“Readers’ World” – Why Donald Trump fascinates and insupports us

Dsince Donald Trump launched himself in the American presidential race, five years ago, and to this day, we are very indignant and in the misunderstanding each time we witness new outrageous words from him, new lies, new decisions and new blunders that would make people smile if they did not often have disastrous consequences. However, nothing that he has done or said in the last few years to date is really surprising, and for one reason: his personality.

Even if it is not fixed and evolves, the personality is known to be stable over time. It is made up of a set of traits that can explain our way of dealing with our emotions, our way of conducting our social relationships and our way of thinking. One can be extrovert, sociable and pleasant, or on the contrary introvert, unpleasant and lonely. These traits define who we are and have a major impact on our life. And one thing is certain, Donald Trump has not changed, he has always remained true to himself.

From the start of his presidential term, the question of his sanity and his ability to govern was raised. But there seems to have been a confusion among many between two concepts: that of mental illness and that of personality disorder. To be clear, Donald Trump is not “crazy”, at least in the clinical sense of the term, that is to say that he does not suffer a priori from psychotic-type symptoms, such as for example a disconnection with the reality that would manifest itself in delusional thoughts or hallucinations. Even if many of Donald Trump’s ideas are a priori irrational in nature, he is a very pragmatic person and he has shown on numerous occasions that he knows how to be very skilled in manipulating reality for his own benefit.

There are also personality disorders. Among the most well-known disorders, we can mention the antisocial, psychopathic or even narcissistic personality. Even though psychologists and psychiatrists never make a diagnosis on a person they have not met, many scholars have looked at Donald Trump’s case and deduced that he had a narcissistic personality, probably one. a particular form called “evil narcissism”. According to John Gardner, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, this disorder is still debated, but it would have three dimensions: narcissism, paranoia and antisocial behavior.

It is known that certain personality types are found more frequently in certain professions than in others. We thus find many narcissistic and antisocial personalities in the world of politics, business or finance, for example. History is also marked by a whole series of dictators and despots who have often shown themselves to be immoral and even cruel in the exercise of power.

Canadian psychologist Robert Hare talks about “White collar psychopaths” to refer to those psychopaths who seek power and who occupy important positions in society. Their personality is characterized by an oversized ego, emotional coldness, a tendency to seduction, a need for action and an absence of fear which often makes them take disproportionate risks. These people are usually desperate to achieve their goal, they have superficial human relationships, a lack of empathy for others and they can infringe on the rights of others without feeling the slightest guilt. So everything happens as if they had no moral conscience.

This type of personality has notably been brought to the screen in films like American Psycho with Christian Bale, The wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo di Caprio or the series House of Cards where Kevin Spacey plays the role of President Frank Underwood. Psychologist Kevin Dutton, meanwhile, asked biographers of famous political figures to complete a personality test to establish a theoretical score of psychopathy for each of them. And he observed that Donald Trump had some of the highest scores, prominently among many dictators.

Some specialists sometimes speak of “Black triad” to qualify those personalities who have an anti-social character. The narcissist is intolerant of criticism and can be condescending or even virulent when pointed out to him. We can observe this behavior in Donald Trump, when he is faced with questions from journalists for example.

The Machiavellian only cares about his own interests, he does not hesitate to deceive and lie, he does not encumber himself with the law and morals and he has a penchant for fraud, especially in the field of financial crime . Here too, we know that Trump has often come close to illegality at the political and financial level, and he has been accused of numerous fraudulent behavior, in particular at the tax level. This could also explain why he proclaimed himself the winner of this election even though the counting of the votes was not finished, to then demand a recount of the votes while suggesting that there would have been fraud …

Rather, the psychopathic trait refers to impulsive behaviors, low awareness of the consequences of one’s actions and aggression. In his remarks, especially in his meetings, Donald Trump has often been insulting, contemptuous and aggressive towards his opponents and those who do not support him. He reacts quickly when he is upset, he is a sore loser and very often makes decisions on impulses, without seeming to care about their consequences. The fact that he tweeted several dozen times a day and announced important decisions or fired members of his team via Twitter throughout his tenure could also be a sign of this psychopathic dimension.

