Is Donald Trump a Psychopath?
|KGB "Black Raven"|
The Bear does not write on politics much, but when he does, he assumes readers have a basic familiarity with candidates' positions. It is simply beyond dispute that Trump has on more than one occasion, publicly advocated targeting terrorists' families for retaliatory killings. It is sheer drudgery to force the Bear's research staff of squirrels to tediously document candidates' most outrageous and well-known statements. If anyone is really curious, just Google "Trump killing terrorists' families."
QUICK TAKE. It is good that Trump can abandon stupid positions. Perhaps someone finally has him in hand and we may see him grow. On the other hand, the guy did maintain for some time the position that he would order terrorists' families killed because while terrorists' don't care about their own lives, they do care about their families' lives.
The Bear has a hard time working out how the points come out on the tough guy - evil - psychopath triad. Which doesn't mean he is vowing not to vote for him.
END OF UPDATE.
In last night's debate, unless people are making up stuff (Bear didn't watch) Donald Trump once again said he would order retaliatory killings of terrorists' families. That presumably means men, women and children. The Bear credits it because he did watch a previous debate in which Trump said the same thing. As the Bear recalls, he was challenged on it by another candidate. The Bear thought, "That's crazy. Trump is going to make this guy look like an idiot."
Unfortunately, given the opportunity to deny or clarify, he confirmed it then with the certainty that accompanies his every pronouncement.
First of all, how does he imagine he is going to have the power to do this? Executive order? There are constitutional protections that run in this country that protect residents from murder by federal authorities. You see, in the Bear's America, all lives matter.
Second of all, is that really Trump's understanding of America? A police state like the Soviet Union where innocent people are taken away at night by the feared KGB "Black Ravens" and never seen again?
Even if the rule is confined to overseas combat zones, it would be counterproductive and morale corroding, not to mention monstrous, to order American soldiers to conduct retaliatory murder. The Bear's son was a kid in Afghanistan. How do you process an order like that after you've watched your buddies killed by treachery? The Bear is certain his son would never carry out such an order, but how could it ever be given in the first place? The old cliche that "the terrorists would have already won," has a real sting to it with Trump's policy.
But there is something even more disturbing, if possible.
Dr. Robert Hare is the godfather of the study of psychopaths. In Without Conscience, the Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, he says, "Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate and plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and feeling for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please."
Hare co-authored with Dr. Robert Babiak the later Snakes in Suits, When Psychopaths Go to Work, which documents the ease with which psychopaths can fool employers, and even rise to success. Not being hampered by empathy or conscience may be highly adaptive.
The simplest definition of a psychopath is "an intraspecies predator." They can be charming, are manipulative, and utterly persuasive. They are commonly described as "glib." In other words, they lie convincingly and without effort. A common way of describing psychopathy is "they know the words, but they don't know the music." They are literally incapable of feeling empathy. They know good from evil, but just don't -- some would argue can't -- care.
"Psychopath" and "sociopath" are essentially synonyms. They are not insane, in a legal sense, and there remains controversy whether they are covered by the diagnosis "Antisocial Personality Disorder," or, indeed, any mental illness. As mentioned, they can be quite successful, although usually their lack of long-term planning is a hindrance.
Some researchers, such as Dr. Kent Kiehl (with whom the Bear has collaborated professionally) use advanced equipment that, in simplified terms, allows them to see which areas in a subject's brain "light up" in response to various visual stimuli. Kiehl claims that psychopaths' brains are "wired wrong." This supposedly accounts for their lack of empathy and conscience, and, in some cases, their danger. The Bear does not buy it at this stage of research, and it has proven a disaster in the few trials in which it has been used. It seems sentencing juries are not moved to spare remorseless, conscienceless, utterly self-centered, and dangerous murderers who can never be cured. Go figure.
Is Donald Trump a psychopath? Is he successful despite his psychopathy, or, perhaps, because of his psychopathy? Who knows? The Bear has the wrong graduate degree for such answers, but must ask the question.
The Bear finds something strange and disquieting about this idea that the President of the United States can order out the Black Ravens at night to sweep up innocent people who will never be seen again, or command American soldiers to execute noncombatants. These are not the positions of a man who doesn't get something; these are the positions of a man who doesn't get anything.