This first installment in “The Resignation of Donald J. Trump,” a four-part series by John M. Miller, is published without comment. The photographs have been added.
I. The Presidential Personality Disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is, if you will “parson” the expression, the Bible of psychiatrists and psychologists. Here is what it says about the narcissistic personality disorder:
“The essential is a Personality Disorder in which there are grandiose sense of self-importance or uniqueness; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success; exhibitionistic need for constant attention and admiration; characteristic responses to threats of self-esteem; and characteristic disturbances in interpersonal relationships, such as feelings of entitlement, interpersonal exploitativeness, relations that alternate between the extremes of over-idealization and devaluation, and lack of empathy. The exaggerated sense of self-importance may be manifested as extreme self-centeredness and self-absorption.”
No one familiar to any American citizen could more completely fit that description than the President of the United States of America. Donald J. Trump has a serious personality disorder. He exhibits it on a daily, often on an hourly, basis. His actions are classic examples of narcissism.
Mental health professionals declare narcissism to be one of several personality and mental disorders. Not all psychiatrists agree that a personality disorder is a form of mental illness. However they do agree that narcissism is sufficiently abnormal that it can be classified as a mental disorder.
Narcissists seek attention. They crave attention. For them to feel fulfilled, full-blown narcissists believe everything going on around them must be about them. If anyone or anything else is the focus of attention, they feel diminished and thwarted. Because that behavior is so aberrant, it is categorized as a mental disorder.
The United States of America and the entire world are in a burgeoning crisis because of the increasingly erratic behavior of the American President. We are being led, and far more frequently misled, by an utterly unpredictable human being. His unpredictability is the result of his narcissism.
It is an extremely provocative statement for anyone to claim that the American President has a mental disorder. That is particularly true when an elderly preacher with little formal training in psychology is the one making the claim. Yet for more than half a century this elderly preacher has observed many parishioners and others who were narcissists. All of them were relatively harmless. Donald Trump is anything but harmless.
It is amazing that millions of American voices have not joined in a cacophonous chorus of citizens who also have unhappily identified the sober and somber condition of our President. His actions verify that he has a severe, and rapidly growing, mental disorder. Recently Charles Krauthammer wrote that the President has “a pathological need to display dominance.” Would that other widely-read columnists would also join their colleague in his accurate assessment.
Why isn’t there a much more widely acknowledged demand for steps to be taken to overcome the grave threat facing us? Many newscasters are concerned, and Democrats in Congress are nearly apoplectic. Yet the American people as a whole thus far are passive bystanders. The danger facing us because of the President’s flawed perception of reality is as great as it was in World War II or in the Cold War, although it is a very type of danger. But we are still a nation of Neros, fiddling while Rome burns. And remember: It was Nero himself who set Rome ablaze.
Every day the President lights matches and throws political bombs both large and small. His rants and tweets and insults indicate his instability, but there is no concerted movement to force him to resign. Why?
The basic explanation for our hesitation is that our nation has never been in a situation like this before. The President declares himself to be the greatest President since Abraham Lincoln. He claims to have passed more legislation during his first six months than any previous President. These and many other such statements are undeniably delusions. They are not the mere braggadocio of a television reality-show host; Mr. Trump honestly believes these statements. His most zealous supporters apparently also believe them.
During the past century, several other narcissistic men like Donald Trump crossed the stage of history, leaving a huge and bloody swath behind them. Four such fellow narcissists were Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein.
President Trump is determined to remake America in his own image. That is what narcissists with unlimited political power invariably do. Power goes to the heads of the all-powerful. Hitler became Nazi Germany, and Nazi Germany was Hitler. Stalin became the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union was Stalin. Mao became China, and China was Mao. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Saddam became Iraq, and Iraq was Saddam. People who seek complete political power may not have been narcissists before they initiated their lofty seizure of total control, but they become extreme narcissists during the pursuit.
Almost all narcissists are content to seek attention on small stages, because that is where they live. Gigantic narcissists seek attention on a huge stage. And in the process they require opulent palaces and dachas and country or city or beachside estates to keep them satisfied in their narcissism.
Let us be clear. This is no attempt at this point to equate President Trump to the aforementioned four infamous dictators. His behavior up to the present is not nearly as draconian as theirs. But I am suggesting it is inevitable that a particular kind of personality disorder when yoked with growing or unquestioned political power can exacerbate that disorder into an enormous and potentially disastrous mental imbalance. That is the tragic and dangerous path our President is quickly traversing.
Dictators rarely begin their political careers as dictators. They are shrewd enough to realize that totalitarian power must be seized carefully and slowly. Eventually, however, care and a leisurely pace are jettisoned for a complete seizure of all the authority the state is able to command.
Any authoritarian who is utterly inured to the sufferings they cause their own people is, by definition, a severe narcissist. The history of totalitarian regimes is the history of unlimited narcissism in the pursuit of unlimited power.
Probably no two of the four autocrats herein cited had exactly the same kind of personality disorder as Donald Trump. By their very nature, personality disorders are likely completely individualized. Nevertheless, by their behavior authoritarian autocrats manifest a distinctive kind of illness which apparently afflicts only those who are given or who acquire unrestricted political power.
Donald Trump is no more to be blamed for his mental disorder than are people with physical illnesses to be blamed for their maladies. The President deserves compassion and sympathy. He is not an inherently evil man, though that is what many of his detractors think. Nor did he choose in his early years to become cantankerous and a deliberate promoter of chaos, though he is extremely cantankerous and chaotic. But he displays those qualities because of his personality disorder, not because of any carefully considered choices. In truth, it seems that few or none of his choices are carefully considered, which is another glaring index of his illness.
