As a licensed clinical social worker specializing in narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy (aka sociopathy), I express alarm how, invoking ethical codes frowning upon the psychiatric diagnosing of public figures, the major clinical associations, and the vast majority of clinical experts, have been inexcusably silent in confronting what has been “the big clinical elephant in the room”—Donald Trump’s indisputably malignant narcissism, and, let us say it, his psychopathic personality.
This has been a shameful silence. A cowardly silence. Donald Trump is patently no anodyne, garden-variety narcissist. For decades, thanks to the seminal observations and research of distinguished psychopathy experts like Hervey Cleckley, MD and Robert Hare, Ph.D, we’ve identified the traits and attitudes associated with psychopathic personality. They include emotional shallowness, manipulativeness, pathological lying, impulsivity, weak or missing empathy, remorselessness, unconscionableness, callousness, grandiosity, glibness, proneness (in boredom) to seek stimulation. Is it not, by now, absurd even to pretend that Trump doesn’t score “off the charts” on every measure of these traits?
But we know more—that psychopaths, for instance, tend to be shameless, brazen personalities. One would be hard-pressed to find a more shameless, brazen human being than Trump. We know, moreover, that psychopaths tend to be antisocially audacious, their audacity often evoking reactions of incredulity. On a virtually daily basis, Trump invokes incredulity with his jaw-dropping audacity.
Probing the psychopath’s mentality, we know that psychopaths historically will tend to be game players, rule breakers, envelope pushers and limit testers, angling to “get over” on others (and systems). We also know they tend to view vulnerability (what they perceive as weakness) with contempt, and will have a history of exploiting vulnerability to their advantage. To fail to recognize that Trump caricatures these tendencies (and this mentality) puts one, by now, in an “alt-universe,” certainly not reality.
Where, then, has the voice of the clinical world been—to offer the necessary, sufficient, and only responsible “explanation” of Donald Trump? To explain that this is what malignant narcissists, what psychopaths are; this is how they behave?
This is what, and who, Trump is. This explains Trump.
That voice has been silent. Missing. Cowering behind “ethical codes” in an abject abdication of ethics.