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A Psychological Perspective on the President of the United States

Introduction

Donald Trump is a Russian troll in the White House; he is also the worst president in U.S. History. And, he is unbelievably dangerous to the security of our nation. He represents a clear and present danger to us all.

As a result prosecutors are beginning to close in on President Donald Trump as a threat to the democracy of the United States. While all of this seems rather bizarre and unusual for a United States President to be accused of such serious crimes against the people of this country (namely treason and a host of other criminal acts), it is what it is and now must be dealt with.

The people (through their representatives) have no other option than to impeach the President and remove him from office. Whether some of his administration underlings should also be charged with treason and sent to prison remains to be seen. Only time will tell.

In addition, some members of Congress should be looked as well as to their personal relationship to a president who has strong ties to the Kremlin, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Devin Nunes of California come to mind. Directly or indirectly they are giving aid and comfort to a known enemy of the United States. Here are the federal laws dealing with treason: “Treason is a crime under federal and some state laws. Treason is made a high crime, punishable by death, under federal law by Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” It is the latter part on giving aid and comfort that worries me the most.

This incredible strain and stain on America political democracy begs the question. Why? Why did this political nightmare ever come about? What I’m about to say is not to be construed as an apology for Trump’s behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth—far from it! But like all psychologists and sociologists will explain—all behavior has causes. It is these causes that need to be examined.

Context for a Psychological Explanation

Every human has strengths and weaknesses. This is no less true for Donald Trump than it is for anyone else. Whenever someone displays extreme lying and extremely illogical behavior (always contrary to the facts) the mental state of that individual may be called into question. This is what the American people are now slowly beginning to realize, that Donald Trump may be mentally ill, perhaps even a sociopath..

Specifically, where Donald Trump is concerned his paranoid egotistically driven personality raises questions about his mental fitness for the job of president of the United States. When combined with a history of predatory sexual behavior, vicious personal attacks on everyday citizens and racial groups, his unhealthy appetite for foreign dictators, and his uncontrollable constant need for excessive lying, lapses in memory (CRS—can’t remember what he says from one day to the next), then the question goes far beyond fitness for office. The question then becomes is he suffering from mental illness and/or dementia?

     So what all this means is that Donald Trump’s fitness and mental state needs to be addressed very soon, In a President with perhaps dementia and a psychologically damaged personality in the first place, you have a recipe for disaster of immense proportions, Besides these alarm bells going off, the real key to understanding why Donald Trump acts as he does—–is psychology. What is the psychology of Donald Trump?

Since one cannot depend on the White House Doctor to provide an explanation of the psychology of this President, then we must look to other sources.

There are many influences on a person throughout his or her life but one’s early life growing up remains to this day a very good reliable way to view one’s present behavior based on one’s early development in life. While space in this Blog does not permit one to give a thorough review of Donald Trump’s relationship with his mother, father, or siblings, there is psychological information on Donald Trump in the here and now.

In this regard a very interesting article appeared in a publication [Shrink Tank] titled as “A Psychological Analysis of Donald Trump” by Dr. Bilal Ghandour dated January 20, 2017.

The Psychology of Donald Trump

The following is the article:

“Love him or hate him, but can you feel sorry for him?

Ask anyone what they think of Donald Trump and you are almost guaranteed one of two instantaneous – almost reflexive – reactions: “He is great” (read: I admire his guts, love his strength and honesty) or “he is awful” (read: he is a disgusting, self-serving bigot and demagogue). Many a political figure has been controversial but none in recent history has polarized opinions as much as Mr. Trump.

One obvious question is to ask why he triggers such opposing emotional reactions from folks. A less obvious – but more interesting query – is to wonder: Is there any way one can take on a nuanced position and say something like, ‘This man repulses me but I also feel sorry for him.’ Is bizarre as it may initially appear, I would like to suggest it is perfectly tenable to hold such apparently contradicting positions about Mr. Trump. In order to do so, we must understand how personalities are formed and organized.

‘More specifically, we need to analyze how particular patterns of character development lead to a personality one can feel both compassion for and be deeply disturbed by.’

It all depends on which aspect of self that one chooses to focus on.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

One of the words most commonly thrown around to define Donald Trump’s personality is that he is a narcissist.

