Dissecting the mind of Trump

I am one of many individuals around the world who continues to wonder, and of course to worry, what has become of the United States of America (USA) with Donald Trump as its president.

It makes one even wonder more if Trump really meant what he said when he made popular his rallying cry, ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA).

Or could it be that, for a populist president like Trump, what he wants his slogan to be, absolutely, is ‘Make Trump Great Again’ (MTGA).

It is for this reason that I reprinted here a very engrossing and thought-provoking article I found published in POLITICO Magazine and authored by Ms. Bandy X. Lee and Mr. Tony Schwartz because I want to share with you how ably and aptly they have dissected Trump’s mind and persona that only confirmed, without any doubt, who we truly believe Trump is and what his ambitions are as the leader of the greatest nation on Earth.

In a way this piece is comforting.

Inside the Mind of Donald Trump

He’s grandiose, deceitful and paranoid—but don’t let him drive you crazy.

By BANDY X. LEE and TONY SCHWARTZ

July 27, 2018

Why is President Donald Trump behaving in ways that seem ever more irrational, impulsive, self-destructive, dangerous and cruel? Many Americans have been shocked by Trump’s behavior, most recently by his taking the side of a known enemy in Vladimir Putin and Russia over his own intelligence community.

It isn’t possible to reliably diagnose any individual from a distance, but it is reasonable to flag clear, observable signs of impairment and to make inferences based on repetitive patterns of behavior. There is a significant difference between diagnosing a specific disorder and analyzing the meaning of the qualities Trump exhibits, such as paranoia, grandiosity, lack of empathy and pathological deceit. Trump’s behavior, we believe, is the predictable outgrowth of this psychological disposition, exacerbated by the stress of the intensifying criminal investigations he faces.

Our assessment is based on descriptions from those who have worked with him, his own voluminous responses to real situations in real time, and above all by our unique vantage points. One of us is a forensic psychiatrist who has treated more than 1,000 individuals with characteristics similar to Trump’s. The other spent 18 months shadowing, observing and interviewing Trump in order to co-write The Art of the Deal.

Trump’s increasing grandiosity is evident in the superlatives he uses to refer to himself—“stable genius” among them—and in the way he has consolidated his power by getting rid of aides and Cabinet members who have challenged his authority. Because no person or circumstance can possibly satisfy his needs, nearly everyone in his life eventually becomes expendable, and he becomes more and more isolated.

Trump’s growing paranoia is reflected in the vitriolic comments he has made about a range of perceived enemies, including Democrats and Republicans, allies in the G-7, the intelligence community, the news media and immigrants. His hunger for absolute power is evident in his bizarrely admiring words about despots, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. His frequent lies reveal his need to redefine reality when the truth doesn’t serve his needs.

Given Trump’s volatility, incuriosity and severely limited attention span, his decisions are not significantly influenced by reflection or analytical reasoning. Because he cannot tolerate even the mildest criticism, he is largely immune to learning and growth. Instead, unable to regulate his emotions, he reacts angrily, and often with threats of revenge, to any challenge to his authority. Even success provides him with only momentary satisfaction.

Trump’s psychological disposition has profound implications for our personal, national and international security. Unfortunately, Americans remain deeply reluctant to talk openly about mental health or to recognize how profoundly it can influence behavior. Because the president’s level of mental impairment is so unusual to observe, it is difficult for most of us to understand what catastrophic desperation such people can feel to fill their own inner sense of emptiness.

Trump described to Tony a cold father with whom his relationship was “almost businesslike” and a mother who was mostly uninvolved in his life. Through Bandy’s work interviewing men who were deprived in childhood of the love and support necessary to develop a core self, she concluded that the stable internal center that holds their beliefs, principles, attachments, loyalties—and even their capacity for humanity—never gets well established.

Instead, most such men become almost completely dependent on others for their sense of self-worth. They become hypersensitive to slights. In the most extreme cases, their envy can prompt them to take sadistic pleasure in tormenting perceived enemies, and those they think are getting more respect than they are. In Trump’s case, his need to demonstrate over and over that he is worthy of admiration overwhelms his capacity to focus on nearly anything else.

