Sunday, January 24, 2021

Questioning Trump’s mentality

To say President Donald Trump seems on edge would be putting things mildly. Since his win in the GOP, Trump’s mental health has been sized up far and wide. The unifying theme in most of these armchair diagnoses is the psychological trait of narcissism.

From Trump’s inflating inauguration crowd sizes to combatting media coverage with ill-advised tweets, Trump has held no punches against anyone defaming him. This leads many to suspect that he may meet the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. Psychiatrists are prohibited by the “Goldwater Rule” from diagnosing a public figure without a personal assessment, but several articles evaluating the president’s mental health have been published this year. The only way to undoubtedly know if Trump has narcissistic personality disorder would be to have him diagnosed by a clinician. But by examining the conditions of NPD, we as citizens may have a better idea of what to expect.

The latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders list the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder as “having a grandiose sense of self-importance,” “lack of empathy” as well as “requiring excessive admiration.”

Conversations over suspicions of Trump’s mental well-being have been occurring more frequently since he has settled into the Oval Office. Minnesota Senator Al Franken appeared in HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” early February to express “great concern about the president’s temperament.” In January, a petition was started titled “Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill and Must Be Removed.” There has already been over 29,000 supporters. Even last year, fellow Republican candidate Jeb Bush said “I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy.”

Wendy Behary, author of “Disarming the Narcissist” and founder of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey, was interviewed about Trump’s fixations with himself for New York Magazine.

“He [Trump] consciously overrides the truth because the truth would be fraught with shame,” Behary said referencing Trump’s magnified crowd size. “Clinical experts call this an overcompensation or a distortion to maintain his extraordinariness.”

Watchers of Trump’s campaign are eerily familiar with these extraordinary promises. First, there were promises made to students of Trump University.

There was a belief that Obamacare would be repealed and replaced with his own healthcare plan that will cover more Americans than the Affordable Care Act and “will cost much less,” according to Trump. He also said that a wall securing American citizens and decreasing immigration from Mexico will be “paid for by Mexico.”

In the five weeks of Trump’s presidency, he has continued a pattern he started on the campaign trail of making large promises without a plan, prioritizing his reputation above all and behaving without empathy. Trump has prioritized golf over news briefings and chosen brash military actions over calculated decisions. With a president as unpredictable as Trump, will we, as Americans, ever truly know what the next day brings?

Email at Taylor Richardson at

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