Posted in Politics

The Psychology of Trump

Love him or hate him, this guy has had a big impact on the world stage already with such a short time notched up in office.

So what is it about Trump that has so many people worried?

In one sense, as a punter, I bork at voicing an opinion about Trump because I don’t know him personally. Those who do know him, or who get to know him in office, will build their own opinions on a lot more information than I have.

As a psychologist, I also understand the importance of proper assessment and evaluation before being able to reach any valid diagnosis.

On the other hand, democracies are forged out of citizens making judgements on the qualities and character of their political representatives and voting one way or the other from the context of these opinions. The campaign trail is ultimately about presenting to the people the personal qualities and character of the candidate.

Trump’s personal qualities and character that have been revealed openly to the world stage does present with very clear anecdotes of concern.

Basically, the concerns raised about Trump could be placed under the term: Dark Personality Triad. For a more technical read on the condition I recommend the International Association of Applied Psychology’s Special Journal Issue: Beyond The Bright Side: Dark Personality in the Workplace (2015; Volume 64, Issue 01).

In a nutshell, this disordered personality type has been studied across a lot of different settings with a particular focus on the executive management of large corporations. It’s a dysfunctional personality cluster characterised most specifically with indifference towards others and dominance over others. It consists of three (3) major categories:

1. Narcissism: holding a sense of entitlement that expects/presumes excessive admiration from others, whereby ultimately everything is, or should be, about them. Subcategories include authoritarianism, arrogance, entitlement, exhibitionism, expoitiveness, self-admiration, self-absorption, superiority and vanity.

2. Psychopathy (subclinical): void of a conscience that is incapable of empathy, guilt or loyalty to anyone but themselves. Subcategories include superficial charm, dishonesty, egocentricity, manipulativeness, callousness, excessive risk-taking, impulsive thrill seeking and criminal behaviour.

3. Machiavellianism: an unscrupulously cold, cunning and selfish motivation to obtain and maintain power and control through a very deliberate and calculated manipulation of others. This dysfunctional personality type is most typically seen through the written works and associated political stratagem of Niccolo` Machiavelli the renaissance philosopher, writer and political advisor.  It presents a cold and calculated strategy of manipulation that some feel aligned to and therefore choose to apply as a deliberate leadership style.

Unfortunately it’s easy to see how some of Trump’s overt behaviours could fall in to any one or all three of these categories above.

So personally, and as a psychologist, I’m concerned. He’s a worry, that’s for sure.

Some quotes from Trump that speak a little to the categories above:

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault” – twitter 11:37 AM – 9 May 2013

“My twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth” -twitter  1:06 AM – 18 Oct 2012

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” (Secret video recording, 2005)

“Often when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?'” (Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life2008)

It’s also the little things that can say a lot … this video offers a quick comparison of approach between two leaders



Hi everyone! I'm a psychologist who is passionate about the broad contribution this field can make to society. Ultimately, psychology is about living life well; whether in personal relationships, friendships, work, politics, local communities, society more broadly or your own personal wellbeing. Psychology covers it all! As a psychologist I consult regularly through my private practice on the Gold Coast in Australia and also internationally via Skype.

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