When I released the first edition of this book in 2015 I and almost everyone else would have considered it preposterous to say Donald Trump would become president of the United States. Donald Trump is defined by unrelenting faultfinding and criticism. His behavior is clearly impulsive, and he appears to be emotionally unstable. These traits, in order, are the three most important criteria for diagnosing borderline personality disorder. Trump appears to exhibit eight of the nine criteria to make the diagnosis when only five are needed. Numerous authors have speculated that Trump is mentally ill, having one or more personality disorders including borderline, narcissistic, and antisocial. Diagnostic signs and symptoms of these disorders are splashed all over the press, Internet, his tweets, and in books. While many people speculated Trump could be a narcissist, few openly identified him as a potential Borderline. If borderline personality disorder was instead called faultfinding personality disorder, many more people would have questioned Trump’s mental health. The following is a review of Donald Trump’s behavior in comparison to the nine criteria used to diagnose borderline personality disorder.
The first and most important sign displayed by individuals having borderline personality disorder is constantly finding faults in themselves and others, which interferes with their interpersonal relationships. They see everyone and everything in black-and-white, all-good or all-bad terms. In psychology this is called splitting. Those who agree with them are all-good. Anyone who disagrees or even questions them may be seen as all-bad. Trump is constantly placing people into these two extreme categories. Trump said, “When you have an enemy, you gotta f–k them and devote your whole life to f—king them, and when you have a friend, you love them, and nobody exists in the middle [emphasis added].” There is essentially no middle ground or gray areas where he sees people in the normal middle.
Tony Schwartz, who wrote Donald’s first book Trump: The Art of the Deal had this to say about him, “Trump didn’t fit any model of a human being I’d ever met….Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest.”
Some of Donald’s favorite sayings for the all-good people are, “great guy,” “incredible,” “fantastic,” “terrific,” and “amazing.” When Trump speaks about others there is seemingly no end to his faultfinding. Some of his insulting words are “loser,” “moron,” “bad,” “low-energy,” “overrated,” “slob,” “bimbo,” “ugly,” “boring,” “stupid,” “terrible,” “unattractive,” and “disgusting.”
Borderlines rarely if ever apologize for their hurtful actions. Does Trump apologize for any of his insulting comments? Apparently only if he is forced to by the media and his campaign staff, and if he does, his so-called apologies are sarcastic or non-apologies. On August 18, 2016 Trump made this non-apology apology, “Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” Trump said. “And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.” He did not say he was sorry nor did he mention any of the numerous individuals and groups he had insulted. His words were eerily similar to President Richard Nixon’s post Watergate comments where he never apologized for violating the law.
Borderlines won’t admit it, but inwardly they hate themselves. Their actions are aimed at countering their poor self-image. This may include aggressive self-promotion and putting others down in order to improve their negative image of themselves. Several authors have discussed the apparent self-hatred of Donald Trump.
Where would Donald’s negative self-image come from? A reporter and his assistant were in a restaurant and overheard Fred, Donald’s father, say to his secretary-mistress, “I hope his plane crashes” referring to Donald who was flying somewhere at the time. Fred was a terror – cold, hard, demanding – and told his sons to be killers, hard-driving and to never give up. In referring to his father, Donald would repeatedly say he was tough, tough, tough. Constant criticism and lack of love from his father may have instilled a deep self-hatred and insecurity in Donald that he has tried to overcome ever since. He may be plagued with a lifelong obsession to live up to his father’s impossible expectations. Donald’s brother, Fred Jr. who died from alcoholism, was scared to death of his father. Donald would be expected to display signs of borderline personality disorder if he inherited BPD traits from his father.
Donald was raised in the cult-like church of Norman Vincent Peale, which preached “The Power of Positive Thinking.” It taught adherents to ignore or suppress doubts, conflicting opinions, and negative thoughts. Self-image was emphasized, not God. Trump was captivated by Peale who taught that if you believed 100 percent in yourself with positive thoughts, what you wanted God would grant. This appears to be the foundation upon which Donald has lived his life. Anybody or anything that questions his supposedly correct thinking elicits denial, lying, and vicious attacks. Psychologist Albert Ellis treated a number of Peale adherents that suffered mental breakdowns because of following Peale’s teachings. Ellis said these patients exhibited borderline personality disorder symptoms.
Donald has German and Scottish ancestry. His father Fred was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan riot in New York in 1927. This might help explain the racism that was a prominent part of Donald’s campaign and the racist followers he attracted.
The second most important mentor in Donald’s life, after his father, was attorney Roy Cohn who was the chief counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy during his 1950’s televised red-baiting anticommunist campaign. This campaign, known as McCarthyism, has been discredited due to its lies, black listing of targeted people, and ruthless undemocratic practices.
