Fears of abandonment is likely what is driving Donald Trump’s revengeful stripping away of the security clearance from former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan. It could also be driving his plans to withdraw the security clearances of others in our security agencies who have spoken out against or do not support his actions. Profound fears of abandonment are one of the nine criteria for diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder in Europe.
Those with BPD feel so devastated by being criticized or abandoned by someone important to them that they often feel compelled to seek revenge upon that individual or group. This because they don’t know who they are (an identity disturbance which is another criterion for diagnosing BPD); their identity depends on the people around them providing an identity by the praise they receive. When someone questions or abandons them it is seen as an extreme betrayal causing emotional distress leading to their lashing out and determination to seek revenge. So tenuous does Trump’s self-esteem and identity appear to be that he demands the attention and admiration of the whole world.
Trump seemingly views everyone as all-good or all-bad (this is called splitting and is another of the nine criteria used to diagnose BPD). Thus, anyone who questions or opposes him is seen as all-bad. He invariably criticizes or attacks them.
Here is what Michael Barbaro had to say about Donald Trump in the New York Times:
“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.’”
It appears Trump fears that when individuals criticize or abandon him, it will cause others to also abandon him ultimately leading to his becoming irrelevant or a “loser” as he has called so many other individuals and groups.