Nine Therapists Share Their Opinions on Trump’s Fitness for Office

by HalBrown

This is an open article. If you are a psychotherapist and willing to have your opinion published in the body of the article, put it on as a comment and include your degree and profession.

Living in a world in which I see or hear Donald Trump on at least a daily basis, it would be peculiar of me not to notice or wonder what drives him. The trick is to figure out what the behaviors mean and whether they are a threat to the country.

A few of the most disturbing behaviors that I have seen in Donald Trump have been the mocking of people he perceives as weak and the degree to which he denies, lies about or distorts information.

In my experience as a therapist, I have worked with people who have been harmed by trauma, including emotional abuse – as children. As a result these children sometimes grow up distrusting most adults and are unable to believe that others in positions of power will love or care for them. These kids may become forever fearful that they will ultimately be revealed as being ‘weak’ which in fact they were as children.

Kids with these terrible experiences may become very thin skinned as adults – because they believe that other wish them the worst. Their behavior often seems inappropriately defensive. At the same time, these kids may crave attention – even negative attention – because it is better than no attention. Unfortunately, when one is a kid, getting yelled at can be better than being ignored.

Kids who experience abuse may become bullies who distract others from their fear of their own weakness by appearing stronger (bullying) weaker kids. They may also get attention from others by lying – which makes them look stronger than they are – at least sometimes. This can become a bad habit. Finally, since they cannot trust authorities, abused kids often learn to trust peers who also don’t trust authorities. This may create some poor choices in choosing friends.

These are the kinds of thoughts that float through my head on a daily basis. Was Trump victimized as a kid? Is that why he is so insensitive to others? Are the people he is choosing in his cabinet – who have such dubious credentials – likewise people who grew up to distrust those in authority? We may never know but if I’m right he is unlikely to change any time soon.

Vanessa N Weber, LCSW, Clinical Social Worker

As a therapist, I have become increasingly sensitive to the kaleidoscope nature of my feelings toward someone that I see often and/or they hold a position of authority or power or some level of partnership with me.. It is difficult to tease apart when I am feeling transference feelings or when my feelings are, instead, manifestations of my pure sense of that person. All people closely or moderately connected to me are, to some extent, incomplete reflections of either others at earlier points of my life or mirror reflections. The remainder may be purely “us,” wherein we so accurately reflect one another that we feel “attuned.”

In the case of my evolving relationship with Donald Trump, I am amazed at the intensity. Certainly there is more than is manifestly exposed. I will continue to observe self. Nevertheless, as a human being and as a clinician, what I continue to observe in DJT over so many months is defensive, delusional, paranoid, aggressive, inept mood regulation, poor executive functioning, and dark narcissism. This makes me feel angry.

Human beings are far more alike than different. While my intensity is probably on a continuum, it is still fair to say that my clinical practice is reflecting the escalating anxiety we all likely feel, either more or less- while the intensity certainly varies, anxiety is very much THERE in my treatment office! One can extrapolate anxiety is pronounced globally as well.

Anxiety has a contagion like any emotion. I believe at this moment in American history, we are experiencing emotional shockwaves, the likes of which have not been seen the Civil War, World Wars, or 9/11.

Yet it is different. It is not political-it is about fitness for the unique stressors and capacity to remain calm that defines a president. America is in deep trouble. We have a deranged man steering a ship already wounded and it is scarier every day. We have a president with the emotional maturity of a defiant adolescent who finds it exciting and sportlike to stir things up-with global, lethal potential as an outcome. Hang on tight. My fellow Americans, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

Barbara Cunningham, Psy.D., LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist)
 

 
As a clinical social worker and former mental health director I diagnosed and treated countless patients before I retired a few years ago.  I diagnosed Trump, obviously from afar, as having a complex constellation of serious mental disorders making him unfit to be president starting in April.  I would like to address one aspect of Trump’s mental health profile that, considering how impulsive he is and how much he enjoys bullying, this may be the most dangerous. I think he has many of the characteristics of paranoid personality disorder. It is easy to find examples of at least three of the following.
 
Consider this list:

The World Health Organization‘s ICD-10 lists paranoid personality disorder as (F60.0) Paranoid personality disorder.[7]

It is characterized by at least three of the following:

  1. excessive sensitivity to setbacks and rebuffs;
  2. tendency to bear grudges persistently, i.e. refusal to forgive insults and injuries or slights;
  3. suspiciousness and a pervasive tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous;
  4. a combative and tenacious sense of personal rights out of keeping with the actual situation;
  5. recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding sexual fidelity of spouse or sexual partner;
  6. tendency to experience excessive self-importance, manifest in a persistent self-referential attitude;
  7. preoccupation with unsubstantiated “conspiratorial” explanations of events both immediate to the patient and in the world at large.
 
