Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock
Photo: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock via Psychology Today

Psychology Today recently (Jan. 31, 2017) reported:

In the several days since psychologist John Gartner posted a petition on Facebook declaring that Donald Trump must be removed from office because he has “a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States,” more than 18,000 psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals have signed their agreement.

Gartner, a psychologist in private practice in Baltimore and New York, author of a psychobiography of Bill Clinton, and a former instructor in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, contends that Trump “manifestly” meets the DSM-published criteria for at least three personality disorders: narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder. They are a “toxic brew” that in his view not only make Trump “dangerous” but add up to “malignant narcissism,” not a diagnosis formalized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual [of mental disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association] but a label coined by the German-born psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.

An indirect personality assessment of Donald Trump conducted 2015–2016 from the conceptual perspective of psychologist Theodore Millon, employing the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which is congruent with Axis II of DSM–IV, revealed that Trump’s predominant personality patterns are Ambitious/exploitative (Scale 2: a measure of narcissistic tendencies) and Outgoing/impulsive (Scale 3: a measure of histrionic tendencies), infused with secondary features of the Dominant/controlling pattern (Scale 1A: a measure of sadistic tendencies) and supplemented by a Dauntless/adventurous tendency (Scale 1B: a measure of antisocial and sensation-seeking tendencies).

The study found no empirical evidence of a Distrusting personality pattern (Scale 9: a measure of paranoid tendencies) — an integral component of malignant narcissism, a severely disturbed personality disorder characterized by narcissistic grandiosity, self-absorption, and lack of empathy; no constraints of conscience (an antisocial tendency); a paranoid orientation; and unconstrained aggression (sadism). Notably, Scale 1A (sadistic) and Scale 1B (antisocial) also failed to reach the MIDC scale elevation threshold of 24 required for inferring the existence of a personality disorder. Consequently, it cannot be concluded that Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist.



According to the Psychology Today report, psychiatrist Allen Frances — who helped write the criteria for personality disorders — views “public diagnoses being bandied about” as inaccurate and missing the point, because “they ignore the criterion that symptoms must be causing distress and impairment.” Donald Trump, according to Frances, “causes distress to others, not to himself … [and] is rewarded for his behaviors.”


Update: February 24, 2017

Trump’s mental health: ‘The elephant in the room’ (“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” MSNBC, Feb. 23, 2017) — As psychologists and psychiatrists continue to warn about President Trump’s mental health, the Columbia Journalism Review called Trump’s mental health “the elephant in the room.” Lee Siegel, who wrote the CJR column, and Dr. Lance Dodes join Lawrence. (Duration: 7:04)


Update: May 6, 2017

Jesse Watters vs. psychologist that claims Trump is mentally ill (Watters’ World, Fox News Channel,  May 6, 2017) — Yale’s Dr. John Gartner, founder of “Duty to Warn.” (Duration: 06:42)


Related report on this site

Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Not the Main Issue (Aug. 11, 2016)

Confident-Narcissistic_spectrum Sociable-Histrionic_spectrum
© 2015 MILLON® (Click on images for larger view)

4 Responses to “Is Donald Trump a Malignant Narcissist?”
  1. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    Donald Trump’s FACE gives away his leadership style: Researchers say it shows an ‘aggressive, dominant and powerful’ man – but one prone to act unethically (Stacy Liberatore, Daily Mail, January 20, 2017).

    The article reports a recent study in “Scientific American Mind” of psychopathic traits in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and other historical figures by Dr. Kevin Dutton of Oxford University, using the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – Revised (PPI-R).

    The study revealed that Trump ranks above Adolf Hitler and below Saddam Hussein in psychopathic traits.

    Trump outscored Clinton overall on the PPI-R’s Fearless Dominance, Self-Centered Impulsivity, and Coldheartedness subscales, but especially on Fearless Dominance, which is associated with successful presidencies.

    Read more:

  2. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    STAT interviewed 10 psychiatrists and psychologists — some supporters of Trump, some not — about the president’s behavior and what it might say about his personality and mental health. All are respected in their field and close observers of Trump. They based their views on his books, public statements, appearances, and tweets, but emphasized that they have no firsthand knowledge of Trump.

    The experts see three key psychological traits: Trump’s apparent anger and his resulting confrontational behavior (and the related joy he seems to take in attacking those who challenge or criticize him), his narcissism, and his seemingly compulsive need to tweet. …

    Begley, Sharon (2017, January 30). “Crazy like a fox”: Mental health experts try to get inside Trump’s mind. STAT News. Available from:

  3. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    The psychology of narcissism »

  4. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » A Question of Temperament: Donald Trump’s Fitness to Lead Says:

    […] Is Donald Trump a Malignant Narcissist? (Feb. 22, 2017) […]

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