It is easy to denigrate Donald Trump, but one should not denigrate someone suffering from a serious personality instability. His daily behavior verifies the magnitude of his malady. However, when the most powerful man on our planet is afflicted with what clearly should be widely perceived as a dangerous mental imbalance, something must be done to rectify an intolerable situation.
To say that the President is mentally unstable is not to say that he is an unable person. He is incredibly able, amazing able, astoundingly able.
In a fairly narrowly circumscribed but very successful strategy, Donald Trump became a partisan political genius, like many other such previous narcissistic political geniuses. He is demonstrably a master salesman, having exhibited the art of the ultimate political deal by becoming President of the United States. He has astonishingly solidified what he loves to call his “base.” And he closed that “deal” over the year and a half that he campaigned for the Republican nomination as President, the three months he campaigned as the Republican nominee, and the six months he has served as President. Over eighty percent of those who voted for him are still extraordinarily enthusiastic about him.
That unflagging support is an enigma to the 60+ percent of the population who now disapprove of his performance as President. Still, it is the positive proof of his extraordinary political acumen that his base has scarcely lost one scintilla of their zeal for their man.
We need to remember, though, that the same phenomenon was observed in the millions of Germans, Russians, Chinese and Iraqis who were so committed to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Saddam during their bloody reigns of terror. No one can seek and maintain total power in an authoritarian state without strong endorsement from a sizable percentage of the population, even if the support is based on unmitigated fear.
The Multiple Firings, Dictatorial Decisions,
and the Beleaguered Jeff Sessions
The many people who have already been fired in the Trump Administration is an example of how serious his illness is. Literally no one in his right mind would fire so many key people in such a short span of time, and for such spurious peccadilloes, unless his judgment had become badly impaired. It is not a brain tumor which has caused this behavior, but it is surely the result of an impairment in his brain, namely, his major personality disorder.
The President demands complete loyalty from everyone serving “at his pleasure.” If he detects the slightest disloyalty, even if his assessment is completely mistaken, the “offender” is gone. There is no point in listing the names of the many people who have unceremoniously been ejected from the Trump administration. Nor is there any purpose in trying to guess the reasons for any of the political bloodletting. No reason was needed, and usually no plausible one was offered. If the President suspected disloyalty, the person was out.
No completely sane leader of any organization would dismiss so many key members of that organization in so short a time. It is obviously disruptive and demoralizing to everyone in his administration. Unfortunately, very talented irrational people often do become leaders of organizations, but irrationality and effective leadership are always in constant conflict. To allow such behavior in the chief executive of the United States government is politically and organizationally irresponsible. It is not a reality show the President is overseeing; it is the American government.
The number of presidential executive decisions, apparently made in consultation with no one, is incomprehensible. The volume of the rumblings in the White House and throughout the various federal departments is rapidly growing. The military have been caught off guard and have been deeply embarrassed several times by ill-conceived presidential orders. The entire federal government and bureaucracy are constantly forced to wonder what shall happen next.
Those who have remained loyal to the President firmly believe it is his carefully considered intention to act as he does. They imagine that he wants to keep everyone in suspense. His presidency is, he proudly informs us, “a new kind of presidency.” That is a statement no one would or could dispute.
But it should be obvious to everyone that Donald Trump does not carefully consider anything. He acts solely on impulse. By all accounts, he does not devote much time to study reports or recommendations, including his daily intelligence reports. Nonetheless, with cavalier disregard, he instantly makes decisions which affect not only the policies of the USA, but of our allies and the entire world. He has frequently undercut time-tested policies which have been in place for decades, without even attempting to explain why he did it. He just does it. It is what narcissists do.
When he was the CEO of his own corporation, living by his own rules, he had the authority and the unrestrained ability to do such things. As President of the United States, this bizarre behavior guarantees nothing but enormous political apprehension and uncertainty. It cannot and must not be tolerated.
Mr. Trump’s incurable narcissism is surely the subconscious explanation for his bizarre actions. He knows he shall be excoriated in the news every hour of every day on the 24/7 news networks, except on Fox, his and his base’s favorite news network. He loves Fox and detests the others, but if the others are decrying his every move, he is ecstatic, because they are criticizing him. He must be the center of every controversy in order for his giant, fragile ego to be nourished.
Bad coverage is always preferable to no coverage for a narcissist, and he guarantees himself bad coverage. If everyone is talking about him, he is happy, regardless of what is being said.
The President’s treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an incomprehensible example of the President’s skewed behavior. For weeks he has been berating him and accusing him of being disloyal. And he does this to the first major politician to endorse him early in the Republican primary campaign. It is inexplicable — except that it isn’t.
Mr. Sessions will probably refuse to resign. If so, the President may fire him. Mr. Sessions and the United States Congress are well aware that could foment a constitutional crisis. Apparently Mr. Trump does not understand that, nor does he seem to care.
No stable, even-tempered, thoughtful, rational person would do the things Donald Trump continues to do every single day. Only an unstable, ill-tempered, thoughtless, irrational person would do that. A mentally healthy person would never act the way our President acts repeatedly and frequently.
The man is mentally unstable. There is great peril for the nation if we allow the current situation to continue. Four years of this presidency are unimaginable. Mr. Trump must resign. We, and he, have no other alternative.
But Donald Trump being Donald Trump, how shall that ever happen?
John Miller is a writer, author, lecturer, and preacher-for-over-fifty-years who is pastor of The Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head Island, SC.
Future installments are:
The Resignation of Donald J. Trump: II – The Unacceptable Danger of Impeachment
The Resignation of Donald J. Trump: III – Only GOP Leaders Can Convince Mr. Trump to Resign
The Resignation of Donald J. Trump: IV – The Twitter-in-Chief