My new editor has suggested I comment about our imminent election from a shrink’s point of view, so I interrupt my series of wondrous insights about work to follow her directions.
The American Psychiatric Association has determined that it is unethical and unprofessional for psychiatrists to attempt to make diagnoses without doing a face-to-face examination; consequently, I will confine my comments to what I have observed, although some of the mental mechanisms involved are hard to ignore. Psychiatrists are taught to be aware of their feelings towards their patients in order to be reasonably objective in their analyses. With that in mind, I need to confess that I am not only a wild-eyed liberal (a term most democrats are afraid to use these days), but I am convinced that Mr. Trump is a jerk of the highest order.
With these biases out of the way, I now feel I can be a bit more objective in my analysis of his behaviors, to which we have been exposed continuously throughout this ridiculously long campaign. While most of the obscenely rich avoid the limelight, the Donald appears to relish it. He has a long history of self-promotion beginning long before his foray into politics. This has prompted some to label him as the possessor of a narcissistic personality disorder.
There are other behaviors which lend support to this impression. For example:
- He states repeatedly that he is the only one capable of solving whatever problem is mentioned
- He does not admit to mistakes
- He does not apologize
- He blames others when he loses
- He denigrates others in order to magnify his own achievements and self-worth.
Others look at the business dealings where he has been accused of failing to pay those who did work for him, his escape from a failed venture with a huge profit while investors lost money, and his use of bankruptcy on more than one occasion to line his own pockets while others lost. However, to me, the most egregious of all was how he was able to extract large sums of money from those who could ill afford it with the formation of the so-called university which bears his name. Those who feel victimized don’t find legal recourse a realistic option, for few have the resources to take on Trump’s army of lawyers. Mr. Trump is not the least bit apologetic concerning any of this, nor does he demonstrate any remorse, but rather describes these strategies as evidence of his outstanding talents as an astute business man. These characteristics undoubtedly contribute to the judgement by some non-professionals that sociopathy is the hallmark of Mr. Trump’s character, but of course, the two diagnoses are not mutually exclusive.
There are also those sexist comments and allegations which do little to polish his image. Those women who have accused him of sexual assault have apparently been silenced since he threatened to turn his platoon of junkyard-dog attorneys loose on them. While professing to be champion of the people, he uses his power to intimidate people by threatening to bring suit against those who do not have the resources to fight a court battle. He has even promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton in order to “put her in jail.” So much for the peaceful transfer of power.
One should not make the mistake of thinking that Mr. Trump is stupid just because he says stupid things. I am convinced that his outrageous behavior is all part of his game plan. First of all, he needed to get attention, a process in which he was well versed, having spent much of his life working to be noticed. He was wildly successful and totally dominated the news cycles. The more outrageous he became, the more press he received, all without cost to him or his campaign. His pugnacious attitude, name-calling, ridicule, and character assassination was well received by a large segment of the population, who felt they were not well represented and had been left behind.
He validated and even encouraged the anger these people felt. He promised to wipe away all their grievances and take them back to a better time. The “never Trump” crowd called him a bully and predicted that he would eventually implode, but they underestimated the depth of that anger. His followers cheered when he promised to resume water boarding when necessary and to “bomb the hell out of ISIS.” There was the famous wall he would build and force Mexico to pay for (hopefully not by bombing the hell out of them). I also
Tyrants such as Hitler or the little dude Kim Jong-un in North Korea have long used the technique of finding a common enemy, e.g. a person or group of people on which to blame the country’s problems as a means to unify them. For Trump, it began with his rant about the undocumented, and later he would incorporate Muslims. Although very effective, such tactics promote bigotry and even persecution, which help explain his endorsement by skinheads and the like. It also provides simplistic solutions to complex problems.
As we might expect from the previous comments, Mr. Trump is not one whom one would expect to be very gracious in defeat, and he has provided himself with insurance to guard against the “agony of defeat.” Whenever he has seen himself slipping in the polls, he insists that “the system is rigged.” He declares there are thousands, if not more, fraudulent votes counted each year, just one of many untruths delivered in his rants.
He also presented the FBI director’s decision to not recommend prosecution of Hillary as further evidence of “crooked Hillary’s” influence. He vilified the FBI and labeled the entire department and its director corrupt. When FBI director James Comey recently announced the discovery of emails which might be pertinent to Hillary’s case, Trump quickly switched gears, and extoled the virtues of the FBI and its its director in glowing terms.
Comey’s announcement violated a long-standing policy of withholding any information concerning an ongoing investigation. Pundits concluded that this was a C.Y.A. on the part of Comey so that he would not be embarrassed if a prosecutable offense was found in the emails after Hillary became president. Nevertheless, the timing, with only a week to go before the election, can’t help but make one wonder if some of Trump’s ramblings have intimidated Comey. It is also true that Comey, who was appointed by President Bush, is a Republican. Maybe the Donald was right all along, and it is rigged. But not in the direction he thought it was. How is that for ending with a tad of paranoia?
Be sure to vote on Tuesday, even if you are convinced both candidates suck, and remember: if Trump wins, we may need that wall to keep Americans from migrating to Mexico.