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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Is Trump a sociopath?

In July of 2015 I said that Donald Trump was not a sociopath because he was so artless with his lies. (Smart sociopaths tend to make good liars, not lousy ones.) Two days ago I used pretty much the same logic to say the same thing again.

In response, commenter Alter Ego replied: 

"Even when it was apparent that his inaugural crowd wasn't larger than Obama's, Trump had to insist that it was. . . . And in a roundabout way, it shows he's not a sociopath."

So Trump tells an easily refutable lie about the size of his inauguration crowd (not to mention the bit about 3M people voting illegally) and that's proof that he's NOT a sociopath?? You lost me there, John.

I replied: 

Good question. What I'm referring to is the STYLE of his lies; they're more childlike, more pathetic in a way. It's almost as if he's an Aspie. I've known people with Aspergers who will lie in the most transparent way, insisting on something being true (or untrue) when it's not, and the feeling you get from them is that they think if they say it, it will be so. I've known two different Aspies who would say something, and then a minute later deny having said it. It's pathetic, and they're fooling no one, but they do it anyway. That seems to be Trump's style of lying. He's INCAPABLE of admitting that he's not the best at something, just the way he's INCAPABLE of not responding when someone insults him, no matter how much it makes him look as if he's punching down (against a Kizr Khan, or an Alicia Machado, or an Alec Baldwin, for example). A sociopath would be much more slyly manipulative, much more aware of how to polish his public image, much better at appearing "noble" and "gracious" while sticking the knife in.

The Aspies I know who've lied like that are definitely not sociopaths; for the most part, they're straightforward and honest. And when they lie, they're more pathetic than scary. Trump's lies are more the former; it comes across more as if he thinks that if he says it, it's true.

Having said this, I don't think Trump is an Aspie, either. And I have to admit, I've said in the past that the second surest sign of sociopathy is pathological lying (the first is serial killing). 

And Trump does seem to stretch the truth on a regular basis; this article provides one good example.

So, I have to ask myself, am I giving Trump the benefit of the doubt just because I agree with his platform? Was I so overjoyed to see him defeat Hillary that I refuse to see the bad in him?

I don't think I am. I certainly haven't been averse to making fun of him. I compared him to Goldfinger here, put him in a competition with el Chapo here, have pointed out that he has ADHD, and in yesterday's post I basically called him a fatso. 

But if I were to claim to be without bias, that would just prove what a fool I am, as we all have biases. And to not strongly consider the possibility that a billionaire who becomes President might not be a sociopath would be the height of naivete. 

But let's take a closer look. Last month I posted a fairly extensive list of the flags which tend to indicate sociopathy. Look through them again, I see a few traits which Trump can be said to have:

He doesn't get nervous or flustered, as shown by his performance in the various debates last year. 

His lying could be a sign, as mentioned above.

Another red flag I listed was that they "often think they are fooling people when they are not. If someone tells you an obvious lie, and acts as if he expects you to believe him, beware." Trump does act as if he expects people to believe him when he lies. 

And there's another red flag which Trump may or may not wave: to respond with "uninhibited viciousness when it comes to those who anger them." It's true that Trump never lets an insult go unavenged (with a return insult); but, he generally leaves it at that. (Sociopaths usually escalate.)

There are also many signs that Trump is not a sociopath. He speaks well of his parents. He has good relationships with his kids, all of whom seem to have turned out well, not a drug addict in the bunch. More impressive, he even has good relationships with his ex-wives, both of whom endorsed him for President. (Very, very few sociopaths have good relationships with their exes.)

And while the NY Times turned up a few people from The Apprentice who said that Trump had commented on various women's sexual appeal, the vast majority of his former employees seem to like him. (And if commenting on a woman's appearance is a sign of sociopathy, then the incidence of sociopathy is far, far higher than 3% of the population.)

Trump is given to spontaneous acts of generosity, as documented here. More tellingly, he didn't seem to do them for the positive publicity they might have generated. (Contrast this to the typical rich sociopath whose every gift is well advertised.) And while he stretches the truth about things like the height of his apartment buildings or the number of people who attended his inauguration, he doesn't seem to make up lies out of whole cloth.

And, he never exhibits the emotional falsity that characterizes so many sociopaths. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because the media accuses him of lying, that doesn't mean that he's actually lying. Often the MSM simply wants to cover up the truth. When Trump said that Mexico is not sending us their best, it may not have been diplomatic, but it's true. And when he said that Europe is a "mess" because of all the unwanted immigrants, again, it may not be a pretty sentiment, but it's true. When he said that there was probably a lot of voter fraud in this past election, the MSM immediately responded by saying that those suspicions had been "debunked." But how could they possibly have been debunked without a full investigation?

So, in fact, Trump lies far less often than you'd think from just reading the New York Times and its ilk. And bear in mind, being blunt is in fact the opposite of being dishonest.

