186. Origin of Trump Traits

3 Sep

There have been many analyses of Donald Trump’s character. Most extensive is a book by Bandy LeeThe Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 2017, which includes essays by 27 psychiatrists. All contributors give him a psychiatric diagnosis, for example, narcissistic, which means, briefly, excessively self-admiring. Almost every day, a commentator on a news program tries to explain some of his behaviors. Many have no good answer.

I am a psychologist and my orientation is towards behavioral science (and also neurophysiology). Such scientists use terminology based on observable actions and tend to reject words that are more indefinite. Behaviors (anything we say or do) are based on our original structures (DNA, etc.) and even more upon all aspects of our environment, including parenting, formal learning, social interactions, observations, etc. Everything we experience can lead to behavioral patterns.

In my essay below, I list certain apparent traits. Each trait represents a set of observable Trump behaviors that are well established.

Intelligence:  I have given many IQ tests and would estimate his current IQ at around 119, which is somewhat above average, but, for example, well below what is necessary for a Ph.D. (IQ of 130). It is a typical IQ for a college student and his mistakes in judgment reflect this. Here are the considerations: he has failed at most businesses, he rarely studies anything written, his actions are simplistic and the full implications of an issue are ignored. When criticized, he rarely presents arguments, but just makes personal attacks. He almost never lays out complex plans or goals. He has guarded his college grades with the threats of lawsuits. When asked a more complicated question, he usually diverts to something else.

Values Money and Power. I am sure he learned this from his parents and his wealthy friends. Also learned in this way is his self-centered orientation. 

Revenge. No matter what the criticism, he usually responds by calling the critic a name or by insulting in some other way. It is pretty certain that this was learned through experience. When he did not respond, there was more criticism from more people. His counterattacks were mostly rewarded. Early on, when he presented counter arguments, he found these to be ineffective. 

Extreme Confidence. This is clear: he ran for President, he is a confident speaker, he has made huge investments, etc. The origin of this confidence is his birth into a very rich family and the financial backup of his father, when alive. Because he was effective in creating an image of great wealth, the confident actions always worked out.

Lies and Mistakes. Literally thousands of lies (some are just mistakes) have been documented. Some are accounted for by memory problems (see below), some are based on limited intelligence,  and the rest are just plain lies to achieve an image or agenda. Intelligent people write down facts and keep this info handy for speeches. This behavior is reinforced by his supporters and is rarely effectively challenged.  

Memory Loss. This is likely the result of mild (but increasing) Alzheimer’s and is typical in older persons. At one time he asserted that he needed little sleep, and it is lack of good sleep that promotes Alzheimer’s. Many of his mistakes appear to be due to memory problems, but that is not definite.

Torture and Cruelty. Many of his actions could be considered cruel. His treatment of Puerto Rican citizens, and his treatment of southern border asylum seekers, are examples. Trump was raised in a rich family and his friends were mostly very rich. He never was exposed to the real hardships faced by many Americans. His focus is on winning, elections, voters, and financial supporters, and little else.

Racism. I have discussed this in previous blogs. What appear to be racist traits may just be actions to keep the votes of his racist people. He definitely supports racist people, but may not be personally a racist.

To summarize, Trump started out his adulthood with a large fortune provided by his father. This made him overconfident and separated (aloof) from ordinary working people. As a general rule, various antisocial behaviors like lying and cruelty are usually followed by some type of punishment But in Trump’s world, these are ignored and sometimes even reinforced. Currently, Trump is severely threatened by investigations, substantial criticism, and failing policies. So unfortunately, we can expect even more erratic behaviors.

 

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