While our elected officials and much of the news media have avoided the topic of Trump’s mental health, it is clear that our adversaries have carefully studied his psychological weaknesses and determined how to use them to their advantage, as we saw during his negotiations with Putin and Kim Jong Un. Ironically, our own intelligence community does just this sort of analysis about foreign leaders.

Trump’s grip on reality will likely continue to diminish as he faces increasing criticism, accusations, threats of impeachment and potential criminal indictments. We can expect him to become more desperate, more extreme in his comments, more violent in his threats, and more reckless and destructive in his actions. His latest extreme threat to Iran is one example, and he is likely to return to similar threats to North Korea if he feels that Kim Jong Un is making him look weak and unsuccessful.

So how can we hold onto our own mental health in the face of the danger Trump poses? First, don’t use logic or rationality to try to understand or counter Trump’s statements and behaviors. He is driven not by reason but by negative emotions that are infectious. Trump thrives on creating fear and sowing confusion. He lies without guilt. Don’t match his emotion with your own.

Second, be clearer than ever about your core values, beliefs and principles, and rely on them for guidance and comfort, especially when you are feeling most triggered and fearful. Challenge every day the natural inclination to feel overwhelmed, fatigued or numb in the face of Trump’s behavior. This is what people with his psychological inclinations count on. Trump is aware that whatever he says repeatedly—no matter how outrageous—many people are more likely to believe, or at least to stop resisting.

Lastly, recognize that fear is your enemy. Holding onto the opposites of realism and optimism is the best antidote. James Stockdale, a Navy vice admiral, was imprisoned for eight years in North Vietnam and tortured repeatedly. What he said afterward about how he survived is relevant for anyone dealing with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Bandy X. Lee is assistant clinical professor in law and psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a project leader for the World Health Organization.

Tony Schwartz is the chief executive of The Energy Project and the co-author of The Art of the Deal.

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Duterte’s scandalous choice of Arroyo

 

Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaces Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker of the House

I do not know how else to describe the Dutertes preference for former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the speakership of the House replacing Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, but one that is scandalous for several reasons.

When I say ‘Dutertes’, I actually mean Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and her daughter, Sara, who is presently the mayor of Davao City and the one identified as having orchestrated the coup against Alvarez.

There is no doubt that the Dutertes preference for Arroyo translated into a sealed victory for the latter, especially knowing that Duterte’s allies control the House. It was clearly seen as a rebuff of Alvarez’s leadership and his arrogant and ambitious persona that knew no respect for his co-equals in government, more so for those lower in rank.

I have no words of compassion for Alvarez, but like many, I only have disdain for the man, as he bitterly savors the taste of his own medicine.

But why choose a corruption-plagued former president as a replacement for Alvarez?

As it is, we are still divided as people and the support and election of Arroyo is not only scandalous in nature but is adding more crack to the chasm that already exist among us.

If the Dutertes believe that Arroyo can be used as an instrument to unite the people, I think they haven’t accurately felt the pulse of the people.

The Filipino people has had enough of former president Arroyo, after being involved in major anomalies such as the Fertilizer Fund scam, the Hello Garci controversy, the National Broadband Network scandal, the Northrail controversy, etc. This is not even mentioning the corruption charges filed against Arroyo’s husband and son.

The fact the Arroyo was under hospital arrest for charges of electoral fraud and misuse of millions of dollars in state lottery funds speak volumes of the kind of leader she is.

Very ironic, indeed, that Duterte, who won the presidency on the promise, among other things, to work for a corrupt-free society has taken into his fold a high profile corrupt politician. Sad to say it simply defeats the purpose of the Duterte presidency.

Certainly, Arroyo’s ascendancy as the leader of the House does not augur well for the country.

Hope the Dutertes realize this sooner than later.

Robredo leads opposition against Duterte

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

I do not know why the political opposition, headed by the Liberal Party (LP), is making a big deal about Vice President Leni Robredo spearheading it.

