Disturbing Questions Raised By Woodward’s Book. Leading Psychologists May Have Answers

Donald Trump

Revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book raise disturbing questions regarding Trump, his state of mind, and the state of his administration.

Hellfire has consumed Washington DC in the wake of the release of excerpts from Bob Woodward’s book on Tuesday, with questions regarding Trump’s competency to serve as president being raised.

CNN reported that “Woodward’s revelations raise disturbing questions about Trump.”

The revelations, in the veteran reporter’s new book, are so stark and shocking because they flesh out a narrative that the President’s critics have long advanced — that he is simply not fit, by intellect, temperament and knowledge, to be the most powerful man in the world.

The Washington Post reported that: “Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency.”

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

An article titled: “Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!“ published by Vanity Fair pre-election might offer some answers:

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Calling Trump “very easy to diagnose,” psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan told Vanity Fair that “In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He’ll do anything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. ‘You’re fired!’ would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants.”

Clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis elaborated, pointing to Trump’s bullying nature as being consistent with the narcissistic profile. Speaking of Trump’s public taunting of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for being captured in Vietnam, Michaelis told Vanity Fair that:

In the field we use clusters of personality disorders. Narcissism is in cluster B, which means it has similarities with histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. There are similarities between them. Regardless of how you feel about John McCain, the man served—and suffered. Narcissism is an extreme defense against one’s own feelings of worthlessness. To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it’s antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That’s what he’s doing.

Then there is the fact that Trump presents himself as a savior to the economy despite the bankruptcies of four of his companies. Referring to the fact that Trump was not a wholly self-made man, Michaelis notes that: “This man has been given more than anyone could ever hope for, yet he’s failed miserably time and time again.”

Licensed clinical social worker Wendy Terrie Behary, the author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, told Vanity Fair that:

Narcissists are not necessarily liars, but they are notoriously uncomfortable with the truth. The truth means the potential to feel ashamed. If all they have to show the world as a source of feeling acceptable is their success and performance, be it in business or sports or celebrity, then the risk of people seeing them fail or squander their success is so difficult to their self-esteem that they feel ashamed. We call it the narcissistic injury. They’re uncomfortable with their own limitations. It’s not that they’re cut out to lie, it’s just that they can’t handle what’s real.

Asked what they would “work on” were Trump their patient, several of the therapists laughed.

“I’d be shocked if he walked in my door,” said Behary. “Most narcissists don’t seek treatment unless there’s someone threatening to take something away from them. There’d have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in.” Simon concurred but added, “There is help available, but it doesn’t look like the help people are used to. It’s not insight-oriented psychotherapy, because narcissists already have insight. They’re aware; the problem is, they don’t care. They know how you’d like them to act; the problem is, they’ve got a different set of rules. The kind of approach that can have some impact is confrontational. It confronts distorted thinking and behavior patterns in the here-and-now moment when the narcissists are doing their thing in the session. It’s confronted on the spot; you invite them to do something different, then you reinforce them for doing so.”

However, as Vanity Fair concluded in their article, there may be an even greater concern. As Mr. Gardner told the publication:

For me, the compelling question is the psychological state of his supporters. They are unable or unwilling to make a connection between the challenges faced by any president and the knowledge and behavior of Donald Trump. In a democracy, that is disastrous.

In light of the recent revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book, it appears that day has come – and the results are indeed disastrous.

Samuel Warde
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