Trump: Alexander or Hitler?

There is of late, no shortage of phenomenological comparisons between Trump and Hitler….

Other similarities include repression of the press, fondness for mass rallies, and use of propaganda ministers (Goebbels vs Spicer and Conway)  who like “alternative truth” but that’s probably where the similarity ends….

 

 

There are justifiable (republican) cynics of this comparison….

Lets see if we can clarify the picture a bit. To do so we must look at the psychodynamics of these men or what we know of them, and at a cross-sectional view of signs and symptoms and observable conduct.

There has been a lot written about Hitler’s psychiatric picture, but we need to look first at how a diagnosis is arrived at. In psychiatry it is essentially symptom based; lab tests, or scans are not of much help.

We depend on history and observation. The APA doesn’t like the idea of so-called psychohistory or analysis of celebrities or historical figures without a clinical examination. But since what we learn about an individual really depends on watching and listening and biography, I don’t have a problem as long as the caveat is that the diagnosis is provisional and based on inferences.

What does seem very clear is that both Donald and Adolph have narcissistic features also referred to psychodiagnostically as cluster B traits. This is a spectrum  that includes psychopathy, narcissistic personality and borderline disorder. They do blend in with each other hence the cluster designation. One of the defining characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, from which many observers believe Trump suffers, is an inability to be empathic This is consistent with his competitiveness, his need to defeat others, his taunting and bullying. He doesn’t try to understand why someone might be criticizing his decisions or questioning his actions; he simply dismisses them. This does sound a bit like Adolf.

I written about Alexander of Macedonia and it is tempting to make comparisons with him as well.But what I have concluded is that Alexander had a healthier narcissism as opposed to Donald and Adolf’s more malignant variety.  In addition Alexander was a great war general. Trump was a Vietnam draft dodger, so nothing there. Adolf at least fought in the Great War.

Alexander had an ego the size of an elephant as did Hitler and Trump. Alexander had more gold than he could carry, and you can argue that Trump has too much money, however Alexander gave gold to his troops whereas Trump rips off workers.

Both have had multiple wives from different countries, both cannot accept no as an answer and both inherited power from their father. Not so in Adolph’s case as his father was an abusive jerk and a lower middle class civil servant.

Alexander by all accounts treated women well and respectfully whereas the same cannot be said for Donald or Adolf.

Type B’s often do not have healthy sexuality and both Hitler and Trump are said to have had sex deviancies along urinary lines but this is very controversial. Alexander was bisexual but nothing else is documented.

In understanding narcissism we look to the earliest object relations and find that narcissistic disorders may be linked to mismatches in the parent-child relationships with either excessive pampering or excessive criticism.

What we know of Alexander is that his mother was a doting and self-esteem enhancing, albeit flaky woman who liked pet snakes. His father continued the ego inflating by encouraging him to achieve greatness as did his mentor Aristotle. Thus the end result is a narcissism that is a natural outcome of his character development. It lead him to the conquest of much of the known world but he was empathic towards his enemies. The best example of that was his generous treatment of King Porus after the latter’s defeat at battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC.

Hitler’s mother was caring and protective but father was irascible, abusive and critical. His narcissism then becomes a defence against low self-esteem. It is a character armour, but a fragile one and in the face of set backs was met with unpredictable mood swings and rages, homicidal behaviour and paranoid aggression with the convenient scapegoat of Judaism. And in looking at the symptoms and behaviours what we end up with is a borderline personality. This turns out to be a common feature of many serial killers.

Donald Trump grew up in privilege but I find that in the biographical record there is nothing to suggest that he experienced anything but a loving relationship with his mother and father. Clearly like Alexander there was considerable paternal role modeling but with a major difference: Alexander’s mentor was Aristotle where he was instructed in ethics- not so with Donald, or Adolf for that matter. It’s hard to imagine anyone better qualified to teach moral theory than Aristotle.

Narcissistic people like Trump may seek glorification over and over, but not necessarily because they suffered from negative family dynamics as children. Rather, they simply cannot get enough. Furthermore he is an extreme high energy extrovert with an undistinguished academic record. We also know that as a child he was a bully, defiant, and his parents put him in military school to instill discipline. While in grade school, Donald impressed his classmates with his athleticism and wild shenanigans, but he also had a penchant for pigheadedness and even then, refused to acknowledge his mistakes. He was known to ride his bike fast, shout loudly, and curse often.

This sounds like a classic ADD history to me. There does seem to be considerable evidence for this diagnosis. What I learned about these fellows at St Francis Academy in the USA is that many have coexisting conduct or oppositional-defiant disorders. What happens to them as they become adults is sometimes classic sociopathic behaviour especially if combined with narcissistic traits.

So what we can conclude from all this? Alexander was narcissistic but that’s where the labelling ends.  Adolf most likely had a borderline personality disorder with homicidal and suicidal proclivities and periodic paranoid psychotic breaks.

Donald sits comfortably in the Type B spectrum as a creative relatively functional ADD derived psychopath. With external controls, better advisors, and a bit of Ritalin he might make become a bit more presidential and be a little less obnoxious.

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One Response to “Trump: Alexander or Hitler?”

  1. kristina nadreau says:

    no amount of ritalin will give this man integrity.

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