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Donald Trump, Hillary (and Bill) Clinton — narcissists with psychopathic features

Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump.

I am truly depressed about the upcoming presidential election. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (and Bill Clinton, who comes with Hillary) have serious character flaws that I believe make them unfit to be president of the United States.

The talking heads on TV have been practically foaming at the mouth as they disparage whichever candidate they don’t support. Unfortunately, they have plenty of legitimate material to work with. Just when you think Donald Trump can’t say anything more incendiary, he does. And just when one Clinton scandal dies down, another one surfaces.

I don’t personally know any of the candidates. But some people who do know them have written tell-all articles and books (which are roundly disputed by the supporters of the candidates who have been portrayed so unflatteringly). Here are a few good ones:

Donald Trump’s ghostwriter tells all, on NewYorker.com

Tony Schwartz, who actually wrote Donald Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, says that if he were to write a book about the business mogul today, he’d call it, The Sociopath.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

The mind of Donald Trump, on TheAtlantic.com

Dan P. McAdams wrote a portrait of Donald Trump, drawing from concepts in the fields of personality, developmental and social psychology. This article includes a description of Andrew Jackson, who was elected president in 1828 — he and Trump have a lot in common.

For psychologists, it is almost impossible to talk about Donald Trump without using the word narcissism. Asked to sum up Trump’s personality for an article in Vanity Fair, Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, responded, “Remarkably narcissistic.” George Simon, a clinical psychologist who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, says Trump is “so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of narcissism. “Otherwise I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Bill, White House staff lived in fear of Hillary: Ex-Secret Service officer, on Pagesix.com

In June, Gary Byrne, a former Secret Service agent who says he was posted outside of the Oval Office when Bill Clinton was president, came out with a book called, Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service officer discloses his firsthand experience with Hillary, Bill and how they operate.

“Hillary Clinton is now poised to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, but she simply lacks the integrity and temperament to serve in the office,” he writes.

“From the bottom of my soul I know this to be true. And with Hillary’s latest rise, I realize that her own leadership style — volcanic, impulsive, enabled by sycophants, and disdainful of the rules set for everyone else — hasn’t changed a bit.”

Is Bill Clinton a sociopath? on RealClearPolitics.com

Dick Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, wrote about his experiences with the former president.

In all my years of dealing with Bill Clinton, I never heard him express the slightest twinge of regret or concern about the fate of women who had crossed his path. He would discuss the Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers or Monica Lewinsky “situations” as if it involved someone else, not him, and never reflected on the damage he had caused to other human beings.

Diagnostic criteria for personality disorders

Google any of the candidates’ names with the words “sociopath,” “narcissist,” “antisocial” or “psychopath” and you’ll get plenty of search results. But let’s look at the actual diagnostic criteria. Do they apply to the candidates?

The most authoritative tool for diagnosing psychopathy is the Psychopathy Checklist Revised, developed by Dr. Robert Hare. It includes 20 items, and evaluators decide the degree to which each item describes an individual — as a good match, partially, or not at all.

Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised

  1. Glibness/superficial charm
  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
  3. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  4. Pathological lying
  5. Conning/manipulative
  6. Lack of remorse or guilt
  7. Shallow affect (emotions)
  8. Callous/lack of empathy
  9. Parasitic lifestyle
  10. Poor behavior controls
  11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
  12. Early behavior problems
  13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  14. Impulsivity
  15. Irresponsibility
  16. Failure to accept responsibility for actions
  17. Many short-term marital relationships
  18. Juvenile delinquency
  19. Revocation of conditional release
  20. Criminal versatility

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) includes the following descriptions for antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. These are the criteria used by most therapists when diagnosing their clients.

DSM-5 Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality disorder is marked by a pervasive pattern of disregard for or violation of others’ rights and must include at least three of the following:

  1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  2. Deceitfulness as indicated by lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.
  4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  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

DSM-5 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

NPD is marked by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), the need for admiration, and lack of empathy and must include at least five of the following:

  1. Exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Believes he/she is special and unique, i.e., can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with expectations
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. Is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  9. Has arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Evaluating the candidates

Looking at these lists of diagnostic criteria, I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are all narcissists. But that’s just the starting point.

Personality disorders are not clear cut — they are clusters of traits, and often the traits overlap. So looking at the lists, we can see that traits from psychopathy also apply to the candidates (although more to Donald and Bill than Hillary).

  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Conning/manipulative
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior

So if these three people were to be evaluated by clinical psychologists, my guess is that the diagnoses would be “narcissistic personality disorder with psychopathic features.”

Narcissism in the White House

Narcissists have occupied the White House multiple times in American history. Back in 2013, a group of psychology researchers analyzed the personalities and records all the presidents of the United States, up to and including George W. Bush, and estimated each man’s level of narcissism.