A narcissist is someone who is intensely focused on themselves – often to the point of self-adoration – and belittles others. They spend an inordinate amount of time listing their accomplishments (as proof of their greatness) and it is impossible to have a balanced conversation with them as they invariably pay cursory or no attention to what you say. On the rare occasions, they actually listen; it is because they are planning a strategy to redirect conversations back to them.

There is no doubt about it: Mr. Trump is a textbook example of a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychologists will have no trouble diagnosing him with that condition.

But saying someone has a personality disorder (narcissism or otherwise) tells us nothing about the cause for such development and the mechanism people use to maintain such traits. And this where it gets interesting.

It has been widely accepted that many psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia are conditions with a strong biological component. This means the genetic makeup of such individuals plays a critical role in the development of the disorder.

This contrasts with personality disorders, characterized by traits that have been learned.

In other words, personality disorders develop as a result of life experiences, not because of genetic vulnerability. It is of course very difficult to claim with certitude where those (negative) experiences originate from but we do know the nature of the relationship we have with important people in our lives dramatically shape our perception of the world and ourselves.

If we have felt deep pain from improper or insufficient parenting, despair from romantic breakups or friendship betrayals, bitter disappointment from various life outcomes, there is little doubt that personality development will be significantly affected. Some of us may address issues successfully, adjust well, and be psychologically healthy. Others may have more trouble handling such pains and develop, as a result, a personality that goes around difficulties rather than face them.

In other words, some personalities are structured and organized to avoid remembering – at all costs – troublesome feelings and emotional pain. If a person uses this strategy consistently and across the board, they are using a defense mechanism strategy. Let me explain further.

Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are the mind’s powerful ability to protect itself by avoiding feelings of discomfort and anxiety and negative perceptions of self. You may recognize at least one of them: repression. This defense tactic is used to banish from conscious memory something too painful to remember. We hide uncomfortable and hurtful feelings from awareness; they still exist…but we can’t ‘see’ them. Think of it as clothes and belongings (memories, experiences) accumulated over years of life in a large suitcase.

At the bottom of the suitcase lies old memories and experiences. If you keep accumulating stuff and pile them up in that suitcase, what lies at the top will begin hiding what is underneath. If you don’t shake the suitcase (i.e., discuss and address difficult memories) they can be forgotten. It is this motivation to bar from conscious awareness that is the defense mechanism.

Sigmund Freud may have had some outlandish ideas about sexuality but his genius was his ability to notice defense mechanisms. He identified many, including repression, which he considered most fundamental. There is also regression (going back to an infantile or younger stage in life to feel safer) and projection (blaming others for our own faults).

With regards to Mr. Trump, there is one defense mechanism that fits him like a glove: reaction formation.

His comments, behaviors, and reactions are remarkably consistent with folks who use this strategy to defend themselves from uncomfortable feelings. So what is reaction formation and what is The Donald trying to defend himself from?

Reaction Formation

Reaction formation is a fascinating strategy because it flies in the face of logic. It is the expression of feelings towards an event, a situation or something about ourselves that is the opposite of what we truly feel.

It is the person who condemns the drama on a reality TV shows when they secretly revel in it, it is the person who thinks drug addicts should face the harshest punishment when they are addicted themselves, it is the person vehemently defending heterosexual values because they are afraid of their own homosexuality (think Chris Cooper playing Colonel Frank Fitts in American Beauty and the many priests who used religion as a cover for sexually abusing children).

While it is hard to know for certain if one is defending a position sincerely or because of anxiety from expressing the opposite view, there is one characteristic of reaction formation that often gives it away: the excessive need to prove one’s point and the inflexibility of the position. In Mr. Trump’s case, any attack on him results in an immediate reaction from his part to remind everyone how great he is. He is quick to deny his failures, never admits wrongdoings and attacks anyone who criticizes his business record and his….hands.

Yes, his hands.

And if someone says he has small hands (as presidential candidate Marco Rubio commented and insinuating he has a small ‘something else’) then you are attacking his physical greatness or prowess. Now think about it: what political candidate, what person who runs for the highest office in the US feels the need to justify the size of his hands at the very beginning of a political debate? Donald Trump.

What person needs to exhibit his steaks, water, magazines and discuss how great they all are at a press conference following a primary win? Donald Trump. What man denies having been bankrupt four times and say ‘he just used what the law allowed him to do?”

Donald Trump.

‘His painstaking and excessive need to justify he is an amazing man leads us to wonder: does he really think he is or is he hiding deep insecurities about his competence?”

