“Play Ball!” A Sad Story

As November 3d gets closer, Trump’s behavior gets more bizarre. (I know, that seemed impossible…)

Just in the past couple of weeks, he has retweeted “medical advice” from a doctor who warns people against having sex with demons and thinks the government is preparing to vaccinate people against religion. Oh–and she also says that pharmaceutical laboratories use alien DNA in formulating their medications. (Maybe the opponents of “Big Pharma” know something??)

Trump also invented an invitation–which he then “declined”– to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game, evidently because he was jealous that Dr. Fauci had been asked to do so. The invitation reportedly came as a surprise to both the Yankees and the White House.

Trump’s abrupt announcement was reportedly prompted by his irritation that Fauci, who has clashed with the President’s rosy framing of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S., had been invited to throw out the opening pitch.

The President walked back his announcement on Sunday, tweeting that plans to throw the first pitch were cancelled due to his “strong focus” on COVID-19.

This would all be pretty funny if we weren’t talking about the President of the United States. 

In an article originally from Salon, Chauncy DeVega interviewed a psychiatrist who had previously written that Trump is a psychopath. Dr. Justin Frank is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center and has more than 40 years of experience in psychoanalysis. His most recent book is “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”

I am not unmindful–nor dismissive– of professional concerns about “distant analysis,” but Frank has been joined by a significant cohort of other psychiatrists expressing concerns grounded in Trump’s very public behaviors.

DeVega prefaced his interview with a summary of those psychiatrists’ conclusions:

Through his public behavior Trump has repeatedly shown that he is mentally unwell. His apparent pathologies include malignant narcissism, delusions of grandeur, an attraction to violence, sadism, a lack of impulse control, utter disregard for rules and norms, and a pathological tendency to lie. In sum, our president can be reasonably described as a psychopath or a sociopath.

As DeVega notes, mental health professionals have repeatedly warned the public that Donald Trump’s mental health makes him a danger to the United States and the world, and we are seeing that danger play out in very public ways as the election nears. I found the following insights from Dr. Frank’s interview particularly illuminating.

He has always had a split mind. It is split between two sides. This is called “binary thinking.” In this way of thinking a person is either right or wrong. You like me or you hate me. You’re loyal or you’re disloyal. Trump’s world is very clearly demarcated. Now he is likely upset by Fox News because of his interview with Chris Wallace. In his mind, Fox News is now a very difficult organization. How is he going to place them? Good or bad? Friend of foe? A person develops binary thinking as a way of protecting themselves from anxiety. Trump has made his world very simple. If anyone questions or challenges him they are “nasty” and must be retaliated against. That’s how his world is.

I was previously unfamiliar with “binary thinking,” but it explains a lot.

Frank attributes Trump’s seething hatred of Obama primarily to the fact that Obama shamed him at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011.

“It was very upsetting to Trump. I believe those feelings were converted in Trump’s mind from humiliation and shame immediately into aggressive hatred. The problem with binary thinking is that unless you learn to think complex thoughts, you have a very limited range of responses to adversity or trouble.”

The interview with Frank was lengthy, and it is worth clicking through and reading in its entirety. He and DeVega discuss Mary Trump’s book, Republican cowardice, and the public’s various reactions to Trump, but the observation that I thought was the saddest–and most illuminating–was this:

The most painful thing about Trump to me is that he really envies people who are loved. Trump hates people who are loved. Trump hated Obama not just because he made the mistake of being president while black, Trump also hates Obama because he was loved.

On a personal level, this is tragic, because the more Trump “acts out’ in an effort to be loved, the more he displays how defective and unloveable he is.

If he hadn’t done so much damage–and if he didn’t have the nuclear codes–I would be a lot more compassionate….


  1. I’m reading Mary Trump’s book now, and I believe your correct in your conclusion, Trump was never been loved and has spent a lifetime extracting a price from everyone for his desire to be loved. The comments recently about Dr Fauci that Fauci works for him and he is entitled to the love and popularity Fauci recurve, and asks why people don’t like him ?
    I see Trump as a hollow man, hollowed out be envy, hatred, and his own lies to himself.
    He seldom laughs, can’t make a funny joke or ever laugh at himself , he displays no sense of humor or any kindness. Just a hollow man striking out at others like a hydrogen gas filled balloon ready to explode any moment. And that fear controlled the Republican Party, but as his popularity, crowds and polling numbers drop into the low 30’s you will see the remaining main stream republicans turn on him to save themselves and the party, Lis Chaney has started and a few others are ready, the next few months will tell the tail. Stay Well Friends

  2. If Trump is feeling unloved these days, I can’t imagine just how much more unloved he will feel after leaving office and the full attention of the Justice Department in New York is upon him.

