ESTP Shadow Personality Case Study: Donald Trump

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Donald Trump under stress

January 6th Rally and Riot. Trump finally succumbs to “Battle Fatigue” and an Unchained Mouth

Well, he finally did it, didn’t he? Trump has convinced people in the middle of the political spectrum that he indeed is as crazy as his detractors have long maintained.

As I cautioned in my earlier post on Trump’s Mental Breakdown, mental health professionals should not be diagnosing a conclusion of mental illness for people who are not their patients. Unfortunately, some professionals have borrowed the tactics of political pundits to make long distance declarations of mental unfitness. If these people had understood the Myers-Briggs interpretations of Carl Jung’s Personality Types, they would have more likely viewed the behavior of Trump and the events that have surrounded him in light of his personality type – ESTP.


Why I chose to write about Trump and Personality Type

Four years ago, I began using Donald Trump as a case study to exhibit several aspects of personality type. His public persona was on stage for all to see and unlike many personalities we encounter in the media, his was not manicured to create an image. Typical of clear Extraverted Personality Types – What you see is what you get.

In my studies of personality, drawing upon the concepts developed by Carl Jung (and elaborated by Isabel Myers and those who further developed the Myers-Briggs scheme of understanding people) I’ve found a person’s personality is a composite and interaction of two somewhat opposite parts of a person’s nature: an inner (or Introverted) self and an outer (or Extraverted) self. These polarities of Introversion and Extraversion are perhaps Jung’s notions of personality that have been most broadly adopted into general psychology.

Jung’s other mental polarities, Sensing vs Intuition and Thinking vs Feeling, have been less broadly recognized but are essential to those of us who have found Personality Type a useful means of understanding people, their personalities and their behavior.

In my view, Donald Trump well illustrates the interplay of these key Jungian concepts. His Personality Type pattern is ESTP which is decoded in Myers-Briggs terminology as Extraversion (E), Sensing(S), Thinking(T), and Perceiving(P). While these are the primary facets of an ESTP personality, there are three hidden components that are also part of the overall picture and influence. In this case it is the ESTP person’s Introversion(I), Intuition(N), and Feeling(F). The diagram I call a Type Face that illustrates the pattern of all the important personality processes.

estp personality type
ESTP Type Face

Extraverted Sensing is the core of an ESTPs being. Thinking is supportive, but Introverted and operating in the background. INtuitive perception is also hidden and quietly playing a role. Feeling is out there, up front but secondary to Sensing.

ESTP Extraversion: Sensing and Feeling

As I referenced in my first article on Donald Trump’s Personality Type, he is “way out there” on the Extraversion component of personality, more extreme than most other ESTP personalities. A result of this extreme extraversion is his “mouth often gets ahead of his thinking mind. For an extravert who is at the far end of the scale, notions and thoughts can’t be analyzed until they are out there, actually spoken.” (See the Type Face diagram illustrating that Thinking(T) is an Introverted process for ESTPs)

In Donald Trump’s case due to his extreme extraversion, his introverted nature it is hidden, operating in the background. Not only hidden to others, but possibly hidden to Trump himself (which is why he needs to talk things out).

In contrast Trump’s Feeling(F) is extraverted and “out there” as is Sensing(S). Both characteristics are well seen/heard by the way he talks. You witness his Sensing in clipped manner of speaking; his speech lacks the nuisances and complexity one finds with people who are governed by Intuition; it is plain and to the point. He focuses on tangible results and is impatient with too much talk and not enough action. His Feeling nature is on display when people and things are described in emotion-laden terms: Great or Terrible, Really Good Guy or Really Bad Guy, Terrific or Sad, etc.

Only in rare occasions does Trump’s Inner Intuition and Thinking voice get heard. While these processes primarily act in the background, they are part of how he understands the world and of what he believes. They are hidden by the spokesperson for Trump, which is his extraverted Sensing and Feeling self.

Downside of Extraverted Sensing: Case Study

The Collapse of Order and Loss of Control – The Capitol Fiasco. Strength becomes weakness.

All Extraverts are energized by their environment. Trump as an off-the-chart extravert is particularly energized by others. As Sensing Extravert he is very action-oriented, loves to make things happen and be in the mix of whatever is going on. The energy from interacting with others is his life force. His “Make America Great Again” Rallies were an adrenalin high; moments he lives for. Where others would get fatigued by all this public speaking, for Trump doing one rally provides increased energy for doing the next one. This is normal for clear extraverted sensing people. As an effective communicator, Trump in his rallies easily energized his audiences whose reactions send even more energy to Trump. Almost everyone at the rallies was riding along on an adrenalin high, awash in Feeling and Sensing celebration.

Intuition and Thinking: Mental Faculties which aid Problem Anticipation

Intuition and Thinking are the key components in the effective analysis of the consequences of behavior, the logical sorting out what might or might not happen. They provide a pattern of what might develop. The ability to accurately forecast potential problems are the product of Intuition and Thinking acting in concert. For the ESTP personality type these two processes are part of the Introverted personality pattern.

An extreme extravert with the ESTP personality pattern can only access these processes by bringing them out in the open, talking them through and then hearing them spoken. Think or analyze first and then speak is not the style of this Personality Type. And it is especially not going to happen speaking to an energized and energizing crowd of hundreds of thousands of people. The Mouth is unchained.

At the Rally of all Rallies on January 6, 2021 Trump spoke from a culmination of four years of his feeling of injustice to a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people who also are aggrieved with a sharp sense of injustice; people who in their ordinary lives have been parlayed into silence and submission of their values but have taken solace in the fact that Trump was fighting for them. The proverbial Perfect Storm was brewing.

January 6th – Bureaucratic Incompetence: Lack of Clear Thinking and Insight?

Was the lack of adequate preparation and protection of the Capitol just incompetence or political gamesmanship to allow some misbehavior as part of a fuller Trump discrediting? Hard to fathom that intelligent people wouldn’t consider that with a planned 30,000 people in attendance there could be more than a handful of people whose sense of injustice is so powerful that bad things could happen. Mix in some professional provocateurs and street performers and you have a formula for what happened.

While people will point to Trump being deaf and blind to this possibility, that finger could be pointed to many others in positions of power and authority to avoid the catastrophe and who should have been more clear-eyed to anticipate what happened. Feelings have been so strong at both ends of the political spectrum that clear Thinking was in short supply.

Many influential actors in our society failed to understand Trump’s “normal” ESTP nature. ESTPs are gamers; they are the ultimate performers. They play to win; they don’t back down. When knocked down, they get back up determined to succeed. They are optimists and wily competitors who believe they can overcome whatever obstacles are in their path.

The actions of Trump’s opponents and turns of events since the election had backed Trump ever closer into a corner. Did clear-eyed, clear thinking, really smart people really expect him to submit – “Okay, you won, I give up.” “Come On Man, be real” as our current President might say. His type of personality fights to end, goes down with the ship. And that is what happened, with collateral damage. The level of hatred for the “despicable” Trump was so widespread that clear Thinking and accurate Intuitive understanding were in short supply.

Yes, Trump’s Extraverted Sensing and Feeling nature were complicit in his downfall. He allowed himself to be polarized into losing touch with an important part of his nature (his Introverted side).

Also complicit in the Capitol Fiasco – the explosion of violence on January 6th and the lack of preparation – is an ever-increasing environment where the interplay of Feeling and Thinking in governing all manners of institutions and social intercourse has become imbalanced, leading to a Pandemic of corrupted Thinking. (See the Gad Saad Video below)

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Infectious Ideas vs. Common Sense – Dr. Gad Saad

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