The Narcissist in Chief, on NYTimes.com

The authors, Scott O. Lilienfeld and Ashley L. Watts, wrote:

We found that narcissism, specifically “grandiose narcissism” — an amalgam of flamboyance, immodesty and dominance — was associated with greater overall presidential success. (This relation was small to moderate in magnitude.) The two highest scorers on grandiose narcissism were Lyndon B. Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt, the two lowest James Monroe and Millard Fillmore.

Grandiose narcissism was tied to slightly better crisis management, public persuasiveness and agenda-setting. Presidents with high levels of this trait were also more likely to assume office by winning election in a landslide (55 percent or more of the popular vote) and to initiate new legislation.

Yet we also found that grandiose narcissism was associated with certain negative outcomes, including unethical behaviors like stealing, abusing power and bending rules. High scorers on this trait were especially likely to have been the target of impeachment resolutions (John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton).

These authors make it sound like having a narcissist as president isn’t such a bad thing. Granted, most politicians likely have elevated levels of narcissism. But at some point, the narcissism becomes excessive, and when there are also psychopathic traits in the mix — well, I’ve written about politicians like them before (former Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Fumo, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, former Executive Director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority Carl Greene). At best, they’re embarrassing; at worst, they’re criminal. In any event, they usually cost taxpayers a lot of money.

What to do?

Personally, I believe that character counts, and I am very worried about what will happen if either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes president.

Therefore, I am seriously looking at other candidates, particularly Gary Johnson and Bill Weld of the Libertarian party.

I have never liked the domination of the American political process by only two parties — the right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats. I’ve voted for third-party candidates twice, even knowing that it was a lost cause.

But this time it’s really serious. And this time so many people don’t like the major party candidates that someone else may have a chance. I hope so.

I don’t want to have a narcissist with psychopathic features in the White House.

 



32 Comments on "Donald Trump, Hillary (and Bill) Clinton — narcissists with psychopathic features"

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  1. kalina says:

    Hello! I am in agreement with JMShort. This is an important topic as voting is just around the corner. I am surprised at all the undermining rhetoric being dumped on Hillary. I am not a fool but just very concerned that we are heading in the wrong direction. We live in an economy that is dominated by capitalists whose greed is supported by the very expensive political landscape they are supporting with their contributions. No boundaries between business and politics. The dot com bubble and the housing bubble were fueled by very rich and influential bankers who manipulated the legal system to avoid accountability. People in leadership positions need to be very tough minded and prepared for the war of words at every turn. Please see the whole picture and not just the fragments. Yes, vote your conscience but be discriminating at the same time. The Neo-cons got their way with Bush and just about started “the War of the Worlds”. Terrorism has spread and the neo-cons never took responsibility for their lies to the congress and American people. Whatever one says about the Clinton Foundation it is legal and donates millions to worthy causes around the world. Kalina



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  2. Stargazer says:

    It is clear to me that Trump is a card-carrying narcissistic personality disorder and a moron to boot. I think it would be national suicide to have him as president. I think Hillary has had to develop a much harder edge to be a woman in politics. She was not my favorite choice either, but she has been scrutinized much more harshly than any other presidential candidate just because she is a woman. Women have to fight a much harder battle in politics. Also, in spite of the personal interests of Clinton and Obama, they have both done a great deal for women’s health and the economy. I’d rather have Bernie, but I’ll take Hillary over Trump any day.



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  3. JoyInTheHouse says:

    I don’t mind people making their money the honest way. Hilary is selling access and talks one way to the average American and another way to Wall Street. This is a threat to my family and Hilary and Obama are NOT listening as they are personality disordered and corrupt of character.

    Selling access to countries who make women lower than dogs is not the mark of a champion of women Hillary!!

    Hilary and Obama have made insurance unaffordable to the middle class. That alone has is proof that healthcare is in the toilet from their regimes.

    Hilary has been a callous radical from her earliest college days. Her ambition is unbridled and she does not care who she has to ruin to get to the top. Scandal is her constant status.

    She has been championed by deceived media sycophants . Trump has been put through scrutiny tand attacks hat most humans could not stand.

    The thug Bush machine is busy silencing any voice of support for Trump. Arm twisting Republicans to be silenced or come out against Trump or get the wrath of the powerful Bush family.

    Hilary’s previous recorded positions are in conflict with her current positions which follow the demands of the far left-integrity sold out. While she technically would not want terrorists in the country she has supported a huge flow of immigration beyond our capacity to assimilate. That is how you go from being a free nation to one just like what these people are fleeing from. Of course the left has branded everyone who takes a position of disagreement with this policy is branded a racist and Muslim hater. That is patently false but a great way to earn votes from low information voters. Another heinous manipulation from the Clinton machine. That is how you remove the voice of the people. That is a very evil person. I’m voting for Trump.



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