A lot of people -- even a few who are regular commenters on this blog -- seem to be getting the impression that Trump is a sociopath from the MSM, which on a daily basis does its utmost to paint a picture of him as Adolf, Jr. And even when you realize how slanted the MSM is, sometimes it's hard not to be influenced by their constant onslaught.

Okay, so where does the lying come from? I don't think Trump's an Aspie, and I don't think he's a sociopath. The best explanation I can come up with is that it's an outgrowth of his narcissism, possibly spurred on by a strong sense of insecurity. In the same way that most narcissists can't own up to a mistake, Trump can't admit that he's not the best at everything, which, in his mind, would be admitting that he's wrong.

Look at old clips of him talking about his various real estate projects. Everything is "the best," "world class," "first rate," and so on. To him, anything less would be shameful, and that's something he has a hard time dealing with. He's also obsessed with winning, and to admit a loss would also be tantamount to admitting that he's wrong, as well.

So, we're left with half-truths and exaggerations.

Remember, Trump doesn't engage in sport lying (lying for the pleasure of fooling people). And when he tars his opponents, he sticks to the truth, even if that's somewhat subjective, and even if he does hit below the belt at times. It's only when people question him: the height of his buildings, or the number of people who showed up for his inauguration, that he is prone to exaggeration.

A sociopath never goes out of character. He may pretend to be something he's not, but the pretense never lasts long, and in any case doesn't stands up to close examination. If Trump is a sociopath, he's spending most of his time out of character. And that just doesn't square with sociopathy.

Anyway, for now, I'm going to say Trump is a very narcissistic personality, but not a sociopath. It's possible I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. 


7 foot 2 said...

One thing with Trump is that the pastor of the church he was brought up in was big promoter of the power of the power of posive thinking and apparently his dad believed in it and encouraged Trump to think this way. The other is that Nixon used to lie about numbers so that the press would correct him i.e. saying blacks commit 93 percent of crime and having the press say you lied it's only 85 percent. youu get to make your point twice and your enimies look petty. Trumps political mentors were nixon people and thease are the kinds of fibs that Trump makes. knowing thease things and that man will always stick up for his brand and i think it becomes easy to know where hes coming from with any given statement.

Anonymous said...

I am a psychopath. I was always told that. And besides the diagnosis, it really is true anyway.

Allow me to make the mystical assertion (it is a GREAT RULE OF LIFE) that "we know our own," which applies to virtually every subgroup of folks.

As a psychopath, Trump does not call out to me as being a brother psychopath at all. There are many reasons, let me give one. Psychopaths LIKE TO SCREW UP. We will do things right for a while, to show we can do it. but then we will screw up, to show we can handle that, too. A psychopath has a commitment to dealing with disaster, it is his one true love, a psychopath cannot act right for too long no matter what the rewards are. Just can't be arsed, as the British say.

Now Donald is just not enough of a fuck-up. A psychopath has legendary appalling episodes by the time he is twenty or so. Donald reached age 70 with no trail of wreckage behind him. (His divorces and bankruptcies are very small and minor compared to what a psychopath with money would have created, trust me.) Donald is normal, he is missing the essence of a psychopath, the cosmic "NO I WON'T" to all things. He is not ungovernably perverse.
====Fake Baba

John Craig said...

Fake Baba --
You're a sociopath??? I'm not 100% that you're being serious, but, assuming you are, that's a shock. I'm actually 90% based on your analysis, though, it rings true. Anyway, you aside, what you say is true. Sociopaths will often soar high, but then they always seem to manage to find a way to bring it all crashing down.

"Trail of wreckage," "ungovernably perverse," well put.

On the other hand, there do seem to be some sociopaths who, somehow, stay afloat. I consider both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to be sociopaths, and both now occupy exalted positions. Of course, some of that has to do with the power of the media; no matter how each screwed up, the media basically just either de-emphasized or outright covered up for them.

Now, back to Fake Baba: I'm surprised poured this anti-sociopath blog. And, looking back, I'm beginning to wonder if I wasn't somehow subtly -- or perhaps not so subtly -- being mocked in some of your comments. I mean, I appreciate all of your comments, but my guard just went up.

Lucian Lafayette said...

The "trail of wreckage" comment is telling. Stories abound of Trump taking care of employees, dealing fairly with business partners, etc. Now, we can always hypothesize about some super self-aware psychopath who adroitly masks his every move but I suspect that only occurs in the fantasy world's of Hollywood and the old-school news outlets.

Trump is an abrasive, coarse, braggart who might be a little insecure at times but he doesn't look like (in my non-MD opinion) a real psychopath.

John Craig said...

Luke --
If you believe Hollywood's version of what sociopaths are like, half the time they're lovable, kindhearted guys like Robert Redford and Paul Newman in "The Sting" or charming rascals like Leo DiCaprio in "Catch Me if You Can."

Your characterization of Trump is perfect.

Anonymous said...

No, Mister Craig, I am not mocking you.

If I didn't like you, I wouldn't be in your room.

I am not asking for money.

I am not doing anything bad.

