The column below is courtesy of Robert L. Schmidt
One of my favorite quirky movies from the 1960s is The President’s Analyst starring James Coburn. Coburn plays a psychologist, Dr. Sidney Schaefer, who is profoundly affected by his new patient, the U.S. President.
It’s a movie that is loaded with two of my favorite things-cynicism and sarcasm (satire is a kinder but less descriptive word). Coburn’s character absorbs all the emotional baggage that comes with holding the world’s most stressful job, but since everything the President tells him is top secret, he can’t pass any of that baggage along to somebody else. He develops a deep seated paranoia that “they” are all trying to get him, and it turns out he’s right. The U.S. CEA (Central Enquiries Agency) and FBR (Federal Bureau of Regulation) are concerned he knows too much, and every other world power joins in the hunt (or in Canada’s case, want to be world power).
The movie is a farce, another of my favorite things. My novel Natural Born Leader asks the reader to believe a character who looks like Cary Grant but has the mind of Beaver Cleaver could compete neck and neck with a second character who is a New York real estate billionaire called The Ronald for the Republican presidential nomination (OK, based on the election it’s half a farce). The President’s Analyst asks the viewer to believe a U.S. president could need psychoanalysis.
Welcome to another example where fiction becomes reality, because based on The Donald’s recent wiretapping accusations, he does. Hollywood is big on remakes, but if they greenlight The President’s Analyst II, it should be a documentary starring The Donald.
The notion The Donald would ever seek professional help is as fantastic as most of his tweets, of course, mostly due to many of the disorders I’ll describe. The only “psycho-therapy” in The Donald’s immediate future will be the venomous rants of Steve Bannon. My mom is a psychologist, but I elected to study microbiology. I preferred a field where I could see my subject matter, even if it took a microscope. People are visible to the naked eye, but you can’t see their thoughts. Psychology may or may not be in my genes, but who can resist a game of amateur diagnosis when the subject is our Sybil-in-chief.
The Donald repeatedly accused a former president of tapping his phones, apparently without hard evidence. This sounds like an accusation based purely on unfounded, irrational and extreme distrust and suspicion of others. We’ve just defined paranoia. The recent reports that some information was gathered in what appears to be routine intelligence gathering doesn’t satisfy the intent of these Trump tweets. He implied his phones were being tapped as part of a conspiracy between Obama and some unnamed U.S. intelligence agency.
Then again, maybe in The Donald’s imagination, Obama donned a cleaning service maid’s disguise and was tip toeing behind The Donald’s desk while he fired out his daily tweet storm. I keep trying to picture President Obama doing this, but an image of Flip Wilson’s Geraldine keeps popping into my head. It also reeks of paranoia when we hear that The Donald wants his political “Commissars” in each government agency to serve as loyalty overseers. His agency heads were already selected based on their friendship to The Donald, not their experience or knowledge, but he apparently needs another level of control to keep an eye on his own appointees and their staffs.
Paranoia’s co-pilots are delusion and denial, and The Donald seems to live in an imaginary world where everyone loves him. The new, new math must mean 40% is now a majority. Stealing from an old phrase, for The Donald, de Nile is a river where terrorists get their water.
In my book, one of The Ronald’s lines is “everyone agrees with me that digging a moat between the U.S. and Mexico is a great plan.” In The Donald’s mind, Mexicans are all busy pooling their pesos to pay for his wall. Then again, delusion and denial may be a form of self-preservation. Given the setbacks to his travel ban and the repeal of Obamacare, his supporters aren’t exactly “getting sick of” winning. Delusion and denial aren’t great characteristics for a leader. To quote from Hitler, history’s delusion and denial champion, a few months before Stalingrad fell, “We have it now. Only a few small pockets of resistance are left.”
You can’t assess The Donald’s personality without using some form of the word narcissism. It feeds his myth of invincibility, which grows more mythical with each setback in his presidency. We need confident leaders, but controlling, dismissive bullies do more harm than good. Narcissism, paranoia, delusion, denial and insecurity have given us a president who seems to spend as much time monitoring and responding to the press as he does monitoring and responding to domestic and world issues. Driving our national policy through Twitter is reckless when the man behind the wheel is a thin-skinned insomniac motivated by retaliation and revenge. It may get him the attention that fuels his metabolism, but most of that attention won’t be good.
I haven’t used a lot of what we scientists call sciencey words. The handshake incident with Chancellor Merkel could be a sign of mysophobia, haphephobia or germophobia (fear of germs or contact) but it could have just been a senior moment (narcissists don’t wear hearing aids). He is definitely histrionic (attention seeking) and he suffers from anhedonia (lack of interest) when it concerns the president’s administrative duties or the plight of the poor.
Like most politicians, the one psychological ailment The Donald doesn’t suffer from is low self-esteem (no definition required). As for the rest of what makes the man tick, he’s cheating an army of psychiatrists out of what could have been their life’s work. The Donald should start writing those royalty checks out now to Cypress Hill so he can lock down his re-election campaign’s theme song:
Insane in da membrane
Insane in da brain