A PERSISTENT LOSS OF REALITY
“THERE HAVE BEEN PRESIDENTS WHO COULD BE SAID TO BE NARCISSISTIC, BUT NONE HAVE SHOWN SOCIOPATHIC QUALITIES
TO THE DEGREE SEEN IN TRUMP.”
a very public figure for many years, we are in an excellent position to know his behaviors—his speech and actions— which are precisely the basis for making an assessment of his dangerousness, whether we assess him using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for antisocial personality disorder, as below, or whether we apply our knowledge of malignant narcissism, both of which include the signs and symptoms of sociopathy. Let us consider these in turn. Lack of Empathy for Others; Lack of Remorse; Lying and Cheating Trump’s mocking the disability of a handicapped reporter, unconcern for the safety of protesters at a rally (“Get rid of them!”), sexually assaulting women, threatening physical harm to his opponent in the election (alluding to gun owners eliminating her), repeatedly verbally attacking a family who lost their son fighting for the country, degrading people who criticize him (calling them insulting names, as he did in both the Republican primaries and the general election), a history of cheating people he’s hired by not paying them what he owes, and targeting and terrifying minority groups all provide overwhelming evidence of profound sociopathic traits. Loss of Reality Trump’s insistence on the truth of matters proved to be untrue (“alternative facts”) is well known, even when such denial is not in his interest. He has falsely claimed that President Barack Obama is not an American and that he wiretapped Trump’s building, that his loss in the popular vote of the general election was caused by illegal aliens, that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history and so on. Together, these show a persistent loss of reality. Rage Reactions and Impulsivity Trump’s rages have been reported on multiple occasions, leading to sudden decisions and actions. He fired and subsequently threatened the director of the FBI after hearing
him testify in unwanted ways before Congress; launched more than 50 missiles within 72 hours of seeing a disturbing image on the news, reversing his stated Middle East policy; precipitously violated diplomatic norms, creating international tensions (as with reports of threatening to invade Mexico, hanging up on the prime minister of Australia, antagonizing Germany, France, Greece and others); and issued illegal executive orders, apparently without vetting them with knowledgeable attorneys.
While there have surely been American presidents who could be said to be narcissistic, none have shown sociopathic qualities to the degree seen in Trump. Correspondingly, none have been so definitively and so obviously dangerous. Democracy requires respect and protection for multiple points of view, concepts that are incompatible with sociopathy. The need to be seen as superior and a lack of empathy or remorse for harming other people are in fact the signature characteristics of tyrants, who seek the control and destruction of all who oppose them, as well as loyalty to themselves instead of the country they lead.
The paranoia of severe sociopathy creates a profound risk of war, since heads of other nations will inevitably disagree with or challenge the sociopathic leader, who will experience the disagreement as a personal attack, leading to rage reactions and impulsive action to destroy this “enemy.” Trump’s sociopathic characteristics are undeniable and create a profound danger for America.