  3. I look forward to reading the Salon article. I’ve been following psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee on Twitter for some time. She’s been very outspoken about the America Psychiatric Association’s soft-ban on their practitioners commenting on the mental health of TRE45ON and she’s been largely shunned by mainstream media for doing so. If he was showing symptoms of heart problems there would be a parade of cardiologists on TV to discuss it ad nauseam. Some of Dr. Lee’s thought may be seen at MeidasTouch.com a small progressive PAC and a wonderful site full of all things anti-TRE45ON.



  4. Trump has no comprehension of love, which is unconditional. He evaluates everyone on extrinsic qualifications. He want to prove something at every corner. He wants to demand respect from those he considers inferiors; which is everyone.

  5. I watched Trump’s “Coronavirus Task Force” press conference last night; I have started trying to watch when I know he will be speaking because it is ultimately important to be aware of his every word at this time. Last night I watched a totally insane man speaking to the nation and the world beyond; as I watched I prayed for God to please save my county from this man. Then I cried; missing a portion of the speech because I couldn’t read the closed captioning through tears. I later wondered about my prayers and if there is anyone there at this time to hear them.

    I thought of the actress Frances Farmer’s prize winning speech in the city of Seattle, Washington so long ago, titled “God Is Dead”. She was a high school student at the time and had lost her favorite red hat; at the same time her best friend’s mother was dying, both girls were praying for help. Her friend’s mother died but Frances found he favorite red hat; her contest entry was based on the fact that God must be dead if He would let her friend’s mother die but help her find her red hat.

    How many more must die due to Trump’s insanity; how many will lose jobs, homes, income in any form, medical care, the right to vote and the loss of civil rights due to his whims? And often due to his anger at anyone who disagrees with him who becomes his target for retaliation? And how many are praying for help which thus far has not come? I am not a religious person by nature but as the old saying goes, “There are no atheists in fox holes.” An apt description of our current situation at this time of death and destruction by a crazy man.

  6. Well, Donny has lots of sociopathic companions in Washington. And many are narcissists as well. How else can you explain hundreds of “public officials” walking away from $600 a week in benefits to the millions of unemployed Americans experiencing the negative consequences of COVID made worse by a self-centered POTUS.

    What’s worse is their immediate response was to fund Big Pharma and ensure Wall Street that the FED had them covered.

    A thoughtful eye exposes the whole corrupt mess and what it takes to survive in Washington. I think those with a mild conscience have already resigned their posts. Can you imagine if we forced lawmakers to be drug tested or submit to breathalyzers before taking part in policy and lawmaking?

    It is such a disgusting racket that only sociopaths can find it easy to tour their districts, promising the stars knowing full well they are lying. They can smile, shake hands, and look you straight in the face while lying through their teeth. This is why they go to supportive media sources for interviews; none of them want to be blind-sided with tough questions. Think, Mike Pence interview by George Stephanopoulos.

    The GOP denounced and rejected Trump right up until he won the primary against a large field of candidates. Once he won, they embraced him and supported his every move even though Trump’s actions and decision-making reinforced why they rejected him in the first place.

    What kind of psychopathy does this require?

    If the negative consequences weren’t so high for Americans, it would be a fantastic show to watch. Sadly, all these mental rejects have risen to a place where their decision-making negatively impacts the average American more so than any other country.

    As I mentioned on this blog last week, Trump’s psychotic “gut and mind” is where all his great hunches come from despite having access to the greatest minds this country has to offer. As he likes to remind the country, he is a stable genius with incredible intuition. That’s scary!!

    He is already preparing himself and the world for rejecting the outcome on November 3rd if he loses. His tweets are predicting the future.

  7. It’s not that Trump envies that other people are loved and wants that love for himself. What he envies and wants is that other people are *admired*. The distinction is important.

    Note also that his need for admiration is a bottomless pit.

  8. Todd,

    Good point about Republicans coddling a lunatic. Many of us on this blog remain confounded as to why they did this. Perhaps the salient explanation centers around the fact that big Pharma gets bailout money – funding Kodak to start being a pharmaceutical company from scratch comes immediately to mind – while working people who have lost their jobs get screwed AGAIN by Republicans who are being paid to cater to those very donors. Certainly the Citizens United v. FEC decision amplified the graft and bribery of our governments at all levels. The Republicans fell over themselves running to the trough of corruption and Democrats had to follow to keep up.