To answer this question, we get to the most interesting part of Trump’s personality. It is one thing to explain why you think you are ‘the greatest’ and it is another to lie to prove it. Faking reality, unconsciously or otherwise, is the glue of a defense mechanism. Lying is a powerful method to deny personal feelings of weakness, fraudulence or incompetence. In two separate public appearances (once following a primary victory and another at a recent debate) Trump lied.

  • Lie #1: He displayed steaks he claimed were his – as you would display a product for an infomercial – to prove his business was thriving. In reality, the steaks he displayed were not his (they belonged to another meat company – Bush Brothers) as Trump Steaks are no longer produced. And when reporters tried to verify the packaging brand Trump’s team quickly put them away.
  • Lie #2: He states never having heard anyone say anything negative about the size of his hands. Quoting him: “I never heard this one before…everyone says ‘Donald, you have beautiful hands’.” In reality, Donald’s hands have been ridiculed before. In fact, they have been ridiculed for decades. Here is the story behind lie # 2 and how his attempts to prove he has ‘beautiful hands’ lies at the heart of Mr. Trump’s personality insecurities.

In 1988, a New York-based satirical magazine began publishing a series of articles to poke fun at Mr. Trump. The authors of the articles called him the ‘short-fingered vulgarian.’ Over the course of eight years, they published a dozen articles on the short-fingered vulgarian. How do we know Trump knew of them? Over and over again, he sent them pictures of his hands as evidence they were not small. In other words, he was excessive and relentless in proving they were not short – behavior in line with reaction formation. What is remarkable is he has not stopped trying to prove his point, almost 30 years later.

The founder of the Magazine Spy, Graydon Carter, is quoted from the website vox.com, commenting on how he continues, to this day, to receive correspondence from Trump: “There is always a photo of him – generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them, he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers.”

Power and Dominance

Nothing disturbs Mr. Trump more than someone questioning his power and dominance. This is because there is a deeply hidden part of Trump that doesn’t think he is great. And if we were to imagine, just for the sake of the argument, that he agrees to therapy and receives psychological treatment then we may be able to reach into to the bottom of that suitcase. And based on the arguments set forth in this article, I argue we will find a very insecure child hiding somewhere.

“It is that Trump you can feel sorry for.”

But that part is so hidden from his own and anyone’s awareness that it is almost impossible for anyone to see. And when his comments continue to be demeaning, have a disturbing flavor of cruelty, racism, and misogyny; it is no surprise that many despise the man. After all, that is the part he has chosen to expose to the world and himself.”

Final Comments

A reasonable question arises when looking at the psychology of Donald Trump. That is, if Donald Trump is lost in a maze of defense mechanisms that have mentally crippled him for many decades, then what explains the existence of a hard core Trump supporter?

Why would any potential Trump voter not be able to recognize the obvious deficit in the moral character of Donald Trump? Even a modicum amount of research will demonstrate Donald Trump’s disqualification for public office. This would include as a minimum his degenerate misogyny, excessive lying, his evil intent to separate immigrant children from their parents, later putting immigrant children into cages, and criminal behavior; he is his alleged to have raped and beat a 13-year old prostitute in 1994 with his buddy, a New York wealthy registered sex offender named Epstein.

If this wasn’t enough to consider Trump as a wrong choice for the highest office in the land, just consider his false accusations of the Central Park Five or his failure to condemn KKK, Nazi and Alt Right rioters in the 2017 attacks on Jews and racial minorities in Charlottesville, North Carolina.

Could it be that defense mechanisms also play a serious role in why hard core Trump supporters prefer to bury their heads in the sand? What defense mechanisms are these hard core Trump supporters using? In this authors opinion I see three predominant defense mechanisms always present in the Trump supporter. They include rationalization, denial and idealization. So what are these mechanisms?

Rationalization

Rationalization occurs when a person attempts to explain or create excuses for an event or action in rational terms. In doing so, they are able to avoid accepting the true cause or reason resulting in the present situation.

Examples of rationalization include a shoplifter blaming the high price of sweets to justify their theft of a chocolate bar, when in reality they simply enjoyed the act of shoplifting. If a person fails an exam, they may excuse themselves from blame by rationalizing that they were too busy to revise during the revision period.

