incessant lying, mean-spiritedness, vengeance, blaming, reckless handling of crucial information, irresponsibility, abusive definition (and demands) of personal loyalty, and cowardly “punching down.” A longer discussion of Trump’s behavior and its underlying psychopathy was published in The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, edited 2017 by Bandy X. Lee, MD, MDiv, Organizer of the Yale “Duty to Warn” Conference.
While his devotees will disagree, Trump’s conduct concerning rule of law, lack of a sense of justice, and bullying other officials constitute severe damage to interpersonal functioning and even American constitutional government. I recommend reading the various depictions of narcissistic sociopathy. Be prepared for parallel terms such as “malignant narcissist with sociopathic tendencies,” one of those used in The Dangerous Case . . .
Just a few excerpted sentences from several of the co-authors: “Delusional levels of grandiosity, impulsivity, and the compulsions of mental impairment, when combined with an authoritarian cult of personality and contempt for the rule of law, are a toxic mix.” “[We are required] to recognize the urgency of the situation in which the most powerful man in the world is also the bearer of profound instability and untruth.” “Power not only corrupts but also magnifies existing psychopathologies, even as it creates new ones. Fostered by the flattery of underlings and the chants of crowds, a political leader’s grandiosity may morph into grotesque delusions of grandeur.” “Sociopathic traits may be amplified as the leader discovers that he can violate the norms of civil society and even commit crimes with impunity.” “His presidency is a grave risk to our country.”
The authors explain their reasons for deviating from Section 7.3, page 6, of the 2013 American Psychiatric Association code of ethics, citing and defending “a duty to warn.” The relevant APA rule states: “It is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” Although the foregoing code applies only to psychiatrists, ethics of clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and analogous professions are similar.
Recently, Donald Trump decided to claim he is a wartime president, though it’s unclear whose side he’s own. At times, it seems that he and the federal stockpiles are at war against states. He enigmatically claims that crucial Covid-19 equipment is “ours” (federal vs states), that anti-virus strategy is best pursued in fifty parts instead of one. His political favoritism repeats itself, appalling under the current emergency conditions. Others who dare must continually push him away from his short term horizon. Further, woe to the subordinate or associate who forgets to render sufficient sycophantic pandering or, far worse, disagrees. Not new, of course, since we’ve watched this man-child for a long time, but now national health is on the line and prospects for economic recovery as well. Behavior not to his liking might engender a rebuke, a sharp criticism, or firing.
That’s enough for this post. It’s time to relax; I must get back to 1984.
Stay safe. Explore new ways to redefine togetherness.