When the CIA’s former lead shrink starts examining your head, a person might suspect that there’s trouble afoot.
There’s a long-standing principle in psychiatry that a doctor should not venture an analysis—a public profile, more formally—of someone without that person’s consent and without having made an in-person assessment. “The ethical principle seemed extreme and overdrawn,” writes Post (Narcissism and Politics, 2014, etc.) in light of the fact that other academicians, including psychologists and political scientists, regularly deliver opinions about the mind of Donald Trump. Forgive him the professional transgression, for what the author has to say is of pressing interest and helps elucidate much of Trump’s eccentric behavior. At the heart of the narrative is a portrait of the mental makeup of the narcissist, coupled with the mass psychology of a crowd of supporters who are locked into near worship of a charismatic leader. That charisma may not always be a bad thing; Post, for instance, attributes to it the success of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. But the narcissism component is seldom positive, and it explains many things about Trump. “The only loyalty a person with his malignant or pathological narcissism has is to himself and his own survival,” Post writes, and never mind the fate of those around that person, since loyalty flows only in the direction of Trump and not the other way. Paranoia, insecurity, bluster, constant aggression, and utter lack of empathy are other components of the template. Worse news comes at the end of this complex but unflagging account when he ponders the possibility that this will all end not with a whimper but a bang, either through the nuclear war that Trump has long feared or the refusal to relinquish office if defeated in 2020, since “the loss of the limelight which has been such a rewarding accompaniment of the presidential role will be very difficult for him to tolerate.”
A damning study of Trump’s mind that goes a long way toward explaining some damnably odd behavior.