By Dr David Laing Dawson
It has become a pastime for some of us, to try to understand the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and a pastime for others to try to stop him from gaining the Presidency.
There are moments, it seems, in which he simply lacks a filter. What comes to his mind is spoken. Spoken without consideration of context, of purpose, of audience, of historical and present taboos, manners, etiquette.
Everybody occasionally makes that slip. Every politician, in a lifetime of public service, makes that slip at least once, and then has to explain, and apologize, and sometimes resign.
Clinically there are people who not only never make that slip, but punish themselves for bad thoughts, or who must undo the thought through a ritual. And others who cannot enter the simplest social conversation without first rehearsing their words. This is the problem of OCD. It is a treatable condition. Would that Donald Trump had a little of this problem.
At the opposite end, clinically, are people who blurt out whatever is on their minds. Some of these have ADD. The words are said, the deed is done, before the brain can say, “Wait a minute, this might not be a good idea.”
The autistic spectrum produces a problem reading social context, but usually with an accompanying anxiety that is protective. Still, some on the spectrum have rudely pointed out my double chin, asked about my age. Others can obsess and rant about a subject of no interest to the listener.
Manics, under a pressure of speech, may step close and make an inappropriate personal remark, a comment on age, breath, body odor, or sexual parts. Though usually their thoughts are elsewhere, pondering grander questions.
People with psychotic illness, struggling to create a usable mental map of the world, can sometimes spout racist theories and generalizations that make their caregivers blanch.
Well, The Donald is not manic, nor psychotic, nor autistic. He could have some ADD (attention deficit disorder). He is bored easily, easily distracted, not known to concentrate for long on any problem, uninterested in detail, and, in a sense, quite creative. He also speaks as a teenager with ADD. Seldom can he start a sentence and bring it to logical closure without an insert or two, these inserts often derailing the original intention of the sentence.
In one of his recent gaffes, he hinted that a gun owner might limit the Presidency of Hilary Clinton. It was almost possible to read his thoughts, and watch his brain struggle to forge his original thought into something appropriate for this audience.
He is speaking. He tells us if Hilary is elected she will pick Supreme Court Judges opposed to the second amendment. “No way of stopping her folks.” And then he has the thought, “unless a gun owner shoots her”. This thought must come out. He struggles for a split second and manages to obscure it just a little, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.”
So, he has ADD.
That alone might not disqualify him from being President. Others can handle the details, keep him on schedule and on time, debrief him briefly, channel his energy and his charisma, write his speeches for him, teach him to say no comment and smile enigmatically. That is if he is smart enough and generous enough to let himself be guided.
But in the last few days he announced that Barack Hussein Obama was the founder of ISIS. He blurts this out, likes the reaction he gets, and runs with it. He does manage an explanation that Obama pulling troops out of Iraq so quickly left a vacuum that ISIS filled, then having strained his brain with someone else’s more complex explanation, he jumps back to the word “founder”.
Finally he relents, and tweets, “They don’t get sarcasm?”
So, we have another clue to the puzzle. He is only semi-literate. Calling Obama the founder of ISIS is not sarcasm. Sarcasm is saying, “That Obama, he sure made short work of ISIS.” It might have required a knowing smile and an “Eh? Eh?” at the end. That would be sarcasm. I wonder if he understands irony and double entendre and tongue-in-cheek.
So with his juvenile sentence structure, his limited vocabulary, and his failure to understand sarcasm, I have to conclude he is just not very smart.
So now we have ADD, semi-literacy, and room temperature IQ.
Even then, if he were a generous soul, a selfless soul, a man of great principle with an altruistic nature, he might be okay. Forrest Gump for president.
But there is more to this man as we know. He is insufferably narcissistic. His hair, his painted tan, his constant boasting, his angry reaction to any perceived slight.
And he is more than a little sociopathic. His empathy for others is very limited. His ability to anticipate the consequences of his words and actions is limited. He does not appear to suffer any doubts, any anxiety, nor any regrets. The fault always resides with others.
So there it is. A candidate for President who is:
- Attention Deficit Disordered
- Not especially smart
- More than a little Sociopathic.
I do not want this man to have control over anything that might affect my life, my family, my city, my Province, my country, or my world.
Note: Writing the above, because I am a psychiatrist and Donald Trump is not my patient and has not given me permission – writing the above could be considered unethical. However, between a small ethical violation and the safety of the planet, the choice is simple.