To the Editor:
There is a lot of news lately about President Trump’s mental stability and his fitness to do the job. I am a retired Clinical Social Worker with 50 years of experience in the mental health field. I believe the current pronouncements are distorted and do not reflect a real understanding of mental illness.
There are three main categories: psychosis, neurosis, and personality disorder. Psychosis is a psychotic state of mind characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Neurosis is most associated with anxiety and depression. Personality disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They reflect one’s view of the world and one’s role in it.
For example, a person may be very suspicious and angry as a way of behaving, and would, therefore, believe that others think like he thinks, since that is his view of the world. He may develop a paranoid personality disorder believing others are as angry and suspicious as he is.
For some time, President Trump has been described as a narcissistic personality. One definition of this disorder is described as one having an inflated sense of their own importance, as a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. Behind their mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. Actors and musicians tend to be narcissistic and you can see that in their troubled relationships and divorce drama. But, if they can maintain their popularity, they remain somewhat stable.
My point is that persons with personality disorders can be very effective as long as their life circumstances support their view of the world and of themselves. If that is seriously disrupted, then the person reverts to extreme measures to reestablish their esteem, power, or position that they feel they have lost.
President Trump has been very successful in making money and promoting himself into positions of power and influence. His intuition about issues that stir people’s emotions is amazing. His raising the “Birther” issues about Obama tapped into a feeling for many in the United States even if it wasn’t true. But, the inability to maintain this pinnacle of admiration will likely lead to more serious dysfunction.