 
Our conclusion is that whether you use euphemisms like unhinged to describe his behavior or psychological jargon, the bottom line is that his ingrained personality characteristics, or his mental illness makes him unfit, and even dangerous, to be president.
 
Hal Brown, MSW, Clinical Social Worker
 

I am asking Congress to Fish or Cut Bait.

 There were 6 questions I had that collectively were troubling to me. 1. Apparent lack of empathy. 2. Splitting the World into those who are with-him and those against-him (a malignant form of Splitting). 3. An apparent inability to regulate his feelings or to control acting on his impulses. 4. A willingness and articulated intent to make enormously large corrections to US policy precipitously (NATO, EPA, ENERGY, EDUCATION, IMMIGRATION), in the name of his position as “the only one who knows). 5. An apparent monomania and inability to see nuance positions on controversial ideas. 6. Again, an apparent inability to distinguish fact from wish, wishes from truth, symbol from the thing-in-itself.  

Security, in individual situations that might need evaluation by Homeland Security or in the situation of a leader’s Fitness For Service, we err on the conservative side which means taking action in the presence of likely dangers. We don’t mess with a 5% chance of Nuclear War … We don’t fool around with a pipeline that has a 5% chance of contaminating large swaths of land or waterways.

The Russians learned in the Urals that we don’t bury low-level nuclear wastes in a Mountain under concrete if there’s a decent chance it will someday become the world’s hithertoo biggest dirty bomb (see, Medvedev’s Disaster in the Urals) … and we don’t arm a man with WMD’s if he displays the above 6 characteristics until the experts have deemed him safe.

And, finally, I argue that it is not a matter of diagnosis, per se, … not this one! Not another! but rather whether there is reason to believe based on the professional communities testing methods whether there is even a small (again, say, 5%) chance of an Administration blowing up in our face and taking the World with it. 

Howard Covitz, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Psychoanalyst

Trump and his supporters stole the election as reported in The Huffington Post. That report is but the tip of the iceberg.

There is an abundance of evidence that should lead to his impeachment. Most obvious though is the gross disorganization and turmoil in his administration. It is essentially run by a former participant in the Breitbart news organization, Steve Bannon. His public apologist Kellyanne Conway is an inveterate liar almost as egregious as Trump is himself. Although he is a farce he remains in office to serve the interests of the Republican party.

Had President Obama behaved as does Donald Trump he would have been impeached within hours. Trump’s egregious misconduct could easily be regarded as dereliction of duty by most standards. He is erratic, self centered, a chronic unashamed liar and sexual predator. His vile comments about women should not only embarrass him but lead to a call for his resignation. Yet, he continues in office supported by greedy politicians who seek to exploit him. He enthralls many with his crude manner and predatory treatment of women creating the impression that he is a bully who doesn’t hear “No!”

That segment of our fellow citizenry whom Hillary called the “basket of deplorables” supports him. They are bullies and braggarts, ne’er do wells who see in him one of them. As one of his competitors for the nomination said, “He is a chaos candidate.”

He appeals though with his scorn for convention. Both a bully and boaster, a con man and a crook he refuses to release his tax returns. He ignores the emoluments clause by allowing and even encouraging his family members to literally steal money from the government.

Were I to use the diagnostic framework for psychiatrists I would diagnose him as a psychopath, a thug and predator, a con man and a “chaos” president.

He will continue to create utter havoc, stir domestic turmoil and destroy our alliances with other Nations expecting them to be cowed with his belligerence and bullying. He will succeed only in being regarded as a buffoon and a fool yet still the hero for many even though he is a con man and a crook.

As a citizen of the United States of America, a former medic in the Army reserves and a psychologist/psychoanalyst who doesn’t like severe character disorders running our Nation I dearly hope he will be impeached.

Siebolt Frieswyk, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Psychoanlysist

As a retired therapist with a Masters in art therapy and 8+ years working on psych units and locked wards, I have gained familiarity with personality disorders (sadly, most were of the parents of the teens hospitalized for suicide attempts). And I also (unfortunately) had two long, difficult encounters with Narcissistic Personality disordered employers in non-profit organizations, so I have witnessed this up close and continually. I have no doubt that Trump would be diagnosed with this disorder, and I have enough daily experience with NPD to feel certain that he will not willingly admit he’s out of his depths. Indeed, it is a symptom of NPD to lie pathologically, and to break laws to cover one’s tracks (both the bosses I had were defrauding donors for $thousands). In fact, one of the reasons I see NPD rather than dementia is that he tries to cover up — only some who knows (on some level) he’s doing wrong will work so hard to cover up.