Lying also seems to be a hallmark of his personality. In his recently published book, his own niece, Mary Trump, who is a psychologist, does not hesitate to call him a pathological liar. Journalists have estimated that since his election he had been responsible for the dissemination of more than 20,000 lies, fake news, errors or approximations. Moreover, Donald Trump always talks about himself, his actions and his ideas using superlatives, even when he misses the point. To listen to him, he would have been the best president the United States has ever known. He seems to ignore what humility is and he is obsessed with his image.

In addition, it works permanently with balance of power and it values ​​authoritarian people. This could explain why he created a climate of insecurity in the White House and that he admires autocratic leaders like Vladimir Poutine, dictators like Kim Jong Un and that he counts the Brazilian president among his “friends”. Jair Bolsonaro.

From his beginnings in real estate until his presidential election, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with sulphurous characters like Roy Cohn, Roger Stone or Steve Bannon, which again says a lot about how he works. Testimonies from former collaborators, relatives or mental health specialists, such as psychiatrist Justin Frank, also describe him as an immature person, with a chaotic and binary mind, unable to understand complex ideas. He wouldn’t be able to focus his attention for more than a few minutes, which is why he does not read the press or the reports given to him daily. He spends several hours a day in front of the television, focusing on the shows that highlight him, especially on the Fox News channel.

It also seems that his personality is marked by paranoid traits. He trusts very few people and even less institutions. During his tenure, he constantly attacked the media, accusing them of “Fake news” as soon as they criticized him. According to him, “fake news” is not false information, it is information that is unfavorable to him. And today, he is skeptical about the current electoral process. This proves how problematic his relationship to truth is.

Conversely, he praises those who supported him, including groups like the Proud Boys and the conspiratorial group QAnon, and he has always refused to condemn white supremacists because he knew they were voting for him. Finally, he has hardly ever shown questioning, he has always cultivated bad faith and he has often accused others of his own mistakes, as demonstrated by his management of the Covid-19 crisis.

It would be easy to call him an idiot anyway, but that would be a mistake. You don’t become President of the United States by being stupid. He would have been particularly gifted, for example, at perceiving the weaknesses of others and deriving personal benefit from them. This may partly explain his successes in business and politics, circles known to be particularly harsh.

Kevin Dutton has also shown that having psychopathic traits could be an advantage in politics. For example, the lack of empathy that leads to pick on others without feeling remorse. This authoritarian dimension which pleases and reassures a large part of the voters. Or the absence of fear and stress, hyper-focus on one’s goal and being ready to do anything to achieve it, such as recounting the votes and going to the Supreme Court to try to win a very close election.

If some have perceived in him a lack of intelligence, it would in reality be rather a lack of competence and political experience, general culture and capacity for reflection. This was seen throughout his mandate in particular by inconsistent decisions and the choice of incompetent people in key positions in his administration.

Finally, he shocked many by posing from the start as an opponent of the press, science, education and the environment. He has repeatedly stigmatized Muslims, immigrants of Latin origin, the Black Live Matter movement or the feminist movement. He is also a climate skeptic and has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement. He shattered the Iran nuclear deal and had states withdrawn from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO ), international institutions considered by many to be essential for preserving peace, culture and even health at the global level.

If many of us are fed up with Donald Trump, then it would seem good because of his personality and his heavy-handed effects. In this sense, we can only agree with the historian Nicole Bacharan, specialist of the United States, when she qualifies this personality of“Appalling”. We can only join her when she explains that this feeling goes beyond political issues and goes well beyond this opposition between Democrats and Republicans. A feeling that arises at a much deeper level, that of the moral values ​​which represent the foundation of our democracy and of living together.

David Bertrand, Brussels

The world


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