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President Donald Trump made a statement in an interview with the New York Times that at the very least raised some eyebrows into his behavior and psyche. Trump said he would have never tapped Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russian investigation.
A deeper look into the interview provides examples of the emotional subtexts that psychiatrists and psychologists say offer a window into the president’s mind.It should first be noted that Trump was much more articulate in this interview than in previous times, which can mean that his Twittered rants and gibberish may just be from exhaustion and stress. However, many professionals in the mental health field say their diagnosis since he took office is shining through. Psychologist John Montgomery from New York University said “Most of the now-familiar Trumpian patterns are here,” said psychologist John Montgomery of New York University.
Here are the examples from the NYT interview:
This is an example of what is termed as compulsive more-than behavior (a deep need to never feel even slightly less than others in terms of knowledge, intelligence, power, or popularity) by psychologists. Trump was asked about working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump instead used the question to extol his own knowledge when he side stepped his brief answer. This need comes into the picture when the person (Trump) finds the idea that he could fall short of anyone on virtually any measure a profound threat to his sense of self. Montgomery and his colleagues all reiterate that they have never had a conversation with the President and are simply commenting on his statements and past behavior.
When Trump was asked on July 6th in Poland about his upcoming trip to Paris he made the “greatest speech ever” claim which psychologists say shows Trump displays signs of a narcissistic personality. (Although some psychiatrists assert that he has narcissistic personality disorder, Trump shows no signs of the “distress” or “impairment” that such a diagnosis requires.)
The grandiosity Trump displays a key factor in that kind of personality as Montgomery explains “It does seem to be very difficult for Trump to think about foreign and domestic policy issues outside his prism of ‘more than,'” a need to portray himself as superior on virtually all measures, he also said “It’s all about winning, dominance, being ‘more than’ other people,” which may be a way of compensating “for inner feelings of ‘less than.'”
He sees enemies everywhere. This is shown in his perceptions of perpetual unfairness from people everywhere around him. In reference to his pulling out of the Paris Agreement’s climate accord:
Psychologists remark that someone who needs a constant reminder of their superiority does not handle it well when they feel they let themselves be taken advantage of, which is a huge sign of weakness. Behavior specialists say a person who needs to have constant reminders of their own superiority simply cannot handle feeling left out and abandoned. The allusion to his core supporters “loving” what he did suggests the need for adulation that characterizes people with narcissistic personalities.
According to a recent poll, 82 percent of French voters view Trump unfavorably, somewhat short of “they love you.”
After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey there was major public backlash, and the “headaches” he was referring to were caused by it. Subsequently, a special prosecutor was named to investigate the alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election which many say was a dire threat to Trump. Here we see Trump refusing to even remotely admit his shortcomings or errors saying his decision to fire Comey was “great”, which lines up with psychologists claims of narcissistic personality since ‘people who need to be right because admitting a mistake threatens their fragile self-image－which is often at the root of a narcissistic personality.’
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