Denial

The self-denial of one’s feelings or previous actions is one defense mechanism to avoid damage to the ego caused by the anxiety or guilt of accepting them. A married woman might deny to herself that she hold affections for her husband’s friend, rather than accepting her true feelings. A person might also deny to their physical behavior, such as theft, preferring to think that someone forced them into committing the crime; in order to avoid dealing with the guilt should they accept their actions. Denial is an undesirable defense mechanism as it contravenes the reality principle that the id adheres to, delving into an imaginary world that is separate from our actual environment.

Idealization

Idealization involves creating an ideal impression of a person, place or object by emphasizing their positive qualities and neglecting those that are negative. Idealization adjusts the way in which we perceive the world around us and can lead us to make judgement that supports our idealized concepts. People often idealize their recollections of being on holiday or memories from childhood, seeing them as ‘happier times’, but fail to recollect arguments or stresses during those periods. We often idealize the image we hold of people we admire – relatives, partners or celebrities, making excuses for their failures and emphasizing their more admirable qualities.

When the president is eventually charged by Mueller with criminal acts and violations of the United States Constitution, it will be interesting to see how many Trump supporters finally come back to their senses and realize the painful reality they created and the shame that they had elected and supported the worst President this country has ever known. Above all, Donald Trump has dishonored this country and all it stands for by taking all of us on a 20 month political journey through Dante’s nine concentric circles of hell!

To the Trump supporters I make this prediction: Your impact in supporting Donald Trump as a president is about to come to an end following the mid-term election in November, 2018. Why? Because the vast majority of Americans already knows what it really takes to make America great!!!

 

 

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Beliefs about Human Evolution

and Conservatism as Mental Illness

 

Introduction

     The attitude of the American people never ceases to amaze me. This month I want to share with my cyberspace audience survey data from the Pew Research Center. I hope what you learn will help you to refine how you are going to vote in the national mid-term elections in November, 2014. 

Public’s Views on Human Evolution

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” The share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009, when Pew Research last asked the question.

About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”

These beliefs differ strongly by religious group. White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.

There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

These are some of the key findings from a nationwide Pew Research Center survey conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, with a representative sample of 1,983 adults, ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted on landlines and cellphones in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.0 percentage points.

Differences by Religious Group

A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%) believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that idea.

Those saying that humans have evolved over time also were asked for their views on the processes responsible for evolution. Roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today,” while about a third (32%) say that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection.”

Just as religious groups differ in their views about evolution in general, they also tend to differ in their views on the processes responsible for human evolution. For instance, while fully 78% of white mainline Protestants say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, the group is divided over whether evolution is due to natural processes or whether it was guided by a supreme being (36% each). White non-Hispanic Catholics also are divided equally on the question (33% each). The religiously unaffiliated predominantly hold the view that evolution stems from natural processes (57%), while 13% of this group says evolution was guided by a supreme being. Of the white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants who believe that humans have evolved over time, most believe that a supreme being guided evolution.

Views about Evolution by Party Affiliation

There are sizable differences among partisan groups in beliefs about evolution. Republicans are less inclined than either Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved over time. Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents (65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less than half of Republicans (43%).

The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009), while opinion among both Democrats and independents has remained about the same.

Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution. Indeed, the partisan differences remain even when taking these other characteristics into account.

Views about Evolution by Demographic Group

The 2013 Pew Research survey varied the exact wording of the question about evolution to better understand public views on the issue. A random group of respondents was asked about the evolution of “humans and other living things” while others were asked about the evolution of “animals and other living things.”1 The survey found that the wording focus on animals vs. humans made little difference in beliefs.

Beliefs about human and animal evolution tend to vary by gender, age and education. Men are somewhat more inclined than women to say that humans and animals have evolved over time. Younger adults are more likely than older generations to believe that living things have evolved over time. And those with more years of formal schooling are more likely than those with less education to say that humans and animals have evolved over time.

About the Survey

This report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, among a national sample of 1,983 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (1,017 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 966 were interviewed on a cell phone). Interviews were completed in English and Spanish by live, professionally trained interviewing staff under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

A combination of landline and cell random digit dial (RDD) samples were used to reach a representative sample of all adults in the United States who have access to either a landline or cell phone. Both samples were disproportionately stratified to increase the incidence of African-American and Hispanic respondents. Within each stratum phone numbers were drawn with equal probabilities. The landline samples were list-assisted and drawn from active blocks containing three or more residential listings, while the cell samples were not list-assisted but were drawn through a systematic sampling from dedicated wireless 100-blocks and shared service 100-blocks with no directory-listed landline numbers. Both the landline and cell RDD samples were disproportionately stratified by county based on estimated incidences of African-American and Hispanic respondents.