It simply follows that because Robredo is the highest ranking government official in the land belonging to the LP who has shown her dislike in the way President Duterte is running the country, not to mention the colorful language he uses, and has been seen to be taking the cudgels for those being the subject of Duterte’s ire, that she has the moral authority to lead.

The question, however, is – can she deliver?

Does she have the ‘oomph’, meaning the intensity, effectiveness and sustainability to deliver the blow of political issues against Duterte that will cause people to rally behind her and upset the president?

Robredo may have the charm, but charm is not what it takes to unsettle a formidable and savvy opponent like Duterte.

Robredo may be a lawyer, but against Duterte she is doomed!

The fact alone that Duterte has described her as not fit to be president of a country like the Philippines because of incompetence speaks volumes.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace welcomes an “active” opposition as part of a healthy democracy.

A ‘strong’ opposition is a more apt description, but with Robredo at the helm there is no doubt that it is going to be a weak opposition and surely will be steamrolled by Duterte and his PDP-Laban supporters.

To start with it is not enough that one has to criticize immediately the country as having a ‘worsening economy’ as Robredo described it, piqued after being called incompetent by Duterte.

If that is how she sees it then, for chrissake, offer a solution!

I don’t think the economic stride Duterte has gained during his just two years in office can be scoffed at.

If Robredo and her rabble rousers have better ideas to improve the economy, then help the government by suggesting it.

Otherwise, let us trust the economists who have forecasted that the Philippine economy is expected to grow at a robust pace this year and next on the back of a buoyant expansion in fixed investment, which is benefiting from the government’s infrastructure investment program.

The continuing Duterte-Sison feud

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and CPP’s Jose Maria Sison.

The off and on relationship between President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria Sison is, to many, making a mockery of the peace process.

I say this because there are times when they laud and fatten each other’s ego, having experienced a teacher-student relationship, but most of the time they indulge in name calling and going after each other’s neck.

This time it is even worst because Sison is belittling and discrediting Duterte’s earnest and resolute war against illegal drugs that was engulfing the whole country already by calling the latter a “protector” of the drug trade.

What is even more despicable is that Sison also accused Duterte’s son, Paolo, as also being involved in the drug trade.

While it is true that Paolo and his brother-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, were both accused of being involved in the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of illegal drug (shabu) in the country, a fact-finding panel of the Office of the Ombudsman later cleared them of involvement.

So why say something offensive when it is water under the bridge already?

The question is, how serious really is Sison and his elk in establishing peace with the Duterte government?

Describing Duterte also as ‘the most effective ‘destabilizer of his own administration’ is ill-advised and idiotic thing to say knowing very well that the president not only has the backing of the people, including the police and military forces, but is dead serious in talking and settling peacefully with all the rebel groups in the country, the CPP included.

I understand that the formal resumption of peace talks was scheduled to proceed on June 28 in Norway, but it did not push through as Duterte said he wants more public consultations before returning to the negotiating table.

The postponement did not sit well, however, with Sison.

Perhaps Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was right in saying that Sison is “doomed to irrelevance” whether or not the latter decides to return to the Philippines.

“Whatever you do Mr. Sison you are doomed to irrelevance. You remain in the Netherlands and you will be forgotten because the President has decided with finality that the talks would be held in our country. You come back and you will end up in jail,” he said.

Indeed, what an opportunity lost.

Lorenzana pointed out that Philippines has progressed a lot despite Sison’s destabilization efforts in the past few decades. He also said that the CPP’s army, the New People’s Army (NPA), is surrendering in droves.

Sison seems to be reaping now the ignominious price of being old and petulant for staying too long in a foreign land and not facing the reality in his own land.

Duterte’s ‘perplexing’ popularity

 

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman

I am simply amused at how Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman described Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity – ‘perplexing’.

Why would it be difficult for him to understand Duterte’s popularity?

Perhaps what would be more difficult for him and those like him in the opposition to understand is why over 16 million Filipinos voted for the man from Mindanao to be president?

