On May 14 my open forum “Grandiosity In Office” was published, the first half of which listed statements and actions illustrating that “one of the striking characteristics of President Trump is grandiosity.” Then I asked readers to compare these with the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

On June 7, this paper published a response to my forum by George R. Gallagher. I have never before responded in writing to a response to one of my letters, but it did not impugn my integrity or motives in the way some others have. It is hard to defend integrity and motives without getting defensive. Gallagher’s letter opens up the chance for respectful dialogue, and to clarify some things about “personality disorders.”

Gallagher graciously called my writing “a very interesting treatise on Trump’s psychological makeup,” and listed the six facets of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I had listed, concluding: “He has just described Hillary Clinton perfectly.” But, just saying that about Clinton without giving any evidence — like the long list I had given about Trump — sounds too much like the “so’s your old man” response of our childhood, or the frequent “what about Hillary?” responses by Trump supporters on cable news. Perhaps specific statements and actions of Clinton’s that fit that diagnosis could be shown.

Gallagher ends with a provocative thought: “Might we just say that perhaps running for president requires a narcissistic personality? Of the 14 presidents in my lifetime, at least one-third have more than likely met these criteria.”

This gives me a chance to clarify “personality disorders” and “Narcissism.” Running for president probably does require a strong ego, self-confidence and perhaps some narcissistic personality traits; which might be seen in most of the 14 presidents Gallagher referenced — with strong exceptions for Carter, G.H.W. Bush, and perhaps Truman and Ford.

But “personality disorders” are different from just having certain personality traits. They involve “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” (DSM-V). The last sentence in my May 14 writing suggested this: “Trump’s statements may just seem quaint or weird, but they may be far more rooted in his personality — and less under his control — than we realize.”

Someone with full personality disorder (whether paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent or obsessive-compulsive) has responses which seem off kilter and unpredictable from a rational view. Their words and deeds often get them in trouble. They leave you wondering: “why in the world would he or she say or do that? How does that help the situation — or even help them?” Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton may have come close to such a diagnosis in the self-destructive things they did; but none of them bragged and claimed to be the greatest (“very very smart, stable genius”) in many things, exaggerated crowd sizes, asked Cabinet members to praise them, made everything about himself or called critics nasty names even during solemn occasions.

Bill Faw lives in Rockingham County.

(8) comments

paulgarber

Any tangible object has a purpose. Think like a scout - he will be used for service to the country because he has no choice.

newshound

Faw: A Dr. Phil wannabe buffoon. Take your nickel analysis and shove it.

R B Tate

Wonder if this guy's significant other is still screaming at the television, while he sits beside in a lab coat, munching Doritos and diagnosing?

mattnamyj

"None of them bragged and claimed to be the greatest". Mr. Faw, none of them lowered taxes like they promised, none of them took unemployment to a low not seen in 50 years, none of them set record lows for unemployment with women and minorities, none of them revived American manufacturing, none of them brought millions of dollars back home from overseas, none of them had to clean up the mess left behind by Obama. President Trump is working on every single promise he made the American people, many he has already fulfilled. Haters just gonna hate!

sbsheridan

Selective memory can make anything seem true. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Trump's is the 8th largest tax cut since 1918. Unemployment may be at a record low, but that's only because Obama started the decline; unemployment fell 2.6 percentage points during Obama's tenure vs. 0.9 percentage points for Trump so far. Trump's promise that he would begin building a wall along our southern border on his first day in office, and that that wall would be paid for by Mexico has not been kept. Muslims have not been banned from entering the U.S. (thank goodness), as he pledged. The Affordable Care Act has not been repealed and replaced. Trump has never presented a "wonderful" new health care plan, which he promised to do within the first few months of his presidency. Trump has not yet killed NATO, prosecuted Hillary Clinton, or rebuilt our infrastructure, all things he promised to do promptly. And he hasn't spent many weekends diligently working in his office; instead, he has played much more golf than Obama. Please don't respond with a list of reasons that Trump couldn't do these things. If Trump made these promises to voters, he should have anticipated the difficulties. Of course, anyone who can look at the cameras and say, with wonderment, "Who knew how complicated health care was?" probably doesn't have a clue how to get things done.

prodigalson

Susan, if you have actually convinced yourself that President Obama had anything to do with the robust economy that we are now experiencing, then you are indeed delusional. GDP growth is much higher than under Obama, Unemployment is much lower than under Obama, Consumer confidence is at an all time high, tax rates are lower than under Obama, and manufacturing jobs are actually coming back. You need a reality check.

sbsheridan

I'm not delusional. I just like facts and data. When Obama took office, GDP growth was -0.1%. When he left, if was 1.6%. In 2018 it was 2.9%. Yes, it has risen significantly under Trump, but that trend started under Obama. The same goes for unemployment: 7.3% in 2008, 4.7% in 2016, and 3.9% in 2018. Consumer confidence is high (though not "all time") and tax rates are lower for some; there is still debate over who really benefited from those cuts. See the recent edition of New York Magazine for your reality check. Must everything Trump be the best ever, and everything Obama the worst ever? Facts do not support that interpretation.

billnonymous

sbs, your unemployment rates may be right but do not explain that most jobs under Obama were government jobs, which taxpayers have to part with their own income to support. Trump's jobs were mostly manufacturing jobs, which do not cost the taxpayer anything. In Obama's last 2 years, he added only 73,000 manufacturing jobs. In Trump's first two years, he added 467,000 manufacturing jobs. FACTS.

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