Roy Cohn had all five of the mafia crime families meet in his office so they could claim attorney-client privilege and the authorities couldn’t eavesdrop on their conversations. Cohn was ultimately disbarred for deceit and fraud.
Trump has followed Cohn’s credo to seek publicity, always attack, and never apologize.
The second symptom of borderline personality disorder is potentially self-damaging reckless impulsivity in such areas as sex, overspending, substance abuse, reckless driving, screaming at or threatening to harm others, binge eating, gambling, or other areas. This is how one reporter explained Trump’s reckless self-destructive impulsivity:
Trump is self-destructive. He uses negative behavior to garner attention. He must be the center of controversy at all times, and has found that the best way to accomplish this is to do outrageous things that will endanger both himself and the country he is supposed to be protecting….He enjoys belittling and humiliating people because he has a low opinion of himself. He has to be vilified by others, because that is the only way he feels comfortable. When he withdrew from the Paris climate accord, he knew that the entire world would condemn him. He accomplished two things, and neither had anything to do with global warming: He voted to withdraw from the agreement because he knew it would cause a commotion; He relished in, and was comfortable with, the position of a destroyer, because he again becomes the center of negative attention and repeats his lifelong patterns. Trump’s cabinet appointments, almost without exception, are the antithesis of the groups they are supposed to be leading. In other words, he picked an Environmental Protection Agency chief who doesn’t believe in global warming, an energy secretary who wants to eliminate the very department he is running, and an education secretary who doesn’t believe in public education. These people are destroying years of progress made by their predecessors. They are Donald Trump by proxy. The president is not a media neophyte. He is an expert and understands exactly how to exploit it. He knows full well where he stands with the world’s people as the result of his Paris climate accord decision. A man who is ultra-conscious of every opinion poll is also well aware that his actual popularity rating is now in the toilet. The negative attention which would disturb most people is fine with him. It keeps his self-image intact. If there isn’t a crisis on a given day in the White House, Donald Trump will create one. He perennially operates under the character flaw, the dark personality trait of self-destruction….Make no mistake, Trump is out to destroy the United States government and himself. If given the chance, his legacy will be the same as those of all the tyrants who have ruined the lives of millions of people. He will also ruin the Earth.
In the area of sex his comments are revealing. Wikipedia has a page dedicated to Trump’s sexual misconduct involving at least twenty-seven assault and harassment allegations. There is his first wife, Ivana Trump, alleging that he raped her. There is his pattern of repeatedly walking unannounced into the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA dressing rooms to gawk at the naked contestants. And the notorious recording of Trump:
I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” “And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything…. “Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
When asked by Howard Stern on his radio program what he did to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases from all the women he was sleeping with Donald responded:
It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.
It is doubtful Vietnam Veterans would call him “a great and very brave soldier” especially since he was a draft dodger. He also stated women’s vaginas are “potential landmines” and “there’s some real danger there.” This was potentially self-damaging behavior in the era of AIDS before there were effective treatments.
Trump’s grandfather ran a restaurant and brothel in the Klondike. His father, Fred, had a secretary-mistress. These facts might be early seeds of Donald’s misogyny and these totally contradictory quotes, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody” and “You have to treat ‘em like s—.” Trump was married three times, and divorced due to his adultery.
Trump’s overspending is obvious from the 1990 bankruptcy order that he had to limit his personal spending to $450,000 per month.
Donald Trump has filed for bankruptcy six times, not the four he claimed:
Trump’s Taj Mahal opened in April 1990 in Atlantic City, but six months later, “defaulted on interest payments to bondholders as his finances went into a tailspin,”… In July 1991, Trump’s Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy. He could not keep up with debts on two other Atlantic City casinos, and those two properties declared bankruptcy in 1992. A fourth property, the Plaza Hotel in New York, declared bankruptcy in 1992 after amassing debt….two more bankruptcies filed after 1992, totaling six. Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004, after accruing about $1.8 billion in debt. Trump Entertainment Resorts also declared bankruptcy in 2009.
Trump is prone to other self-destructive actions as well. Donald was the majority owner of the New Jersey Generals, a United States Football League (USFL) team. He wanted a fight and insisted that the USFL sue the National Football League (NFL) and switch from playing games in the spring to the fall to directly compete with them. This strategy failed and the USFL was dissolved.
There is a long and well-documented history of Donald “screaming at or threatening to harm others.” He continues this on his Twitter account and interactions with the press and the people he comes in contact with, shrinking his base of supporters as he alienates more people around the world.
