Political runs a fascinating article on Mother’s Day about the possible causes of Trump’s often described narcissism, sociopathic and/or psychopathic nature, paranoia, conspiracy obsession, and just all around general meanness. The article notes that Trump distrusts psychologists and any other mental health professionals, which comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody since Trump does not enjoy hearing that there could possibly be anything but greatness about him. Therefore, there’s no “trail” or records to release about any official treatment, leaving everyone somewhat guessing about his “issues” from behavior seen every day. The article posits that the most obvious explanation goes back to issues regarding interactions with his mother early in life.
Bear with me.
The author suggests that attachment theory – a fairly well understood psychological concern – plays a major role in what we see from the man. Very simply stated, attachment theory derives from the fact that we are all born so helpless (undeniably true) that we must “attach” to some “normal” capable caregiver that we know to trust to take care of our most basic needs. Whether or not we achieve this healthy attachment – to a mother generally, but can be a father – has a lifelong impact on our relationships. We’re not just talking intimate relationships or close friendships, the theory is applicable even with respect to relationships in the workplace, in our recreation activities, yes, definitely with loved ones, and even in politics. Children who have healthy attachment or what psychologists call a “secure” attachment, tend to carry the positive impacts into all the above areas. They are more confident, trust others, take setbacks with a reasonable response, and can form long and stable relationships. Children who don’t have the needed security of attachment often become adults who aren’t comfortable with real intimacy, they damn sure don’t trust others, have a constant neediness for reassurance from everyone around them, and don’t respond well at all to set backs, whether it be a death of a loved one, a business failure, or any of the other normal pitfalls we all can face in adulthood.
Obviously we don’t have a complete picture of Trump’s childhood, just sort of a fly-by, but one that sort of “fits” some likelihood that there easily could have been problems. Trump was the fourth of five children, and had a father who was as consumed with “work” (money) as Trump, and thus rarely around – that fact is pretty-well established. That leaves a mother with five children (and a nanny), Trump being neither the oldest, who as the “first” to experience everything, school, dates, college, gets a bit more attention, nor the baby. Without a doubt, his mother was extremely busy, five children and an absent husband would make life difficult. Trump also had quite the personality early on, “hard to deal with” would be an apt description of a kid who punches a teacher in the face at a very early age.
But, perhaps the biggest factor may be that his mother had extremely serious complications with the birth of her last child. His mother endured an emergency hysterectomy, complicated by subsequent infections with more surgeries —four in two weeks, according to her oldest daughter. The inevitable and sad result is that at age two years and two months, Trump went through the trauma of long absences from his mother, along with the fear of life-threatening illness, she could die. We’re not sure how long she was totally incapacitated, and no one knows if she ever really re-engaged with that fourth son. According to a Politico Magazine story on Mary Trump, there’s evidence that Trump and his mother didn’t interact much at all during his childhood.
The author notes that Infants who don’t get the healthy attachment that is relatively normal usually will react in one of two ways as adults. They can have attachment anxiety, where as an adult they crave intimacy but don’t really trust anyone, and are continually looking for the reassurance of positive feedback as to their self-worth. Or, the adult suffers from attachment avoidance, they really don’t trust others, to the point where they’re entirely convinced they don’t need anyone close to them, which leads to completely unstable relationships. They’ll treasure perceived self-reliance and just bizarre independence. It is important to note that self-reliance and independence, can provide big time advantages in certain areas, the author notes these people can be excellent self-starters.
The author, who isn’t a professional psychologist but has done extensive research in the area due to books written that involve the issue. Thus, he isn’t bound by the ethical rules pertaining to professional psychologists. He believes that Trump fits the “avoidance” reaction.
He offers some reasons. First, Trump being Trump will never, ever, admit any sort of weakness, and has said many flattering things about his mother, that she was “fantastic” and “tremendous,” describing her as “very warm” and “very loving.” And yet, friends of the Trump family who knew the Trump kids when they were young have reported they “rarely saw Mrs. Trump” and that Donald, practically worshiped his father, was “very detached from his mother.” Adults with avoidance issues speak with idolization of their parents, but have no real evidence to back it up.
And, with respect to what we see from the man who ran and is now president, dear god in heaven, he sure as hell fits the predicted pattern. Is a review even necessary? Well, just to hit the highlights, he exudes a powerful sense of self-reliance and has no ability whatsoever to acknowledge any self doubt (never needed to ask for God’s forgiveness, Jesus Christ); has any president had a history chock full of bragging about sexual conquests? He basically has no close friends; multiple marriages; and the revolving door at the White House concerning staff positions, Cabinet members and always changing who he finds ‘good” in Congress.
Has any president ever craved the need for the spotlight like him? He sure as shit acts like he has an obsessive need for admiration.
Overt narcissism or grandiose self-regard, the leading attachment researchers Mario Mikulincer and Philip R. Shaver report, is associated with attachment avoidance.
Check that box rather confidently.
The real question we’d all be interested in is how good or bad is this aspect of his “style,” because there can be big-time advantages for politicians and business professionals. And there can be big time problems. Well, generally people are all around healthier and more stable if they had sensitive and consistent caregiver during infancy—and grew up to have a secure attachment style.
So it is likely that leaders with secure attachment—as, for example, Franklin Roosevelt had, according to researchers—can become truly transformational by encouraging and uplifting the population in times of crisis. And while it’s true that people with attachment avoidance can often be personally successful—in business and other individually focused activities—there are requirements for public office, such as the ability to connect emotionally with constituents or at times to act selflessly—that may be difficult for those with attachment avoidance to muster. While it is too early for history to judge this presidency, understanding President Trump’s likely attachment style—and the attachment styles of all our political leaders—can give us important insights into their behavior and actions in office.
Oh, I’m no psychologist, either, but I ain’t all that sure it is too early to judge this presidency’s weaknesses, given the likely issues and the fact that he’s shown no ability at all to adapt to anything, from the beginning of his campaign until now, he’s the same guy. Most candidates who become president evolve some as they learn the role, indeed learn a lot.
Last, and this is just so relevant I find it to be the most important part of the article, voters have the same issues. Voters with avoidance issues:
[are] often distrusting others and prizing self-reliance, may embrace a strident conservatism, both economic (the world is a “competitive jungle”) and military (“we can only depend on our own strength”).
Umm, that sounds a lot like the average Brietbart reader.
Look, I’m skeptical of psychological studies generally because it is such a difficult science to “prove” with data, as compared to harder sciences such as psychiatry and medicine generally. But, they do make some extremely “correct-sounding” theories.
Who would’ve guessed, “Mommy issues” might explain so much as to why the White House acts more like a TV show? Every “episode” requires some cliff-hanger as to whether we survive as a democratic republic.
Of course, it can all be just because he’s a jackass. That’s possible, too.