Michael J. Salamon

Trust Trump? No!

Many well-known prestigious mental health experts and media commentators have diagnosed President Trump from a distance in the last two years. Professionals, however, are bound by ethical guidelines not to offer a diagnosis of someone without spending time with them. Nevertheless, it is possible to offer a hypothesis of the president’s mental state based upon observed behaviors and historical records. And so they have repeatedly referred to him as a malignant narcissist. He certainly seems to fit the criterion for the diagnosis. To be identified with a Narcissistic Personality disorder the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual requires that a person has one of the following five symptoms – A grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements); Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people; Requires excessive admiration; Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations; Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends; Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others; Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her and Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. Based on his behaviors, statements and his overwhelming number of tweets it can be easily argued that Trump meets, not just five but all nine of the symptoms to qualify with the diagnosis.

There is more than enough cause to believe that he may actually be a narcissist, how can anyone not believe that of Trump? Spend just two minutes and listen to him rant as he gets ready to board Marine One on the White House lawn or read his tweets, most notably his recent one, a pathological step beyond “I am a stable genius” that he has used frequently in the past to this latest mind blowing “in my great and unmatched wisdom” tweet in which he justified withdrawing troops from Syria and betraying allies the Kurds, and you see only a narcissist in the extreme. To call him a malignant narcissist however minimizes the great macabre threat that his gross abuse of power and self-aggrandizement is.

There is another personality disorder that Trump may have. Yes, individuals suffering personality disorders may have other comorbid personality disorders. The media refers to individuals who have little regard for others lives and well-being as either psychopaths or sociopaths. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual refers to people with these behaviors as antisocial.

To be diagnosed with an Antisocial Personality disorder According to the DSM-5, there are four diagnostic criterion, of which Criterion A has seven sub-features. Criteria
A is a Disregard for and violation of the rights of others since the age of 15, as indicated by just one of the following seven sub features: Failure to obey laws and norms by engaging in behavior which results in criminal arrest, or would warrant criminal arrest; Lying, deception, and manipulation, for profit or self-amusement; Impulsive behavior; Irritability and aggression, manifested as frequently assaults others, or engages in fighting; Blatantly disregards safety of self and others; A pattern of irresponsibility, and Lack of remorse for his or her actions.

The other diagnostic Criterion are: The person is at 18 years old or older, A Conduct disorder was present before age 15, and the antisocial behavior does not occur in the context of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Read the criterion carefully and it appears that we can check many of them as applying to Trump. His biographers tend to agree.

If Trump is not just a malignant narcissist but antisocial as well then the president of the United States is not just selfish, caring only about accolades, making money and ignoring basic human norms but he is also horrifyingly dangerous. Antisocial individuals are criminals. They divorce often. They are reckless and cause great harm to others often with much glee. Child abusers, fascist dictators, serial killers have all, over the years, been called antisocial.

If you believe that you can take such an individual at his word than you will be very disappointed. The Syrian Kurds now know that. Do not think that he will never betray other allies even Israel. Trump will do what individuals with personality disorders do – as long as they believe that they have something to gain they will think only of themselves, act impulsively and have no regard for who gets hurt.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."
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