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Trump as sociopath: This is the most frightening thing you’ll read this week

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I write a lot about Trump’s unfitness for office, above and beyond anything he does, policy-wise. You may agree or disagree with him on taxes, or global warming, or immigration, or transgendered people in the military, and on and on (I happen to disagree with him on just about everything). But even if he were 100% correct on all the issues (an impossibility), he’d be the worst president ever because of his moral and psychological degeneracy. Now, we know that there’s an underlying psychological illness that describes all the things Trump is: sociopath. The word comes from socio, (social, enjoying the company of others) and path (sick, diseased); a sociopath is a person who has hateful feelings towards his fellow humans.

Recently, Raw Story, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive website, ran an interview with a retired Harvard professor of clinical psychology, Dr. Lance Dodes, on Trump’s “severe, continuous mental disorder.”  Dodes explained the nature of sociopathy, whose official diagnostic name is Antisocial Personality Disorder, and told why people suffering from it are so dangerous. Sociopaths “lack both normal human empathy for others and a normal human conscience. Cheating, conning, lying, stealing, threatening are all done with no remorse.” This would make any sociopath at the very least unpleasant, and at worst someone to avoid like the plague. But when the sociopath in question is the most powerful person in the world, the consequences are potentially disastrous: “First, there is a serious risk that [Trump] will start a war to distract the country from his multiple failures and his attempts to become a one-man ruler. Second, there is a serious risk of his destroying democracy in this country.”

We mostly think of sociopaths in terms of murderers: John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, for example. But most sociopaths aren’t killers. The blogger Tanya J. Peterson, who writes for the online mental health resource, Healthy Place, distinguishes between two types of sociopath: high-functioning and low-functioning. Donald J. Trump is a high-functioning sociopath, by which she means he is “intelligent, can exude charm when he wants to, is goal-driven, calculating and clever, and moreover has the patience” to wait “until the time is right to make his move… All sociopaths are dangerous whether labeled high-functioning or low-functioning,” Peterson notes, but “a high-functioning sociopath can dream bigger and manipulate better than other sociopaths. They can cause a great deal of damage.”

Dodes, in Raw Story, lists seven traits of sociopaths, as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official guidebook for psychiatric professionals. Trump, Dodes finds, “meets every one of them”:

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.
2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying … or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
4. Irritability and aggressiveness
5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

Search your head for your own memories of Trump’s worst statements and behaviors as you scan the list. I’m sure you’ll recognize him throughout. Now, back to the two worst consequences of having a high-functioning sociopath as president, which I described above. The first is “starting a war to distract the country…This is most likely to occur,” Dudes warns, “as he is stressed by challenges to his position as president.” One can easily imagine that as the Mueller/Southern District legal walls close in on him, a frightened, endangered Trump, cornered like a rat, will lash out at another country—Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, who knows? And then, we’re in deep trouble.

The second consequence, you’ll recall, was “destroying democracy in this country.” Trump clearly has already begun this process: attacking the courts and his own Justice Department and Intelligence services, the news media, and the half of America that is Democratic, and threatening to defy the Constitution by ignoring Congress, if it suits him. “These are well-known tactics of would-be tyrants,” Dudes observes, “and are signs of sociopathy…”. If he continues on this path—and there’s no reason he won’t, as long as 90% of the Republican base supports him—Trump could well do precisely what many worry about: nullify the results of the 2020 elections. By utilizing his powers as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, Trump could make his position impregnable.

Trumpians will argue that such conjectures are fever-dreams, symptoms of Trump Derangement Syndrome. I disagree. We have in the White House a seriously sick sociopath. Such a man is incapable of being reasoned with. Like the Ted Bundys and Jeffrey Dahmers of this world, he has acquired a taste for what he does. The only way to stop such a menace is through force. My advice to America is to gird your loins, know whom your friends are, likewise your enemies, and get ready to organize for the 2020 elections like nothing you’ve ever done before.

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