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Part III. The Psychological Meltdown of Donald Trump: A Clinical Perspective

The continuous torrent of bigotry, rage, personal attacks, and delusional thinking spewed by DT over the last two years has provided far more clinical data than any possible battery of tests. Our proximity to around-the-clock news--in which DT dominates the headlines he craves--has given us a massive reservoir of exposure to the man's inner psychological workings.
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When the history books are written on the rise and fall of DT's 2016 Mad Max campaign of hate, the tipping point leading to his stunning meltdown will be identified as the moment he lashed out at the Gold Star Khan couple, parents of a true Muslim-American hero, just days after securing the republican nomination in a landslide.

As discussed in the first and second installment of this series, Hillary Clinton was both right and wrong in her understanding of DT's psychology; right in stating that he's not merely an entertainer, but actually believes and means the bulk of what he says and does; wrong in proclaiming that what you see is what you get--"This is DT." From a purely clinical perspective, based on DT's glaring personality make-up, it has been highly predictable that his actions would become much, much worse following his intoxicating success in winning the republican nomination. That has indeed come to pass in the last two weeks with blinding speed and intensity, each day's behavior more disturbed than the last.

Clinical psychologists in the mid-seventies were trained in the use of interpretive (as opposed to number scores) psychological test batteries aimed at synthesizing a sophisticated evaluation of personality make-up. I was trained to interpret a series of "projective" tests in which the subject was asked to describe what they saw in Rorschach inkblots, to make up stories to a series of pictures involving people, to draw a family with pencil and paper, and to complete a series of cognitive/intelligence tasks. I worked four years in an adolescent inpatient/outpatient hospital where testing was taken very seriously to provide answers to urgent questions: Is this person safe to be allowed out of the hospital without committing suicide? What is this person's capacity for violence against self or other? How vulnerable is this person to psychotic breakdown and under what circumstances? What is this person's level of paranoia, anxiety, and/or depression? What is this person's capacity for self-reflection and accountability vs. blaming and excuses? How capable is this person of intimacy vs. exploitation vs. withdrawal? Etc.

The continuous torrent of bigotry, rage, personal attacks, and delusional thinking spewed by DT over the last two years has provided far more clinical data than any possible battery of tests. Our proximity to around-the-clock news--in which DT dominates the headlines he craves--has given us a massive reservoir of exposure to the man's inner psychological workings. With ongoing, consistent and repetitive patterns, there is nothing subtle or mysterious about DT's personality organization: never apologizing, always blaming; shooting from the lip, often with shocking ignorance of basic facts, before reversing himself again and again; displaying a mind-boggling desire for vengeance against anyone who slights him or disagrees; a jaw-dropping sense of invincibility, never needing the advice of others because he always knows more; pathological lying and extreme dishonesty in his business dealings--the list never stops.

As appalling as his well-documented outrages were in the primaries, many believed his road rage juggernaut to Make America Hate Again would soften as he "pivoted" to the general election. Given his psychological make-up, such predictions were doomed to be dead wrong. Having been emboldened by landslide primary successes, his clinical profile dictated that his behavior would become far more poisonous, spurred on by victory and the rabid attention he craves.

Consider the events immediately following his RNC acceptance of the nomination:

--During the DNC speeches, he fumed that because he had been "hit and hit and hit," he thirsted for vengeance "to hit those people so hard, their heads would spin, and they'd never recover."

--He insulted and questioned the integrity of Mr. and Ms. Khan in a way that shocked all but the most hateful among us, and demonstrated his utter incapacity for empathy, in keeping with his extreme Anti-Social Personality Disorder. His truest colors were spilling out full force.

--He retaliated against numerous GOP leaders for rebuking him, threatening to fund their opponents in their next elections. Under great pressure from his family, he dutifully reversed himself while rolling his eyes and reading from notes in order not to go off the rails again.

--To our shock and alarm, we learned that he recently asked an international military adviser three times in a one-hour interview to explain why the US can't use nuclear weapons--"what is the point in having nuclear weapons if we don't use them," not only in the Middle-East but in Europe as well.

--He suggested in a nationally televised speech that the Russians might want to hack into Hillary Clinton's email accounts.

--He insisted that the Russians would never invade Ukraine if he were elected, before being told to his puzzlement that they had invaded two years ago with no intention of leaving.

--Last week, his family and inner circle vehemently "intervened" and insisted he stop improvising attacks in rally after rally, to stay on point, read from a teleprompter, and start being "presidential." DT reportedly appeared chastened and agreed that he must comply. Two hours later, he made his notorious "Second Amendment people" innuendo that rabid gun advocates might take matters into their own hands with Clinton and the Supreme Court justices she would appoint, drawing the immediate attention of the FBI.

--He made repeated references to the election being "rigged" against him, blaming the media for their unfair treatment, as his polls began to nosedive. He requested of his fervent loyalists that they not only vote in November, but that they then patrol voting sites to ensure he was being treated fairly, with the unsubtle encouragement of vigilante measures heavily implied.

--Stories began to surface surrounding his slick and shady campaign manager, Paul Manafort, for having received 12.5 million in off-the-books payments while advising the corrupt Ukrainian prime minister--a puppet of Russia--over several years, inflaming existing concerns about both Manafort and DT himself possibly having unexplained alliances and business deals--hidden in undisclosed tax returns--with Vladimir Putin, whom DT often refers to as a great leader, as he has with Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-un. "Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia!" Nice? Stranger than fiction.

--In a vehement declaration of his unwillingness to moderate his style and go back to his primaries approach, on Wednesday he hired Stephen Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News, an extremist media organization known for its bizarre conspiracy theories and vicious attacks on both the republican and democratic establishments; also known for its fervent support of DT.

The message couldn't be clearer. Not only is DT unwilling to change, he is clinically incapable of doing so, as the last two weeks have demonstrated beyond any doubt..

Fasten your seatbelts, America. The hate brigade is again fully unleashed, with vengeful intensity we've not yet imagined. As we shall see, the ugliness and terror now devolves to new levels, instigated by a clinically deranged leader.