Since President Donald J. Trump first appeared on the Manhattan skyline like an orange-skinned Godzilla groping a woman’s crotch with one sausage-fingered hand and the soaring spiral of his failed dream of real-estate moguldom with the other (just like his Daddy but bigger, huge) those who believe Trump is bat-shit crazy have become legion.
The most erudite and detailed rumination on the subject is an article entitled “A Neuroscientist explains: Trump has a mental disorder that makes him a dangerous world leader” http://bit.ly/2kswc0j
It begins by mentioning “Vanity Fair’s” Henry Alford’s resonate query “What exactly is wrong with this strange individual” and states “While there is no official clinical diagnosis of psychopathy, the textbook traits of it and related to Anti-social Personality disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Sociopathy, are somewhat easy to spot once you know the signs.
“The failure for there to be an official way to diagnose these disorders is due more to the fact that individuals who have these traits are adept at masking them, or giving answers to questions that psychologist ‘want’ to hear.”
Graydon Carter is one of the longer standing questioners of Trump’s mental state going back to those halcyon days when he was a wide-eyed Canadian refugee in New York and the fledgling editor of Spy Magazine.
In a recent editorial Carter described how, in 1993, he took Trump, “the tabloid oddity of the moment,” as his guest to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
Since an acquaintance, Mike Kelly, who was then a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, took the first “oddity guest” in 1987 – Fawn Hall, Oliver North’s erstwhile secretary – it had become “a thing” to do, find that “oddity” and take them to that dinner.
Unlike the circus geek, Ms. Hill and Mr. Trump did not know they were the sideshow’s main attractions, which, of course, made the scenarios even funnier. Even then the “Correspondent’s Dinner” was becoming decadent.
In his editorial entitled “The Ugly American” Carter gave a succinct and disturbing portrait of what having a meal with, by then, the forerunner for the Republican Presidential nomination, was like.
He recounts being invited to dine with the Donald at his gauche Palm Springs retreat, the private, garish, outrageously expensive “golf and country club,” Mar-a-Lago.
“Dinner with Trump is generally a one-sided affair. He talks so much and with so much velocity that it can make your hair flutter… Whatever wife he has at the time tends to say nothing.”
Carter was forewarned by a Trump insider: “Family dinners at the Trumps are different. As a rule they are over in 45 minutes?”
“Because that’s how long it takes Donald to eat.”
“Mental illness touches everyone. Join the conversation”
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Writing in “Vanity Fair’s” online blog spot “Hive”, Keith Olbermann, a long-time sports broadcaster and lately, pop culture pontificator, set out to prove that Trump was insane in a piece entitled “Could Donald Trump Pass a Sanity Test?”
In his eagerness, or ambivalence, Olbermann made a significant mistake. He put forth something called the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) as a test for insanity… which it most definitely is not.
Rather it is a controversial test for psychopathy, which is, by its very nature, the antithesis of insanity, albeit a far more dangerous condition.
Psychopathy could be described as a state of “hyper-sanity.
Marshall McLuhan called cliches social probes. “Crazy like a fox” would be an appropriate cliche the psychopath .
The PCL-R test was developed by a Canadian psychologist, Dr. Robert Hare, in the early 1980s and has subsequently become the standard instrument for researchers and clinicians in penal institutions in industrialized countries around the world as well as large corporations, government organizations and academic institutions who can afford to believe there is benefit in attempting to identify the psychopaths in their midst. (The test is a copyrighted package only obtainable by accredited personnel and it ain’t cheap)
What Dr. Hare has shown definitively, whether you believe psychopathy is a real condition or a convenient but compelling fiction, is that the majority of psychopaths are not criminals, rather far more often dangerous and destructive captains of industry, denizens of Wall Street, steel and shipping magnates, high-achievers at work in all sectors of society who share, in varying degrees, a panoply of extreme characteristics.
One thing that Olbermann is right about: Dr. Hare’s list of symptom and behavorial clusters unique to the psychopath puts President Donald J. Trump right up there in the Pantheon of Dangerous Psychopaths, and therefore by my reckoning, the first one in history to be President of the United States.
Something Dr. Hare brought to the fore is the fact that psychopaths are like chameleons and often difficult to spot and identify.
The PCL-R test contains two parts: a semi-structured interview protocol and a thorough review of the subject’s biography and any other information accessible to the clinician that he or she deems relevant.
During an interview (a technique characterized by sequential questioning of the subject) the clinician “scores” 20 items that measure different elements of the psychopathic character in an ordered conjugation.
These items cover the nature of the individual’s interpersonal relationships, capacity for emotional involvement, responses to other people and situations, any evidence of social deviance and details to do with lifestyles.
The list of twenty “traits” include superficial charm near charisma, a significant capacity for glibness, grandiose self-estimation, insatiable need for stimulation, pathological lying, cunning and commitment to and acumen for manipulation, lack of remorse or guilt, shallow affect, callousness and lack of empathy, parasitic lifestyle, poor behavioral controls, sexual promiscuity, early behavioral problems, lack of realistic long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, failure to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, many short term marital relationships, juvenile delinquency, and so on.
One behavioural description I particularly like is “criminal versatility”. (Given what I know of Trump’s biography his life has been a virtuosity of criminal or near-criminal versatility.)
Full-blown psychopaths score between 20 – 30 on this section of the PCL-R. A score of 5 or less rules out the diagnosis. Non-psychopathic criminals tend to score in the high teens and low 20s.
From what I know of psychopaths, and I know (and have written about) more than the average person, this test, if properly administered by a skilled clinician, and the President somehow answered all the questions honestly, (something most people doubt he could or would do) Trump would easily score over 30 points.