From the book: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump by Bandy Lee, MD, MDiv
Personality Disorder #2 – Sociopathy
Sociopathy is officially called antisocial personality disorder and is characterized by at least three of the following:
1. Failure to follow laws and rules,
2: Repeated lying or conning for personal profit or pleasure,
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead,
4. Irritability & aggressive behavior (fights or assaults),
5. Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
6. Consistent irresponsibility (failure to sustain work or honor financial obligations),
7. Lack of remorse – indifference to or rationalizing hurting others,
8. Impulsive, aggressive, callous, or deceitful behavior that is difficult to deter.
Trump has all eight.
1 (skirting Constitutional emolument and nepotism rules, many shady business deals),
2 (averaging more than 15 false or misleading claims per day),
3 (making impulsive Tweets and statements that have to be retracted)
4 (sexually assaulting and harassing many females, provoking assaults by rally attendees, encouraging white supremacists),
5 (taking an unproven drug for the coronavirus, provoking attacks on rally protestors),
6 (having several bankruptcies and failed businesses, failing to pay many employees and contractors),
7 (never apologizing or taking responsibility for injury to others), and
8 (examples too numerous to list).
Is someone who cons others, lies, cheats, manipulates to get what he wants, and doesn’t care whom he hurts (1) just indifferent to the feelings of others, (2) crazy like a fox, or (3) mentally ill? Someone can certainly be both evil and crazy. Normal people, as well as normal wolves, dolphins, elephants, primates, and many other species, recognize when another individual is in pain or danger, and they protect others from harm unless their own survival is at stake. Empathy, caring and cooperation have evolved across many species. Lack of empathy in humans is the hallmark of sociopathy. Lacking this essential part of being human is a severe psychological dysfunction.
Because our culture admires external success and power, some amount of sociopathy is seen as superior functioning. That makes manipulation and domination confusing to assess. People who are good at charming others and at concealing their immoral and illegal behavior are “successful sociopaths.” Rather than exploding in violent rages, they simply fire people or sue them. They have underlings do their dirty work. Their emotional deficiencies are carefully hidden from most people.
Sociopathic people often use “projection,” believing that their own feelings and thoughts are in others. These are often aggressive and dangerous feelings, so sociopaths see others as aggressive and dangerous, and that justifies attacking them.
Sociopaths often see others as all evil or all good, depending on the projection of the moment. They treat others as great friends, then abruptly turn on them as dangerous enemies. Absolute loyalty is demanded of others, but no true relationship exists.
While having no true empathy, sociopaths are often acutely aware of fear and vulnerability in their “prey,” making the sociopath an expert at manipulation. The more the sociopath scapegoats others, the more they hate the weaknesses they imagine in the other, and the more it justifies being aggressive and sadistic.
Donald Trump’s lack of empathy is demonstrated by his mocking a handicapped reporter, inciting violence against protestors at his rallies, threatening harm to political opponents, verbally attacking a gold-star family, degrading anyone who criticizes him, cheating people he hires, and demeaning minority groups. He also has a long history of sexually harassing and assaulting women. Trump appears to take sadistic pleasure in hurting others. He gleefully bragged about being able to do anything he wants to women. He said about a protester at a rally, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” He has sent hundreds of Tweets to humiliate someone that can be described as cyberbullying. If anyone does something Trump does not like, he will make the person pay for it. Sadism is what separates malignant narcissism from normal narcissism.
Trump does not simply oppose or dispute his perceived critics, he tries to belittle and humiliate them with gleeful vindictiveness. He has labeled adversaries and critics as stupid, incompetent, evil, vicious, a disgrace, and corrupt while calling himself perfect. Even when he thinks he has won a confrontation, he never expresses grace or humility.
Trump’s sociopathic personality traits make him exceedingly dangerous. They are the characteristics of tyrants and mob bosses and are profoundly dangerous to our American democracy.