You might think I overpraise you, but, it's more that I have a juvenile, florid, atrociously self-indulgent writing style.But besides big goofy compliments, I have also offered you strong normal compliments.

But anyways, forget about gauging my intent, look at my results. Far as I can tell, I am working for you for free, bringing you small, odd nuggets, that (you are the one who is to judge) might slightly contribute to the richness and success of this here blog project of yours. Plus I post links to your blog, elsewhere in my travels.

Anyways DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY, heehee.
====Fake Baba

John Craig said...

Fake Baba --
You're right, every single thing you've said, and (evidently) every action you've taken has made you my (virtual) friend. And I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever. But now that you've come out of the closet, so to speak, you'll have to forgive me if I now have my guard up. (After all I've written about sociopaths, I'd be hypocritical, not to mention incredibly naive, if I did not.)

This whole episode is interesting, because sociopaths so rarely come out of the closet, though of course this is an entirely different situation, since you're not using your real name. A philosophical question: if someone tells you he's not a sociopath, do you believe him? The answer to that is you have eno idea, of course, because a nonsociopath would say that, but so would a sociopath. So the corollary becomes, if someone tells you he's a sociopath, do you believe him? Well, a non sociopath would theoretically never say that, but a sociopath rarely would, either. But I suppose being online changes the rules.

BTW, I just noticed a typo in my previous reply to you: "poured" was supposed to be "you'd read."

Your description of your writing style actually is sort of convincing: it's completely uninhibited, just as one expects a sociopath to be. And you're amusing and charming, just as one would expect a sociopath to be. And I have basked in your compliments in the past, though now your skill at such strikes me as just a tad manipulative. (I'm not suggesting you're doing anything bad, merely demonstrating your skill at such.)

Anyway, I appreciate all your comments, and I hadn't realized you'd linked to my blog elsewhere, for that I'm definitely grateful. And I'll continue to enjoy your comments in the future, though perhaps I'll see them in a somewhat different light.

As far as your parting advice, I'm afraid it's lost on me: it's not in my nature NOT to worry, nor is it my nature to be particularly happy.

Actually, I have a question for you: what do you think caused you to be a sociopath? Was it your family background, or do you think it was organic? (I rarely get a chance to ask that question.)

Anonymous said...

I forgot to tell you what first attracted me to your blog, heehee. I am a vicious racist (a psychopath wouldn't mind being one, right?),and so I just love to see a normal decent person who is willing to say the OBVIOUS, TRUE, yet FORBIDDEN things that I agree with.

As to the rest, I actually have to go help a sick friend right now. No joke. I don't like to talk about myself too much, anyways. What's the use?
====Fake Baba

John Craig said...

Fake Baba --
As a sociopath you're more honest than most when it comes to race. But I've actually known, and known of, a few sociopaths who were far more honest about race than most non-sociopaths. (David Duke, for one, and he was honest about this stuff way, way before people started gaining the courage of their convictions through the internet.) It takes a certain nerve to speak out about this stuff. (Not in my case, with me it's more a matter of a cranky old guy no longer caring enough about his social standing to not be honest about these things.)

And there will come a day when people will wonder why everyone was so incredibly skittish about telling the truth about these things.

Okay, I'll accept your demurral (not that I have any choice).

mark said...

Am I reading this right? Trump isn't a sociopath because he is too dumb. Not very comforting. I am basically a small T Trump fan but the dude is weird. I read an Atlantic profile of Trump that emphasized his lack of agreeableness. Fan of John Craig but you are going easy on Trump. Now, one thing I do like about Trump is that he doesn't give ground and will take a lot of abuse. I wish he was a little smarter about things so some of the abuse he wouldn't have to take.

John Craig said...

Mark --
No, you're not reading it right. One of the clues is that his lying is artless, but the rest is that the pattern of his life and relationships, especially his family relationships, don't show sociopathy.

Unknown said...

Dr Phil for once proves useful.

John Craig said...

Gambino --
That was great. Dr. Phil came across really well and I found myself agreeing with everything he said. He was right on target. And that Joy Behar is such an overbearing, obnoxious witch; all I could think as he was reading that list of characteristics is that she has all of them, far more than Trump does. And as I said in this post, I think Trump is a narcissist, too. The other thing about Behar that's so off-putting is that she's so sure of herself, so sure that all of her opinions must be right. She was undoubtedly a big supporter of Hillary's, and Hillary was an outright sociopath, and yet Behar would never have admitted that.

Anonymous said...

I think you have Trump pegged correctly. He's not a sociopath. To me, he's a hoot. He has a job that I wouldn't want, being President of this country. He and his family have taken a LOT of abuse from the media, politicians, celebrities, etc. Many people can see through the bias of the MSM and the members of Congress and/or the Senate. They don't accomplish anything of value, doing what's best for the country - instead, they play games, keeping our country at a standstill, arguing over ridiculous, asinine things. At this time in history, the Democrats are a destructive, headache inducing, useless force.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
Thank you. Couldn't agree more about the bias of the MSM. They're all about skewing the news, these days it's worse than ever.