When I started this blog, I was intending to give reasons why Trump’s overseas and domestic interests do not allow him to operate as president, that he is breaking every norm there. I was going to explain the problems that caused, and that he should not be allowed to be president. And that he, frankly, doesn’t seem to understand how a president is supposed to function, or that he cannot keep making the sort of off-the-cuff decisions he is making.

And I might eventually get back to that, because the Republican do, indeed, need to take some blame for electing someone with such major conflicts, and we need to make sure it can’t happen again.

Unfortunately, it has become increasing clear that this is not the main reason that Trump should not be president. It has become increasingly clear, a week into this presidency, that Trump is suffering from a mental illness.

I say this not as some attempt to disgrace or shame Trump. Mental illness is not a weakness, or the fault of the person who has it. If anything, this should cause people to re-evaluate some of their previous thoughts about Trump, because a good deal of his behavior is probably not under his control.

Anyway, the very, very obvious diagnosis of Trump is narcissistic personality disorder. I am not the first person to point this out, but I believe it need saying, repeatedly, so that Congress can be convinced they have to do something about it.

To quote Wikipedia:

According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments:

  1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
  2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
  4. Needing constant admiration from others
  5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
  8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  9. Pompous and arrogant demeanor

Now, there’s a few problems here when trying to apply this to Trump specifically.

The first is ‘without commensurate qualities or accomplishments’. Trump, arguably has some accomplishment. Not as many as people like to pretend, in fact, large portion of his supposed accomplishments are made up. (That is for a later piece.) But he does have some accomplishments.

And #2 is a screwy test. Can you have fantasies of success or power when you actually have success and power?

Likewise, it is easy to get bogged down in #1, ‘expectations of superior treatment’ and #5, ‘sense of entitlement’. He is rich, he pays for superior treatment, he obviously expects it when he pays for it and feel entitled to it…and since he paid for it, who of us can argue he’s not entitled to it?

And we’ll have trouble with #6. He is, undeniably, exploitative of others, he has failed to pay this bills many times, and his sole experience with operating a public company consisted of him offloading his personal debts onto it as fast as  possible and destroying stockholder value. But someone will probably argue that’s just ‘being a good businessman’.

Additionally, #3 basically is his entire brand. He is the perfect example of ‘new money’ building giant edifices and putting his name on it in gold. He absurdly tries to sell horrible steaks at at the Sharper Image.  This is incredibly tacky, and somewhat silly, but it can be argued it’s just a brand.

So now we’ve explained away 5 of those nine things. They are, basically beliefs that are supposed to be ‘delusions’ of people with NPD, but they either are true of Trump, or he has a financial interest in pretending are true. So here is the list:

  1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
  2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
  4. Needing constant admiration from others
  5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
  8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  9. Pompous and arrogant demeanor

But, to flip an expression on its head, it is entirely possible to be suffering from paranoid delusions even if the CIA is following you around, and it likewise possible to be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder even if you are an important person.

In fact, if you are rich, and suffer from NPD,  it’s less likely to be diagnosed, because large parts of  it match ‘normal rich asshole behavior’.


So let’s look at the other stuff. Things that Trump does that do not benefit him. Things that hinder his goals and people’s image of him. That is not normal rich asshole behavior.

And #9, ‘Pompous and arrogant demeanor’ is a giant flashing warning light. We not only saw it during the election, we all talked about it. Everyone admitted it. Trump simply could not tone down his arrogance. He had to be ‘kept on script’. Likewise,  Trump had a very strange New Years tweet  of ‘Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love.’ This is not a normal holiday wish, nor does it appear to advance Trump’s agenda as a president elect, which basically should be ‘Becoming as popular as he can be before taking office so he has political capital to spend’. (See my previous post about how he does not understand political capital, but even if he doesn’t, it’s hard to figure out why he thinks alienating people can help him. This is because he must classify all those who dislike him as not-really-people, because of #4, see below.)

And pompous is a fun test here. Trump is pompous, he’s just pompous with a very small vocabulary, which is why his speech sounds so weird. ‘Big league’ (What Trump is saying when people think he’s saying ‘bigly’, and, BTW, continuing to say words you know  everyone misunderstands is very pompous.) is a very pompous way of saying thing. So is ‘believe me’. He also wanders into bizarre metaphors, another sign of pomposity. It’s hard to identify what is wrong with his speech as ‘pompous’, but a few people have noticed. (The chairman of NBC, famously, called him pompous and demented.)

(And, yes, I know I am a bit pompous, too, especially in my writing. I am not saying pomposity is a bad thing…just that it is a symptom of NPD. A lot of these are not ‘bad things’, they are just symptoms.)

And now, #8. Intense envy, and belief that others are envious of him. This is something we tend to ignore when Trump speaks, but it’s all over the place. He constantly talks about how people think about him, and this has two modes…they either love him because he’s so awesome, or they are jealous of him because he’s so awesome.

And now we get to the two real points. First, #7. I could point to his comments about women, but treating women as objects is a sadly common thing, so instead I point to his attacks on the Khans, the Gold Star parents who spoke up at the DNC. He had previously criticized Muslims who did not speak up about terrorism, here was a Muslim family that had a son got off and fight in a war that was nominally connected to terrorism, he should have said ‘You guys are some of the goods ones, and clearly not who I’m talking about. We need more Muslims like you.’

That would have been a reasonable response. Instead, he responded, well, like a crazy person, starting a war with them.

This is because he took their comments as an attack, and now we get to the last point, the one that is perhaps the most clear of all, the thing you only find in people with narcissistic personality disorder:

#4, needing constant admiration from others. This is the root of most of his problems.