A third trait of Borderlines is their intense mood swings which is called emotional instability. Emotional instability may be defined as, “Unstable emotional experiences and frequent mood changes; emotions that are easily aroused, intense, and/or out of proportion to events and circumstances.” When I did a Google Internet search of “‘emotional instability’ Trump” I got a list of 206,000 citations. In the 2017 book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, the authors warn that Donald Trump is too mentally unstable to be president.
So volatile are some Borderlines that dealing with them is called “walking on eggshells.” People are walking on eggshells around Trump. He is a high-conflict personality. He loves drama, disruption, and private or public fights. He appears to be uncomfortable when things are calm and is compelled to create chaos. In December 2017 The New York Times described it this way, “One former top adviser said Mr. Trump grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.”
Crisis is his life. He is not boring and that attracts attention. One reporter described Trump’s mental state:
In other words, the most reliable means of blocking Trump from his routine bouts of outrage diarrhea is to feed him positive news while manipulating the news content of friendly press outlets in order to trick Trump into believing everything’s just great. So, the president has to be handled like an easily triggered rage addict who’s only fed positive news, otherwise he lashes out with all-caps non-sequiturs. No wonder his version of “reality” is vastly different than the rest of the world….It sounds like they’re dealing with someone in the throes of borderline personality disorder, constantly walking on eggshells… or else BOOM!…But what’s more than obvious is that Trump is so undisciplined and so thin-skinned that the people around him need to lasso and corral him using techniques we’d normally expect in a mental illness scenario — or when desperately attempting to control a petulant recess bully who suffers from attention deficit issues.
Reportedly, twice a day the White House staff gives Trump a carefully screened folder of positive news stories about himself in an effort to keep him on an even keel. Senator Bob Corker summarized this problem when he tweeted, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Donald’s control-freak tendencies may be an outward manifestation of a fear of being controlled and efforts to control his internal swirling pot of emotions. A classmate at the New York Military Academy said, “Donald would try to ‘break’ anyone who failed to bend to his will.” This was also a central goal in Adolf Hitler’s life.
A fourth symptom Borderlines display is intense and even uncontrolled anger. This was a defining theme of Donald’s campaign to become president and he thrilled in provoking anger in his audiences. He feels he doesn’t have to live by the same rules as other people, frequently expressing this in angry tweets and media appearances. An example of his anger was on display when he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Trump is well known for saying he does not read books, but his first wife Ivana is quoted as saying the one book that Donald did read was My New Order, the Collected Speeches of Adolf Hitler. Paramount executive Marty Davis apparently gave it to him because a lawyer told Marty that Donald was a believer in Hitler’s big-lie theory. He is following Hitler’s teachings as evidenced by the many big lies that he keeps telling. Unfortunately, like in Germany, many people are falling for them. Trump is expressing anger similar to Hitler’s, being angry at everybody and everything as demonstrated by his racism, bigotry, and hatred. One psychologist wrote:
Trump’s tendencies toward social ambition and aggressiveness were evident very early in his life, as we will see later. (By his own account, he once punched his second-grade music teacher, giving him a black eye.) According to Barbara Res, who in the early 1980s served as vice president in charge of construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan, the emotional core around which Donald Trump’s personality constellates is anger: “As far as the anger is concerned, that’s real for sure. He’s not faking it,” she told The Daily Beast in February. “The fact that he gets mad, that’s his personality.” Indeed, anger may be the operative emotion behind Trump’s high extroversion as well as his low agreeableness. Anger can fuel malice, but it can also motivate social dominance, stoking a desire to win the adoration of others. Combined with a considerable gift for humor (which may also be aggressive), anger lies at the heart of Trump’s charisma. And anger permeates his political rhetoric.
Trump constantly sees himself as being a victim of a whole slew of people and organizations, especially the press. Psychiatrist Robert Lifton says, “He sees himself as constantly victimized [italics added] by others and by the society, from which he sees himself as fighting back. So there’s always an intensity to his destructive behavior that could contribute to his false beliefs.”
The fifth criterion for borderline personality disorder is suicide attempts and/or self-mutilation. I could not find any reports of Donald Trump engaging in these activities.
The sixth symptom Borderlines suffer from is serious identity disturbances. They often change their personalities and beliefs to match the people around them in order to be accepted or to gain an identity. They can become very good actors in the process. They have been called social chameleons because of their ever-changing personas. The Atlantic Magazine titled an article, “Donald Trump, Chameleon Extraordinaire.” During his campaign he continuously changed his positions on numerous topics. His latest opinions often reflect the last person or information he was exposed to. This along with his often noted short attention span sounds a lot like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Borderline personality disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are known to frequently occur together. Borderlines may have a hard time recalling any complex information. This could explain why Trump has such difficultly dealing with complex issues.
