Tag Archives: analysis

“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….