Trump, from what has leaked from his administration, saw comparisons last weekend between his inauguration crowd size and Obama’s.

Now, there were plenty of responses to this. One, he could make some comment about how Obama’s election was more historic than his and he can’t begrudge people wanting to see the first black president, whereas he’s just another white guy. (But, admit it, you can’t see that sort of self-deprecating humor from him, can you?)

Or two, he could have explained how Washington DC is a very Democratic town and Obama’s inauguration probably had a lot of locals. That would have been a bit petty from the President, he probably should have surrogates spread it instead of him, but whatever.

Or, three, he could just ignore it. What the hell does he care? The inauguration isn’t a popularity contest.

Trump, instead, has spent a week debating the press, or sending people out to debate the press, about this. (And, to repeat, his behavior on this part is so erratic that his own administration is leaking this.)

This is because Trump, quite clearly, cannot take criticism. At all.


And this is a much more serious probably than it sounds. When we say a person cannot take criticism, what we normally mean is they don’t take it well. They yell, or sulk, or lash out.

But when we say someone with thought disorder cannot take criticism, we mean that they refuse to allow it into their brain. It is, basically, a mild form of delusion. They refuse to process anything that would appear to make them feel shame, make them feel lesser.

This is, incidentally, why he has so much trouble with the truth. Why he lies even when it doesn’t fool anyone.

Donald Trump is literally unsure of the truth most of the time. Not because he wants to be, or because he is stupid, but because he cannot process the truth if the truth involves something that will make him feel ashamed. Note by ‘shame’, I do not mean ‘guilt’…I mean any sort of shame. Any sort of failure.

His brain will not allow those things in his head. He says whatever he thinks will make the people he is currently talking to admire him. Whatever he currently thinks that is, he will say it. He cannot not say it, because he must have admiration. He talks to people not to communicate information to them, but to get them to respond to him with admiration.

Again, this is not, in any manner, malicious on his part. I don’t know if he’s aware something’s wrong there, but even if he is, he cannot control it.

This is why he does stuff that are obviously lies, like that time he paraded out his table of Trump brands, including things like Trump Steaks…which did not actually exist anymore, and he had buy some other steaks and stick a label on them. This was a lie, it was an obvious lie that got caught in ten seconds, but it was a lie that made him feel good.

And this is not ‘feel good’ like in hot shower. This is ‘feel good’ like in that bottle of bourbon the alcoholic has stashed at the back of his desk drawer. This is ‘feel good’ like that bet the compulsive gambler just placed. This is a actual, specific need of Trump’s.

Trump must, at all times, have people approving of what he does.

We will see if he managed to figure out how to ignore whatever amount of the population is attacking him. If he cannot, he is going to rapidly burn out, perhaps even the point of a mental break.

And, as we more forward, things will continue to happen his brain will not allow him to accept. So far, it’s been the size of his crowds, or the fact he lost the popular vote. Living in denial about those things just makes him look silly, but it’s a warning of the future, people.

And, sadly, people do see this nonsense as a warning, but they think it’s a warning Trump is a liar and will lie if he wants to.

It is not. It is a warning that Trump is, like all people with NPD, ready to harbor delusions if he cannot handle truth. (Well, technically, everyone is ready to harbor delusions if they cannot handle truth. If enough outright horrible things happen to you, you will just ignore them, and invent something else, until you can deal. People with NPD just classify ‘slight criticism’ and ‘being compared unfavorably’ as ‘horrible thing happening to me, so much so I must disconnect from reality’.)

Something eventually is going to happen with real consequences he cannot accept. Maybe a veto of his will get overridden, or maybe a court will rule against him. And his brain will process that as ‘shame’ and thus process it as ‘didn’t really happen’, and he will just…be delusional. Continuing onward in a direction he cannot go, and denying what happened. Latching on to some reason it cannot be true, or does not count.

And eventually, no matter how much he’s carefully managed, either he’s going to lose re-election (Seriously, it’s extremely hard to see him getting re-elected unless he does phenomenally well.) or the Democrats are going to end up in control of a side of Congress and start doing some investigations into his business, and find enough to get the Congressional Republicans to demand he do something about it. And…he won’t.

This is how we get constitutional crisis, people. The president ignores someone checking his power and moves forward anyway.

It’s just, normally, when that happens, we rather expect the president to understand what he doing, to do that on purpose. Like Andrew Jackson threatening judicial oversight. This is, possibly, the first time we might have a president that doesn’t do it on purpose. Not from lack of understanding, but because he cannot process that this is something he is barred from doing.


So, basically, we’ve managed to elect a president with a severe personality disorder. I am not a doctor, I cannot diagnose him, but it is almost spooky how much he matches the diagnosis. This is basically a textbook example of narcissistic personality disorder, and the only thing that makes it hard to see is that Trump is truly rich and powerful, so doesn’t have delusions of that. (Or, I guess, he has delusions that match reality?)

And now, the question becomes…what do we do? Can we convince him to resign? Probably not. NPD is one of those self-denying disorders, where it’s really hard to make people understand they have it.

And the Republicans have managed to place themselves in an impossible position by electing someone who already had a lot of problems to the White House. If this was some squeaky clean person that had been elected and then discovered to be unfit, removal might be possible. But Trump is unfit in half a dozen ways (As I was intending to argue on this blog, and will probably get around to in the future.) and the Republicans have spent way too much time defending him to turn around and immediately impeach him over his now-obvious mental disorder.

So I have nothing, except a vague feeling of guilt that Donald Trump is probably just as much a victim of his own personality disorder as anyone else.

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