    Donald Trump isn’t the only mentally ill person running America into the ditch. What about the 62 million fools who voted for him? What is it in THEIR psychological makeup that makes them blindly follow a psychopath? Oh. Wait. It’s the Obama-successful-admired-loved-black-man thing that caused the racist pot to boil over. The Trump phenomenon showed us how racist this country still is. Even those among the starving and soon-to-be-homeless 35% will blindly follow Trump over the cliff. EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES. EVERYTHING.

    Trump also cheats at golf. Psychopath.

  9. While the state of Trump’s mind is inarguable remember that power drunk Republicans don’t care about any of that. They care only about power and wealth and gladly followed a lunatic there and will try everything that they can to pull off a repeat.

    Our response, other than employing the democracy of Election Day promised by the Constitution, is up to Democrats who we assume must be trying everything to plug the holes that might allow our freedom to be put at risk by corruption from many fronts, foreign and domestic.

    Meanwhile the only business still thriving is the entertainment business maintaining the religion that gives them uber-loyal audiences and us a country that is paralyzed, unable to respond to the biggest threat since WWII.

    This is not about liberals and authoritarians but about the survival of the first liberal democracy the world experienced by adaptation to the world that is, not the one of cultural nostalgia confused by years of self delusion.

    We desperately need another era of enlightenment because the first one has been obscured by profits in the entertainment media industry.

  10. Donald Trump is a tragic human being. He is someone who lacks the intelligence, knowledge, personality, temperament, maturity and personality to be in any sort of leadership position, especially President of the United States. And, yet, he was elevated to that position. It is not surprising that he is failing spectacularly in the job.

    Donald Trump is nothing special. There are a thousands of people like him out there. You can find most of them at the end of the bar in your neighborhood tavern. They are drunkenly spouting the most outrageous nonsense about politics and life in general. You find the drunk entertaining to listen to, but are comforted by the fact the person has no power to do the crazy stuff he says should be done. Now, instead assume we made that drunk President of the United States.

    Do you blame the drunk for being, as President, exactly the same person he was when he was in the bar? No, you blame the people who made the drunk President and who refused to hold him accountable when his worst instincts took over. Trump is a symptom. Trump’s enablers are the problem. Someone like Attorney General Bill Barr is a 1000 times worse than Trump because Barr knows better and does what he does any way. Just defeating Trump is not enough. Trumpism needs to be defeated.

    And that doesn’t mean just going to a one party system, with Democrats being the only party.. We need a healthy two party system and the Republican Party (or whatever it will be called in the future) needs to exist. But Trumpism needs to be exorcised from the GOP.

    Democrats need to be careful. There are crazies in both parties, and Democrats should be wary about letting their crazies take over the Democratic Party. It could happen.

  11. A new study fresh off the press finds that 78% of those who have “recovered” from the virus will suffer heart disease, blood clots etc. down the road, so it’s not only the current (and increasing) death rate with which we have to contend; it is 78% of the some five million infections (and increasing by the thousands daily) as well. A massive “sickout” is en route.

    Dr. Trump says kids should go to school and even if they catch the virus they will recover. This study, a peer-reviewed JAMA publication, says 78% of the “recovered” are headed for big trouble down the road (and don’t get me started on healthcare costs then). Trump is literally killing people now and after he is gone, and perhaps in the millions. Why must we sit here and watch this happen? Where is a contingent of senators who, like those led by Goldwater with Nixon, will go over to the Oval Office and tell Trump to clean out his desk? We don’t have time to wait on constitutional niceties such as another impeachment or a 25 because there are thousands of new infections every day! We didn’t allow Charles Manson to roam free to practice his deadly artistry, so why do we allow this loonie to do the same thing under the disguise of “policy” when he has clearly lost all connection with reality?

  12. The comment about Trump being unloved is spot-on. Several years ago when that assassin shot a member of Congress at that Congressional baseball game (I don’t recall the Congressman’s name), Trump couldn’t get over the fact that the victim’s wife was distraught that he might die from his injuries. He didn’t die, but was critically ill for a long time, and his wife was very upset over the prospect of losing him–an emotion no one had ever expressed over Trump, which amazed him.