NPD is unworkable, in the sense that you can get the person to “promise” to change — and it doesn’t happen. You can’t negotiate with someone who will change their mind the next minute. The only solution is to remove the person from power. Continual scrutiny and pressure might get him to “quit” — but he could turn around and demand to reclaim the job, without any sense of shame. He must be removed, because he is dangerously unstable. On top of that, he has the entitlement and detachment from ordinary life that most rich people have — a bad combination.

I believe his “handlers” are pushing for an autocracy at the least (dictatorship at worst) and use him as their front. But it’s like having a loaded, faulty gun. There is no way to know when it will go off, or in what direction. And by the time the damage is done, it will be too late. I suspect the Republicans have seen even worse behavior from Trump than we have, so it is a measure of their depravity that they continue to cover for such a sick man.

Cathy M.

From Overseas

And here is my conclusion. Trump is a president in a high position, which requires from him an outstanding behaviour. This is just being human, being able to listen, to have patience, to answer or even say but in a normal way, “this I do not answer”. But it is to the degree of immoral behaviour, when you make everyone around you feel like he is your opponent, even not noticing that he is trying to convey his supportive disposition to you…

So trump is just being rude, he did not have an answer on the question, had no patience or a loving ear to listen to a question brought in front of him, and by this behaviour he breaks down the self esteem of people around him, breaks their freedom of speech, causes emotional confusion and silencing the natural Will of the person next to him… The Victim on his term, living under a constant fear of this kind of terror, just obeys him, tries to avoid any collision with him, trying to keep him in a good mood…making himself into “a good Soldier” following orders… at a certain point the victim even “understands” and even pities the Patient: “it is very unfair what is been done to him and i understand why he is so defensive”, and now from soldier he even takes on the task of an understanding therapist, “understanding” that even the president is aloud to be rude, disgraceful, insulting, brutal, because the poor man is so committed, and the people who do not see that, and ask questions aggravate him and he feels hurt…

What should be researched now is the following:

Many around Trump know he can not function as a president. The main question is:
Who wants to keep him as a cover up for what they in the meantime are doing behind his back and the back of the nation, while everyone’s attention is kept on the clown having his fun show?

Who are they, and what are they doing, while our attention is held by a Malignant Narcissist who want all the attention in the world, and gets it?

Trump is for sure a danger to this world, but we also have to find those who are even more dangerous, those who are hiding behind his back and using him to hide what they are doing.

Margaret Laufer is from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 30 years working with groups and individuals on self development, also with teachers and parents: educating yourself, as basis for educating your child. She worked as therapist, wrote the book ‘Concentration’, working from the basis of Anthroposofie, and is what is called a healing pedagog. She is writing a medical book on the human organs in relation to the body, soul and spirit.

What I would say is that due to Trump’s pathological lying and erratic behavior he, at the very least, needs to be examined by specialists.

I’m not a US citizen and cannot vote in the States. I did, however, graduate in the States, so I care about this even more. Also, I do see this as a global issue. This man can bring us to WW3, and that’s why I’m talking about this. It’s a global issue and should be treated as such.

The world should put pressure on Congress, for this is beyond USA, as is clear by how many diplomatic problems Trump has already created globally.

Mateja Klaric, BA, Psychology, Grief Counselor

Slovenia

Each aspect of the quartet of “malignant narcissism,” Gartner said, is part of a diagnosis in the DSM. For all diagnoses, the DSM offers a summary topic sentence, followed by a list of criteria, and a person must meet some minimum number of these criteria to be diagnosed. Gartner had these at his fingertips and walked me through an example of antisocial disorder, which he asserted is the most serious of the quartet that he thinks Trump manifests. As he stepped through each criterion, Gartner cited examples of Trump’s behavior that he has observed—that anyone can have observed, he said—and concluded that with many such examples, Trump does in fact meet the criteria for this disorder.

And Gartner went a step further. “I doubt that interviewing Donald Trump would give them (a professional) a lot of information,” he said. “He runs circles around people, changes topic, never answers questions, I’m not sure that they would get a good deal” more from him. But, he argued, “We have tons of information about his behavior, his words, people who know him well, who have observed his behavior … we have so much information that it is screamingly obvious that he meets these diagnostic criteria.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos