10 Political and Psychological Observers Who Think Trump May Have Gone Off the Deep End
Donald Trump has triggered more than one anxiety attack in the American electorate, and new speculation about his mental stability is not likely to help. But at the risk of stoking more sleepless nights, an increasing number of politicians, psychologists and political observers are questioning not just the mental fitness of Republican presidential nominee, but his mental health.
Trump has grown even more erratic of late than usual. He has given several rambling, seemingly unhinged press conferences and interviews and keeps expressing paranoid views about how fire chiefs who attempt to keep his crowds safe are out to get him. In just two short weeks, he has called for the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign; attacked the family of a genuine war hero because they said something unflattering about him; and given an almost comically deranged press conference a day after securing the Republican nomination. When Trump rambled incoherently about Ted Cruz’s father's involvement with the Kennedy assassination, and then denied he had anything to do with floating the accusations he had just made, it was hard not to wonder why the men in white coats were taking so long.
But while it is sometimes tempting to laugh at Trump's over-the-top behavior and rhetoric, it’s also becoming more and more of a nervous titter. Maybe there is something deeply wrong with the egomaniac is inching nearer the presidency—something beyond his bigotry, ignorance and extreme self-regard. But don't take it from us. Observers from all over the political spectrum are speculating on the soundness of Trump's psyche.
1. Mike Bloomberg: New York’s former Republican billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg landed a number of blows in his DNC speech about Trump's business acumen and honesty ("I'm a New Yorker and I know a con when I see it"). He also raised the specter of Trump's madness when he endorsed Hillary Clinton and said, “Let’s elect a sane, competent person.”
2. Mark Cuban: Hillary got another billionaire's endorsement on Saturday, when Mark Cuban admitted that he too is a bit frightened about what the Republican nominee might do. "Trump scares me," Cuban said after speaking on behalf of Clinton and her vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine. "Donald, initially, I really hoped he would be something different, that as a businessperson, I thought there was an opportunity there. But then he went off the reservation and went batsh*t crazy."
Cuban also spoke of how he urged Trump to quickly learn something about policy; advice the former real estate mogul ignored.
3. Stephen Hayes: In the Weekly Standard shortly after the GOP convention, conservative Stephen Hayes wrote, “Donald Trump is not of sound mind.” What occasioned his declaration was Trump's behavior right after the convention, when during a press conference he answered a question about Ted Cruz thusly:
"I don't know his father. I met him once. I think he's a lovely guy. I think he's a lovely guy. All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead, he said Donald Trump—I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that, frankly, in many respects should be very respected."
Hayes wrote: "The Republican nominee for president made comments Friday that one might expect from a patient in a mental institution, the kind of stuff you might read on a blog with really small print and pictures of UFOs."
Other conspiracies Trump has embraced include speculation that Antonin Scalia's death was suspicious and that Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster. What conspiracy theories might he embrace and act on in the Oval Office, Hayes wonders.
4. David Brooks: Trump “appears haunted by multiple personality disorders,” David Brooks wrote in his column following the Democratic Convention. While Brooks seemed a bit frantic about the downfall of his mythical Republicans who are supposedly filled with some genuine Christian spirit, he almost seemed to feel sorry for Trump.
"He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders," Brooks wrote. "It is the 'sane' and 'reasonable' Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance."
Poor Brooks. The agony of it all.
5. Stuart Stevens: On Twitter last week, Stuart Stevens, chief strategist of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, wrote, “We can gloss over it, laugh about it, analyze it, but Donald Trump is not a well man.”
Stevens readily admits he is not a psychologist, but adds, “There is something definitely off about him. At best, this is a very damaged person. And there’s probably something more serious going on.”
6. Tony Schwartz: Also not a psychologist, but arguably a man who knows Trump very well, Schwartz ghost-wrote Trump's The Art of the Deal and recently went public with his grave concerns about the man. He talked about Trump’s pathologically short attention span, impulsiveness, extreme narcissism, and strange inability to reflect meaningfully about himself, his childhood or his life. He also described Trump as a sociopath.
7. Ezra Klein: “Have we stopped to appreciate how crazy Donald Trump has gotten recently?” Ezra Klein wrote last week in Vox. He too was writing in the wake of the GOP convention and Trump's bizarre behavior the day after Trump was nominated and victorious.
"The very next day, Trump walked out and gave one of the craziest, most self-destructive press conferences in political history," Klein wrote. "He was off script. He was unhinged. He was settling scores." All true.
8. Dan McAdams: McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, has never treated Donald Trump, but he wrote a lengthy and detailed personality assessment of Trump for the Atlantic, in which he concluded that Trump is off the charts when it comes to narcissism.
“Putting his name on everything, talking about himself all the time: this is beyond the pale,” McAdams recently told the Toronto Star.
He also said, “I don’t want to argue that it’s a clinical condition, but if there’s a continuum, in terms of narcissistic personality characteristics within a relatively normal population, he’s really way off on the extreme end.”
9. Howard Gardner: The esteemed Harvard professor has described Trump's narcissism as “textbook” and extremely dangerous.
10. Scott Lilienfeld: Lilienfield studies presidential narcissism at Emory University, and had this to say about Trump: “I don’t think he’s out of touch with reality, I think he knows what he’s doing, he probably doesn’t hear voices or have delusional thinking.”
Not exactly reassuring.