    I read Dr. Mary Trump’s book, and she concludes the same thing: that no one ever loved Donald. She also concludes that he is not only a narcissist, but also a sociopath. She describes his utter lack of anything resembling empathy for anyone or their suffering, plus the fact that everything revolves around him, him, him. She also concurs about his ego being so fragile that he is unable to laugh at himself or to be the object of humor. She relates an incident at a family dinner in which Donald had been tormenting his younger brother, Robert, and no one could get him to stop. Donald bullied his siblings and classmates to the point that he was expelled from a private school even though his father was on the Board of Directors. Donald’s mother couldn’t control him because he didn’t respect her, and his father didn’t care what he did. So, Mary’s father, Fred, Jr. who couldn’t stand it any more, dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes on Donald’s head. Everyone laughed at him, and to this day, if you want to view raw rage, just say “mashed potatoes” to him. That’s why he’s the first POTUS in modern history to refuse to attend the White House correspondents’ dinner.

    All of this should serve as a warning. Donald is projected to lose, and he will stop at literally nothing to prevent the humiliation of being rejected. We have a very bumpy road ahead, and cannot expect the Republican party to do anything to save America from the endless lying, voter suppression tactics, and abuses we haven’t even though of yet.

  13. John Lewis commented, perspicaciously, that love is not a way of feeling, it is a way of being.” Trump’s unremitting self-absorption and pettiness will not let him be something that he isn’t – a sentient human being. If his loyalists understood how much he deplores them because they aren’t him, his popularity ratings would be in single digits. Because he lives such a privileged life, I can’t pity him. However, I reserve my deepest pity for those whose minds and hearts are so defective that they are unable to see how he is a destroyer of everything worth valuing, and a promoter of everything that must be destroyed. How curious that he sees himself as an übermensch while most of us see him as sub-human.

  14. From the Mayo Clinic Website:


    Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

    Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
    Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
    Exaggerate achievements and talents
    Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
    Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
    Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
    Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
    Take advantage of others to get what they want
    Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
    Be envious of others and believe others envy them
    Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
    Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

    At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

    Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
    Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
    >> React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
    Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
    Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
    Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
    Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

    I believe this covers all the behavior we have seen and heard the Trumpet display. The Trumpet owns the GOP the GOP Senators, those in Congress and at the state level know it also.

    Some Republicans may try to look for some principles the party once had. IMHO those principles sailed off into the sunset when the bible thumper’s took the party over along with NRA types. Now the GOP has attracted the Neo-Confederates too.

  15. ML,

    Thanks for the research. All of us, however, have smidgens of each of these traits. But in a psychopath’s case – like Donald Trump’s – every trait is taken to its extreme end of the continuum. Mental health is not a black and white issue, on or off, in or out. Each of us appears along that bell curve of mental health.

    Donald Trump clearly is much closer to the extreme end of the curve where his imbalance may indeed become pathological: He may try to take the whole world down with him. Giving a psychopathic madman the codes to nuclear launch is just asking for the end of all life on Earth. If Trump loses and is humiliated by the landslide, well, one’s imagination can become a very uncomfortable thing.

  16. He’s not learning any statesmanship, but his golf skills must be improving by all the practice provided by taxpayers. Has anyone seen his scoring record or is it like his financials? Does he sport his golf trophies in the Oval Office like the Remington sculpture? Is he part of at least one golfing foursome?

  17. OMG; the only pictures I have seen of Trump golfing he is either deep in the rough or sitting on a golf cart.

  18. After reading Mary Trump’s book, it’s clearer still that Donald Trump does not see shades of gray. In his mind, you are either for or against him, and he has no love for or loyalty to you in either case. After his father bailed him out financially time after time, Donald Trump took advantage of his father’s generosity and tried to re-write his siblings out of his father’s will to make them come begging to Donald for their inheritances.

    Trump views issues with this same over-simplicity. (Who knew health care was so complex?) His lack of intellectual curiosity probably is explained by his inability to comprehend multi-faceted issues, people, and alliances. Authoritarians make life so much simpler. Just follow orders – no need for the ruled subjects to reason through decision-making and no need for rulers to explain their actions, persuade anyone, live within any rules or laws, or respect ANY opinions other than their own. They are Trump’s heroes. He so wants to be like them.

    It’s doubtful we’ve ever had a more dangerous man as President of the United States. Hopefully we never will again.

  19. I recently read Mary Trump’s book and I have to say that I am better able to understand her uncle. However, that does not mean I like him or approve of him as our country’s leader; I just understand him better. He will never be likeable in my opinion, but then, he doesn’t care about my opinion nor anyone else’s. I do feel sorry for him that he cannot now and never will be able to experience love but we do need to remove him from office before he totally destroys America.

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