A Psychological Breakdown of President Trump
by Mytreyi Sureshkumar ('21) and Anvi Joshi ('21)
This article was written in February of 2019, 10 months before the first impeachment of President Trump. As Congress pushes forward with second round impeachment and unseating legislation (or the invocation of the 25th amendment), the Viking Vibe Staff finds this to be an insightful article of the perspective.
Donald Trump, the 45th President, has been a very different experience for the United States. The first of his kind to refuse social conventions, the president has created controversy over his varying opinions, his transparency, and, of course, his Twitter account. Another first for Americans are the multiple allegations of Trump’s declining mental health.
Of the many mental disorders that populate the world, one is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). In a millenial age, where selfies and social media reign supreme, it is easy to see the word “narcissistic” tossed around, but in between the flippant joking, there are at least a few true narcissists within the population. These people tend to exhibit symptoms of arrogance and a need of constant attention and admiration. Many times, narcissists also belittle others and disregard those around them to achieve their own goals, and are known to have an inflated sense of self-worth according to Psychology Today.
According to another article, chaos and disorderliness both can come as a side effect of extreme narcissism. These people who always seem to be in a constant state of being late are subconsciously driven to create chaos in order to forget about their shame and insecurity. By creating disorder in not only their own lives, but all those around them, these people feel more in control of their life, and increase their outward self-importance.
School psychologist Dr. Rebecca Hye said, “A lot of mental health professionals, who I agree with, feel that Trump is a case of malignant narcissism. That can become a very dangerous thing because since he displays such a fragile ego he is not able to learn from his mistakes or take correction. He operates from a place of personal vengeance...His narcissism is very extreme and diagnosable if he were to be evaluated by a mental health professional.”
Prior to Trump’s run for president, Joseph Burgo, licensed psychologist, released his book, The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age. In the book, he addressed different types of narcissists, one of which being the self-righteous narcissist, something he claims Donald Trump shows signs of.
Since entering the White House, the president has made plenty of false claims in his interviews, press conferences, rallies, and Tweets. In today’s day and age, where everyone has a smartphone, it is very easy to google what someone says and prove that they are wrong. The Washington Post has been fact-checking everything Trump has said since the first day of his presidency, and as of January 2019, he has made over 8,158 untrue or misleading statements. According to Politifact, Trump has made 221 completely false claims in his 2 years in office, whereas former President Obama only made 71 false claims throughout his 8 years as president.
Although the amount of lies attributed to Trump seems like a very large number, the truth is that websites such as Politifact and Fact Check have improved their technology in recent years. So while Trump might be lying a similar amount as a past president, technology allows the people to hear more about his lies with just their fingertips.
Even so, Trump continues to lie, and many note that it almost seems as if he can’t stop himself from doing so.
The reason behind Trump’s inability to speak the truth may be because he is a pathological liar. The symptoms include loving attention, having the last word, not fearing consequences, and being subtly manipulative.
According to an article on the Independent, Bernie Sanders in an interview to sum up the first twelve months of Trump’s presidency, the former senator commented that Trump was a “pathological liar”.
His arguably blatant disregard for the truth causes some people to worry for the future of the country. Some have even begun to turn to a even more dangerous explanation; delusional disorder. Delusional disorder is when someone is unable to change their opinions, even when they’re false and it is proven to them multiple times.
Once again Dr. Hye mentioned Trump’s fragile ego being the reason for his actions. She said, “His lying speaks to his fragile ego. That’s where a lot of his dysfunction falls. We all have egos, and most of us do [what we can] to protect them, but when you have such a fragile ego that you can’t stand any type of attack on it, and you lie at all costs...that may be due to suffering from delusional disorder which is a diagnosable mental health issue.”
Trump’s behavior may resemble that of a narcissist and pathological liar, but does it extend to being labeled as a sociopath? The word sociopath is the layman’s way to refer to Antisocial Personality Disorder. Although it is usually associated with serial killers, not all sociopaths are murderers, and not all murderers are sociopaths. Actually, sociopaths are people who have a habit of disregarding or infringing on another’s personal rights or feelings.
Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, ghostwriter and co-author came out two years ago to state, “that if he were writing The Art of the Deal today, it would be a very different book with a very different title: The Sociopath” according to an article on The Atlantic.
Trump has been said to allegedly manipulate and harm those around him for his own personal gain, but it is likely that that behavior falls underneath his supposed Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and is not as serious as Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Many would remember that in January of 2018, Ronnie Jackson, Trump’s physician at the time, gave the president a flattering health report. This report included comments such as "I told the President that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years he might live to be 200 years old."
Jackson’s credibility had been lost after he was chosen by Trump to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Allegations of Jackson drinking on the job and loosely handling prescription medication arose, which caused him to not only withdraw his nomination, but to also lose his job as Trump’s personal doctor as reported by Politico. Although Jackson denied those claims and called them “completely false and fabricated”, some wondered how Jackson was picked to lead the Veterans Affairs in the first place.
Jackson’s glaring praise in the earlier mentioned report was meant to cease further questioning of Trump’s health and whether he was fit to serve, but did not apply to his mental well-being. Jackson told the press that the president himself wished to take the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. He scored a thirty out of thirty, however the test is not meant to detect behavioral or personality disorders. The test takes about ten minutes to administer, and includes questions like naming three animals, copying the drawing of a cube, and reading a list of numbers. Its purpose is to see if the subject showed signs of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Sophomore Rilyn Szabo said “I do not think that this was a good test, because it is questioning his mental ability, not his thought process. It is obvious that President Trump can form coherent thoughts, but the thought process he exhibits [especially] before he tweets may not be the best.”
Szabo explained that even if he did not exhibit the signs for cognitive impairment, it does not mean he is mentally stable, as there are thousands of disorders that are equally as dangerous, and only half as simple.
Although Trump seems to have no problems with cognitive functioning, psychologists, the media, and even the public will continue to comment on his mental health. If Trump is diagnosed with Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder in the future, this does not mean he will immediately be impeached. Unless the Cabinet or Congress believe the president is unfit physically or mentally to serve, they will not take the necessary actions to forcibly remove him from office.
Unlike impeachment, where only a majority in the House of Representatives is needed, declaring the President mentally unfit will need two-thirds of the House and Senate to invoke the 25th Amendment. On top of these high odds, multiple psychologists would need to evaluate the president and give him a diagnosis that is untainted by their own political bias.
Currently the Republican Party backs Trump, so it doesn’t seem as if his mental state is enough to make them consider removing him from office since they hold the majority in the Senate. However, the House of Representatives is a completely different story. With Democrats in power, they can begin investigations. Even so, his mental state, his outrageous tweets, and his views cause Americans to feel the brunt of the damage their president wreaks upon the world, in their homes, and in their heads.