Duty to inform

A clinical psychologist argues that we need to set aside the bouquet of armchair diagnoses of Trump and settle on the one overriding diagnosis that captures it all.

I invited Dr. Greenwood, who is a clinical psychologist and founder of The Washington Center For Cognitive Therapy, to answer a few questions. In addition to his presence o[n] Medium, he has just launched a new website, dutytoinform.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @dutytoinform.

The first question is why do we need one overarching diagnosis.

Mental health professionals have offered several diagnoses of the president. They have done so usually to warn the public about his psychiatric vulnerabilities and dangerousness. They want to engage the public in a serious argument. And to be fair, the president does appear to meet diagnostic criteria for more than one disorder. However, by offering multiple diagnoses of the president, the impact and understanding of a particular diagnosis is compromised. Information overload kicks in, and people tune out.

Also, a more severe diagnosis deserves to be emphasized.

And that more severe diagnosis is…dude’s a psychopath.

The first core trait of the Psychopath is the “Drive to Dominate.” How does that manifest in Trump’s behavior in life, business and politics? I’m guessing it also explains his attitude to Black Lives Matter protesters?

Yes, the drive to dominate is one of the driving forces of the psychopath. They cannot lovingly connect with others, and can only relate to others through the gear of domination. “Winning,” as Trump endlessly repeats, is everything. Nestled within this cluster of traits are arrogance, deceitfulness, and attention-seeking.

And there’s nothing in column B. Literally nothing.

Trump’s bandwidth of emotions are limited to those associated with his drive to dominate others and prevail over his critics: anger, contempt, jealousy, feeling thwarted, mistrust, glee. These are the emotions depicted in the well-researched biographies of the man and his autobiographical writings. He is devoid of the more tender emotions that could engender solidarity, trust, or empathy.

That’s the creepy bit. That’s what makes it impossible to ignore him.

And it’s what his millions of fans like about him. That’s a fact about the US now, and it’s one we’ll never live down.

The second core trait is “Remorselessness.” Again, how does that apply to Trump?

Remorselessness is perhaps the most consequential trait in the man. Psychopaths appear to be born with brain abnormalities that lead to a deficit in conscience and empathy. Our conscience—that inner voice of “I should”—motivates us to meet our obligations and commitments to both those we love and the broader community. When this fundamental concern for others is missing, what’s left is a focus on immediate, egocentric gains.

And a terrible terrible person.

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