The survey questionnaire included a split-form design whereby an additional 2,023 adults were asked a different set of questions, including the questions on animal evolution reported above. The total number of interviews conducted was 4,006. Thus, the data collection involved two simultaneous surveys; where the same question was asked on each form, the results of the two forms can be combined to yield a representative survey of U.S. adults with the full 4,006 respondents.

Several stages of statistical adjustment or weighting are used to account for the complex nature of the sample design. The weights account for numerous factors, including (1) the different, disproportionate probabilities of selection in each stratum, (2) the overlap of the landline and cell RDD sample frames, and (3) differential non-response associated with sample demographics. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies, including disproportionate stratification of the sample.

The survey’s margin of error is the largest 95% confidence interval for any estimated proportion based on the total sample – the one around 50%. For example, the margin of error for the entire sample is +/-3.0 percentage points. This means that in 95 out of every 100 samples drawn using the same methodology, estimated proportions based on the entire sample will be no more than 3.0 percentage points away from their true values in the population. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance used in this report take into account the effect of weighting. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

  1. Most analysis in this report is based on respondents asked about human evolution (N=1,983). An additional 2,023 respondents were asked questions about animal evolution. The margin of error for those asked about animal evolution is +/- 2.9 percentage points.

 

     In 2012 an article written by Barry X. Kuhle, an assistant  professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, appeared in Psychology Today. It questioned the mental health (or preponderance of psychiatric symptoms) of conservatives and republicans. Some of this is written tongue-in-cheek, and some is dead serious.

Conservatism as a Mental Illness

Republican pols have recently exhibited 10 telltale signs of mental illness.

Published on June 12, 2012 by Professor Barry X. Kuhle, Ph.D. in Evolutionary Entertainment

     “In Creationism as a Mental Illness, Robert Rowland Smith argues that creationists exhibit several signs of mental illness including denial, psychosis, and inability to grasp irony.

The specter of mental illness does indeed loom large over creationists, but they are not alone. Signs of psychopathology can also be seen among their political bedfellows, conservative politicians, especially when you consider a wide range of illness indicators. In his award-winning 2005 book, Dr. James Whitney Hicks discusses 50 signs of mental illness including denial, delusion, hallucination, disordered thinking, anger, anti-social behavior, sexual preoccupation, grandiosity, general oddness, and paranoia. Now I’m no clinician, but in my (admittedly biased brown) eyes it seems that prominent Republicans have evidenced each of these ten telltale signs of mental illness over the past year:

What’s Your Political Persuasion?

Liberals and conservatives do see the world differently.

1) Denial: humans did not evolve;  Obama is not a native-born American Christian

2) Delusion: climate is not changing

3) Hallucination: God ordained me to be President

4) Disordered Thinking: being for small government that’s huge in the bedroom;  being anti-contraception and anti-abortion

5) Anger: Newt Gingrich’s perpetual scowl

6) Anti-social Behaviortoward women, gays, minorities, anyone without an umbilical cord or trust fund

7) Sexual Preoccupation: a fervent compulsion to control when we can mate, with whom we can mate, and precisely how we are allowed to mate (which I lampoon in Why Do Politicians Want to Police Dick and Jane’s Private Parts?)

8) Grandiosity: even Rick Santorum recognizes Gingrich’s “over the moon” grandiosity

9) General Oddness: Ron Paul

10) Paranoiapretty much all of them, all of the time

Even (the not necessarily dumb) Pope Francis appears to recognize that “it is a serious illness, this of ideological [conservative] Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

Regrettably, the Republican who least exhibits anti-science stances is the only one who (tongue-in-cheek) acknowledges his mental illness:

Until Jon Huntsman becomes the sane voice of his insane party, maybe “Republican Syndrome” should be added to the DSM-V so that crazy conservative pols can receive the mental health treatment they need. I bet “Obamacare” would even cover it.”

Post Script

With 33% of the population believing humans didn’t evolve (without a shred of evidence to support their position), it is very clear the rest of us have our work cut out for us. Perhaps the best we can all do is support mental health/psychiatric services for conservatives and Republicans. And yes, this last statement is not at all tongue-in-cheek.

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