Newsweek International - - DANGER - BY GAIL SHEEHY

The fun­da­men­tal bedrock of hu­man de­vel­op­ment is the for­ma­tion of a ca­pac­ity to trust, ab­sorbed by chil­dren be­tween birth and 18 months. Don­ald Trump has boasted of his total lack of trust: “Peo­ple are too trust­ing. I’m a very un­trust­ing guy.” “Hire the best peo­ple and don’t trust them.” “The world is a vi­cious and bru­tal place. Even your friends are out to get you. They want your job, your money, your wife.”

His bi­og­ra­phers have recorded his world­view as sat­u­rated with a sense of danger and his need to project total tough­ness. As we know, his fa­ther trained him to be a “killer,” the only al­ter­na­tive to be­ing a “loser.” Trump has never for­got­ten the pri­mary les­son he learned from his fa­ther and at the mil­i­tary school to which he was sent to be tough­ened up fur­ther. In Trump’s words, “Man is the most vi­cious of all an­i­mals, and life is a se­ries of bat­tles end­ing in vic­tory or de­feat.”

As pres­i­dent, Trump is sys­tem­at­i­cally shred­ding trust in the in­sti­tu­tions he now com­mands. In the nearly two years that Trump has been in our face al­most daily, he has sown mis­trust in all his Repub­li­can ri­vals, alien­ated much of the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can bloc he needs in the House for leg­isla­tive success, ig­nored con­gres­sional Democrats and vi­ciously in­sulted Demo­cratic lead­ers, call­ing them liars, clowns, stupid and in­com­pe­tent, and con­demn­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as “sick” and Hil­lary Clin­ton as “the devil.” Hav­ing dis­cred­ited the en­tire 17-agency in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity as act­ing like Nazis, he also dis­missed the ju­di­ciary be­cause of one judge’s His­panic background and an­other’s op­po­si­tion to his travel [née Mus­lim] ban. Even

“One def­i­ni­tion of para­noia is ex­ces­sive or ir­ra­tional sus­pi­cious­ness. By his own words, Trump op­er­ates on the as­sump­tion that every­one is out to get him.”

his Supreme Court jus­tice, Neil Gor­such, said it was “dis­heart­en­ing” and “de­mor­al­iz­ing” to hear Trump dis­par­age the ju­di­ciary. Not con­tent to smear the me­dia on a daily ba­sis, Trump bor­rowed a phrase used by Lenin and Stalin to brand the Amer­i­can me­dia as an “en­emy of the peo­ple.”

The non­med­i­cal def­i­ni­tion of para­noia is the ten­dency to­ward ex­ces­sive or ir­ra­tional sus­pi­cious­ness and dis­trust­ful­ness of oth­ers. By his own words, Trump op­er­ates on the as­sump­tion that every­one is out to get him.

We hear re­peat­edly that Trump as a man­ager likes chaos. I asked a deputy White House coun­sel un­der Obama, a dec­o­rated for­mer of­fi­cer in Iraq and for­mer White House coun­sel to Obama, how such a man­age­ment style im­pacts trust. “Trump ex­plic­itly or im­plic­itly man­ages the sit­u­a­tion so it’s never pos­si­ble for his ad­vis­ers to know where they stand,” he said. “It’s the op­po­site of what you want in a high-func­tion­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

To the dis­may of even con­ser­va­tive ob­servers, Trump ap­pears to­tally in­dif­fer­ent to the truth. Time gave Trump an op­por­tu­nity to clar­ify his re­fusal to cor­rect his long string of false­hoods. What the in­ter­view pro­duced in­stead was an as­ton­ish­ing rev­e­la­tion of his think­ing: He states what he wants to be true. If his state­ment is proved false, he is un­fazed and con­fi­dently pre­dicts that the facts will catch up with his be­lief: “I’m a very in­stinc­tual per­son, but my in­stinct turns out to be right.”

Be­neath the grandiose be­hav­ior of ev­ery nar­cis­sist lies the pit of frag­ile self-es­teem. What if, deep down, the per­son whom Trump trusts least is him­self? The hu­mil­i­a­tion of be­ing widely ex­posed as a “loser,” un­able to bully through the ac­tions he promised dur­ing the cam­paign, could drive him to prove he is, af­ter all, a “killer.”

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