Trump changes his so-called beliefs with the seasons, daily or even in the same day. His political affiliations have been Democrat, Republican, Reformed Party, Democrat, Republican, Independent and now Republican again. So what does Donald Trump really believe? Who is he really? One person observed, “A quick observation: Donald Trump is not like normal people. In particular, he doesn’t have any principles to speak of, that might guide him. No moral compass.”
Those with borderline personality disorder have been likened to lava lamps with the dynamic, never the same, movement of the two liquids mimicking their ever-changing personalities, beliefs, and emotions. This cartoon, which appeared in The Blade © (Toledo, Ohio) on May 7, 2017, is representative of the Trump presidency.
Donald’s first wife Ivana Trump is reported to have said he had a problem having and keeping an erection. This could explain his hang-up with trying to portray himself as macho. On March 3, 2016 Trump provided a good example of trying to defend his masculinity. “Look at those hands, are they small hands?” Trump said, raising them for viewers to see. “And, he [Marco Rubio] referred to my hands — ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”
Borderlines are notorious for believing their own delusions and outright conscious lying to prop up their facade of being an all-good person. Compulsive lying is a characteristic feature of borderline personality disorder. This insight appears valuable in dealing with Donald Trump’s unrelenting pathologic lying and delusions. For Borderlines “feelings create facts” and “emotions hijack logic.” In dealing with all Borderlines it is important to trust your own recollection of facts and events if they differ from what a Borderline is saying.
Research has shown normal people have a bias toward internalizing and remembering positive social feedback they receive from others. On the contrary, Borderlines have a bias toward internalizing and remembering negative feedback they receive from others, which constantly reinforces their negative self-image. To counter others’ negative comments about him, Trump seemingly takes every opportunity he can to disparage them, even assigning nicknames to try to denigrate their credibility and enact revenge. Examples include, “Crooked Hillary,” “Little Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Low Energy Jeb,” “1 for 38 Kasich,” “Goofy Elizabeth Warren,” and “Crazy Bernie.” Trump’s denial of reality is regularly expressed when he takes aim at journalists and the media, calling any unfavorable report about him “Fake News” and denigrating all news media outlets but the few who parrot his lies.
The seventh criterion for diagnosing borderline personality disorder is that these individuals suffer from chronic feelings of emptiness. In order to fight these feelings they can become obsessed with seeking unending stimulation, possessions, love, and admiration. No matter what you do for them, they are never satisfied. They can never have enough. One phrase that describes them is, “It’s all about me.” Observe Donald Trump’s bottomless pit of neediness for attention and his ostentatious displays of wealth. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, he does not appear to really care about others. One person wrote an article, “Donald Trump: The least charitable billionaire in the world.”
In 1992 Julie Baumgold described Trump’s bottomless pit of needs this way, “Entertainment today, tonight, forever, and the void inside” and “Trump charges on, afflicted with…a restlessness so profound, a jumpiness and dissatisfaction, a giant sac of unmet needs that keeps him moving, always moving.” Timothy L. O’Brien, who in 2005 wrote Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald, believes Donald has this deep hole in his psyche that he is trying to fill with love.
The eighth borderline criteria is frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. In 2014 the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael D’Antonio conducted in-depth interviews with Donald Trump. This was Michael’s assessment:
Fear of being forgotten. Ultimately, Mr. Trump fears —more than anything else — being ignored, overlooked or irrelevant….Of this, however, Mr. Trump is certain: He needs the world’s attention and its embrace, a life force that has sustained him for decades. He recalled the feeling of walking into a giant room and watching as the crowd surrounded him, as if he were a magnet attracting everything around him. Mr. D’Antonio asked him when that first started. “Long time ago,” Mr. Trump replied. “It’s always been that way.” Did it ever unnerve him, the author wondered. “No,” Mr. Trump said. “I think what would unnerve me is if it didn’t happen.
This would explain his repeated delusional insistences that the crowd at his inauguration was bigger than it was and that he won the popular vote.
According to Trump’s aides:
“In almost all the interviews, Mr. Trump’s associates raised questions about his capacity and willingness to differentiate bad information from something that is true….Mr. Trump is an avid newspaper reader who still marks up a half-dozen papers with comments in black Sharpie pen, but Mr. Bannon has told allies that Mr. Trump only “reads to reinforce.” Mr. Trump’s insistence on defining his own reality — his repeated claims, for example, that he actually won the popular vote — is immutable and has had a “numbing effect” on people who work with him.”
