- Alan J. Lipman: Donald Trump, throughout his career, has been noted for his inability to tolerate disagreement
- He is guided by impulse, the search for praise and vengeance, and the wish for personal grandiosity, Lipman says
As a clinical psychologist, I have worked with many narcissists over the past 30 years, and have taught how to detect and treat such behavior. That's why it isn't hard for me to spot some of the signs, even from a distance, in Donald Trump.
For a start, there is the severe inability to focus on consequences other than those which directly affect him. There is a significant lack of empathy for the nation, and the impact that personal decisions made in rage would have upon the nation and its citizens. There is also the impulsivity with which Trump makes decisions of sweeping consequence, as well as the inability, even with the most stringent preparation, to prevent eruptions. All of this suggests narcissism. And together these traits make the candidate profoundly unfit for the Presidency.
The reality is that being president requires both discipline and self-discipline. Given the constant flow of expected and unexpected events that beset a president -- crises, demands, new threats and circumstances demanding immediate yet thoughtful and informed response -- he or she must have the ability to focus on each new situation without being distracted by personal slights, arguments and vendettas.
Trump, though, has shown himself to be markedly impulsive, to the point that those who have worked with him have reportedly found it difficult to guide him
to focus on essential preparations and learning. This belies the much touted idea by supporters that he would be guided by experts. He is instead guided by impulse, the search for praise and vengeance, and the wish for personal grandiosity.
Trump's ever-present need for praise, meanwhile, makes him extremely vulnerable to manipulation; look to his response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions
. Of greater significance is his draw to conflict. Once engaged, he finds it extraordinarily difficult to pull back for fear of a loss of perceived power, a trait that would be easily provoked in a host of foreign and domestic policy situations.
In addition, the presidency requires knowledge of foreign and domestic policy, of American and foreign systems of governance, history and culture, and of the essentials of American civic law. Yet Trump, by his own admission
-- with the exception of his ghostwritten work
-- does not like to read. He has shown his degree, level, and depth of knowledge of American governance in the apparent citation of Constitutional articles that do not exist
; in emphatically asserting that Russia is not in Ukraine
; and in stating that he would jail his opponent.
Such threats to his opponent point to another deficiency in Trump's personality. The presidency requires the ability to tolerate and synthesize disagreement -- to forge highly different and conflicting points of view into actions that are best for the nation, even if they differ from one's own. Indeed, the capacity to listen to strongly held differing opinions, without rage at disagreement is critical to forging effective decisions and policy.