As reported in the Washington Examiner (11/9/2019), a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist, Dr. Brandy Lee, is leading a group of medical professionals “. . . who claim that President Trump’s mental health makes him dangerous and unfit for office. . .” and the group wants to testify to that assessment before members of Congress. Lee and her group believe that as the impeachment proceedings move forward “. . . the more dangerous the psychological factors of the president will become.”
This assertion that Trump is a “crazy man” continues a narrative in place even before he became President and substantially increased in volume and publicity since he won election. This assertion of Trump’s mental instability was one reason why I wrote my initial article in January 2016 explaining Trump’s ESTP personality pattern and how what we see in Trump is “normal” for his ESTP personality type. While Trump isn’t a garden-variety ESTP, everything we see and what people attribute as mentally unwell is consistent with his personality type and his life experiences.
In a follow-up article on both Trump and Hillary’s personality types, I predicted that if elected Trump “. . . will morph into a kinder, softer version of what we have seen during the campaign.” I predicted it will be “Trump the Negotiator not Trump the Entertainer who will be running the new show.” Well that didn’t happen did it? As I admitted in my follow-up article on Can Trump Change his Personality the continued aggression against Trump by the media, political opponents, and medical professionals like Dr. Lee were among the forces that would prevent Trump from evolving into a gentler, more compassionate version of himself.
Mental Illness Versus Normal Personality Differences
Dr. Lee is an example of people whose professional focus and experience involves dealing with mental illness and people undergoing psychological stress. Often these professionals are not very expert in understanding “normal” personality differences. Their “professional lens” is focused on viewing deviations from an arbitrary norm as abnormal and undersirable.
Trump’s transgressions have been so extreme in the eyes of mental health professionals like Dr. Lee that they ignore the American Psychiatric Associations ethics rule 7.3 known as the “Goldwater Rule:”
“. . . it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”
At the time of adoption of this rule in 1964 APA Medical Director Walter Barton, M.D. commented on tying political partisanship to the psychiatric profession “has, in effect, administered a low blow to all who would work to advance the treatment and care of the mentally ill of America.”
That statement was true in 1964 and even more so today. Those who desire to “advance the treatment and care of the mentally ill” are facing great challenges (homeless problems, school shootings, to name just a few) and need broad-based support.
Armchair psychiatrists and psychologists like Dr. Lee (who happen to have some academic credentials . . . but not common sense) undercut the credibility of the professions they represent. While considering themselves “experts” in mental abnormality, I submit they have a lot to learn about normal personality development.
True Trump is Different and Extreme, but not mentally ill
In my earlier articles I have offered examples of how and why Trump’s behavior is a reflection of normal personality differences. In terms of the different kinds of normal personalities (using the Myers-Briggs typology of 16 types), the kind exhibited by Donald Trump (ESTP) is less common (4.8% of population) and is particularly less common among health professionals.
ESTP Personality Types:
- rarely enter politics
- rarely pursue a career in government
- rarely pursue a career in higher education
- rarely pursue a career in political journalism
ESTP personality types are more commonly found in professional sports and in sales oriented businesses and in entrepreneurial endeavors. They are drawn to competitive situations where their skillful performance makes the difference in winning and losing.
Life Success, Aging, & Personality Growth and Development
Politics being such an atypical career choice for an ESTP, I doubt whether a young Donald Trump would have ever entered politics; it just isn’t the type of game that provides the kind of challenges that feed what motivates ESTP types.
But having won and been successful in his niche for many years, an ESTP personality like Trump needs new challenges. A new challenge in a quite different environment has appeal. Trump is approaching politics as a sporting endeavor he has watched play out for many years with a fair amount of criticism on how it is being played. He is changing how the game is played and having fun doing it; which is another hallmark of his personality type.
Successful People Don’t Change their Winning Formula
I’ve found that people I know who’ve been successful in business as they age tend to evolve less as they approach middle age and beyond. Why change what has worked? And ESTP types are particularly wedded to this maxim.
So Trump’s style of how he handled and won the primaries and the general election have served to validate Trump continuing his atypical style while in office. He like other ESTPs, greatly trust their instincts about things. Why change a winning formula?
Trash-Talking is Part of Winning
Politics has become a game with two teams vying for victory over the other – the Democrat team versus the Republican team. Trash talking is the latest new strategy for winning – demonize and intimidate your opponent. Much of the media has bought into this and profited from reporting on and fueling the high level of competition. And we the fans (i.e. voters) have joined in the fun taking sides rooting for one of the two teams.
The political environment has become toxic with all parties, including the media and entertainment sectors, to blame. Will cooperation and finding ways to meet in the middle ever again work? I am not optimistic as it seems our two party system favors this win-lose environment.