Trump fears being abandoned by the American people, the paparazzi, tabloid press, mainstream media, television, and talk show hosts. This would equate with being one of his “losers.” At that point he would be all-bad. This so worries him that he constantly does and says anything in order to stir up conflict to keep the attention on him. This includes threatening nuclear war, which could mean the end of mankind.
When D’Antonio prodded him to do some soul-searching Trump said, “I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see.”
The ninth symptom of borderline personality disorder is that they can have transient stress-related paranoia or unreality episodes. Donald’s repeated utterances and media evaluations point out his classic paranoid ideas about all the bad people he imagines. He demonizes anyone who opposes him. It was reported on October 16, 2017 in Vanity Fair that Trump said to his security chief Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” At 4:56 AM on October 19, 2017 Trump tweeted, “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?” This is what CNN had to say about this tweet:
Faced this week with storylines he doesn’t like – questions about the Niger attack, controversy over a phone call he placed to the widow of one of the soldiers lost in that attack, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill facing questions about Russian meddling in the election – he aims to change the subject via his Twitter feed. And he often does so by lobbing out a conspiracy theory with only the loosest ties to the factual world.
But even by Trump standards, this morning’s tweet is somewhat remarkable. He is suggesting a dossier prepared by a former member of British intelligence has not only been totally discredited (it hasn’t – more on that in a minute) but that it might have been funded by some combination of Russia, the Democratic Party and, wait for it, the FBI!
Paranoid and unreal!
These are examples of someone lapsing into stress-related paranoia. It demonstrates a Borderline’s splitting of everything into all-good or all-bad categories. Since so many people are questioning his actions, which he interprets as attacks, his fragile self-image and coping skills crumble under the stress. The dissociation or unreality episodes and paranoia accelerates.
Donald will not drink alcohol. He attributes it to the fact that his brother died from the complications of alcoholism. Another explanation might be that he learned he lapses into unreality episodes or psychotic breaks if he drinks alcohol. Because of Borderlines’ shaky grasp of reality they are prone to experience these episodes when they drink alcohol or smoke marijuana. This predilection is a good indicator that someone may have borderline personality disorder.
Trump’s projections are apparent attempts to deflect attention away from his shortcomings. One writer sums up many of Trump’s insults as being projections of his own faults:
Trump embodies that old therapists’ saw, “perception is projection.” You can use this handy tool to locate the truth, exactly opposite from whatever he just said. He has a weight management problem, so women are “fat pigs.” He can’t stop fibbing, so his primary opponent becomes “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.” His career is rife with fraud so the former secretary of state becomes “Crooked Hillary.” He is terrified of ridicule, so Barack Obama is a “laughingstock.” When he says America’s a wasteland but he’ll make it great again, we know his secret fear.
Donald Trump has an astoundingly low emotional intelligence. The Oxford Dictionaries defines emotional intelligence as, “The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
People can have more than one personality disorder if they meet the criteria for each. It is widely believed that Donald Trump has narcissistic personality disorder. Neediness and impulsivity are the two traits in Borderlines that best distinguish them from narcissistic personality disorder. Trump exhibits these two traits in spades. So he may suffer from both conditions.
Does he also suffer from antisocial personality disorder? There is a good case to be made. Antisocial personality disorder (also known as psychopaths or sociopaths) has seven criteria (only three are needed):
1. Failure to conform to social norms. Check
2. Repeated lying. Check
3. Impulsive. Check
4. Aggressiveness and irritability. Check
5. Reckless disregard for the safety of others. Check
6. Consistent irresponsibility (failure to honor financial responsibilities – not paying his workers). Check
7. Lack of remorse for hurtful actions. Checkmate
Antisocial individuals must have the presence of a conduct disorder before age fifteen. Check. His father had to enroll him in the New York Military Academy at age thirteen because he was getting into so much trouble. Tellingly, he appears to have worked well in this highly structured environment, which is common for high-functioning Borderlines.
It thus appears that Donald Trump may be suffering from borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. These are the same three personality disorders Adolf Hitler is said to have suffered from.
In the two psychological biographies written about Adolf Hitler, Robert G. L. Waite’s The Psychopathic God Adolf Hitler and Hitler’s Psychopathology by Dr. Norbert Bromberg & Verna Small, the authors agree that Hitler had borderline personality disorder. Waite felt Hitler also had antisocial personality disorder while Bromberg & Small felt he also had narcissistic personality disorder. Many, including Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, have compared Trump’s actions and personality to that of Hitler. The comparisons appear justified. This has prompted some to give Donald the nickname “Adolf Trump.”