“It is a puzzle that despite the failure of President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver most of his campaign promises, his irreverence to established institutions, including the Catholic Church, his unpatriotic surrender to China’s expansionism in the West Philippine Sea, his policy equivocation, and his antihuman rights record, he still enjoys a high popularity rating across classes in his second year in office,” Lagman said in a statement.

What an absurdity!

This, after Duterte scored a net satisfaction rating of +56 during the first quarter of 2018, which according to Social Weather Stations survey is considered as “very good”.

Lagman even showed arrogance when he bad-mouth the intellect of the electorate, saying, “they like a leader who is authoritative even in his blunders and blabbering and that they simply want to justify their choice, however errant it may have been. ”

Excuse me?

What Lagman is actually trying to say is that Duterte does not act presidential, does not talk presidential and is, in general, an aberration to the presidency.

Lagman who pretends to be the epitome of decency in words and deeds should recognize and accept by now that the likes of him have failed to move this country forward and majority of Filipinos have lost faith in them and their style of leadership.

That is why Duterte continues to remain popular because the people like what they see in him and admire how much he cares for the country and its citizens no matter his bloody war on drugs, alleged extra-judicial killings, China’s incursion into the West Phil. Sea, and the ‘stupid-God’ comment of the Catholic religion.

Duterte has just completed his two years in office as he continues waging war also against corruption and criminality, as he has promised, and one cannot just deny that the country’s economy is doing better despite his non-presidential traits.

Perhaps what Lagman could do in his solitude is to reflect what could it have been had Poe, Roxas or Binay been the president?

Robredo’s idle talk

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

Between Leni Robredo and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos I had and will always opt for the former. The latter is a disgrace to the nation and should not be given any more the honor to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, much less to be in the seat of power like his despot father.

Robredo herself is a disappointment, no matter how she tries to emulate the leadership style of her much admired husband, the late Jesse Robredo, who served as the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino from 2010 until his death in 2012.

It is bad enough that Robredo is not assisting nor contributing much to the development of the country under the Duterte administration, but it is even worst that instead of doing something worthy of her position she has joined the opposition in criticizing President Duterte’s leadership.

I understand she has become inutile because she has not been given a role to play in the running of the government, but if indeed her intention is to help shape the progress of the nation in order to alleviate the plight of the poor then she should put the nation ahead of her political affiliation and interests.

Robredo’s idle talk when she spoke before the Rotary Club of Makati recently, saying, “….. the fate of our country lies not in the hands of a strong leader, but in the collective courage and action of our people” is even making her more irrelevant and useless.

The truth is that Robredo is not only contradicting herself but is likewise denying that what we are today as a nation, where regional and world leaders are showing their respect and recognizing the economic progress the country has been attaining, owes much to the strong leadership of Duterte.

For as long as Robredo and her cohorts are blinded by Duterte’s war on drug issue, human right issue and other controversial issues emanating from the uncouth mouth of the president, they will never learn to appreciate how Duterte is leading the country.

In slamming Duterte, Robredo talks about “leaders who will inspire others not just to follow but to lead as well.”

Why, is Duterte not empowering government officials to lead?

Duterte is known not to micromanage, thus, I have never seen a president giving so much leeway by allowing/enabling government officials to do as they please, but with a caveat – don’t’ be corrupt or else!

If Robredo can only use her own mind and be objective and pragmatic in her approach, she could be an asset to the Duterte’s administration.

But for as long as she allows to be influenced and makes political convenience her priority she will be remembered as the most useless vice president ever elected.

 

A meeting with God

I came across this video and I found it somehow relative to the preceding article I wrote concerning President Duterte’s ‘Stupid God’ comment.

Just sharing this with you for information, enlightenment and perhaps for reflection because as complex as the subject of religion is one does not have to be overwhelmed by it.

Since we are endowed with the ability to think we simply have to be pragmatic in order to understand who we are, why we exist and what really matters most in life.

Listen, analyze with an open mind and make the right discernment.

I find this simply interesting, as it is intriguing.