Wednesday, November 11, 2020



Trump and followers in October 2020
(Image: Stratos Brilakis/Shutterstock)

Never enough

In the aftermath of the 2020 election for the US President and VP, Donald Trump is exhibiting behavior that some find incomprehensible and baffling. In fact, his conduct is very easy to understand. For that, we have to thank the President's niece, Mary L. Trump, whose book TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH is highly revealing. To quote the back cover of the book, "Today, Donald is much as he was at three years old." That may sound like a punchline, but it's meant in all seriousness. 

For those who haven't read Mary Trump's book, here is some background. Donald was one of the five children of Mary and Fred Trump: Maryanne, Elizabeth, Fred Jr. ("Freddy"), Donald, and Robert. Mary Jr., Freddy's daughter, earned a Ph.D in Psychology. Fred Trump (Mary's grandfather) was a real estate mogul whose business empire depended on political connections and government largess. Fred taught his children to revere dominance rather than effort. 

Mary Sr. became ill when Donald was only two and a half. In and out of hospital, she was both emotionally and physically absent during the years when a child normally needs a sense of security and learns how to process the feelings a parent mirrors back to the child. Neither of Donald's parents afforded this to him or his siblings. Mary Sr. was predatory in her neediness and Fred, whom Mary Jr. describes as a high-functioning sociopath, appears to have had a stone cold heart bereft of any emotion whatsoever. The features of sociopathy include lack of empathy, a facility for lying, an indifference to right and wrong, abusiveness, and a lack of interest in the rights or feelings of others. Fred fit this profile exactly. Because Donald and Robert were at a particularly vulnerable age at the time of their mother's illness, they were perhaps the greatest victims of their father's attributes. He rebuffed any show of neediness on his sons' part with anger or indifference. For Donald and Robert, "needing" became equated with humiliation and despair. They never had enough of their mother's love, but they had too much of their father's abuse--hence the title of the book.

Mary and Fred Trump at a gala 
(Image: Ron Galella/Getty Images)

Never be weak

Fred disapproved of his oldest son, Freddy, who by nature was laid back, adventurous, and fun loving. When Freddy asked for a pet, Fred replied, "That's stupid. What do you want to do that for?" Fred was afraid that Freddy was "weak" or "soft," instead of being a "killer," Fred's word to describe invulnerability and winning at all costs. Grossly dissatisfied with his oldest son, Fred devalued and degraded every aspect of Freddy's personality. Seven and a half years younger than Freddy, Donald was able to observe the consequences of his older brother's weakness (as their father perceived it): shame and humiliation. The lesson Donald learned was that it was hazardous to be like Freddy, and to avoid that ever occurring, Donald learned to imitate his father in never appearing weak. Instead, be cruel, because kindness is a failing, a terrible flaw. Fred believed that there can only be one winner in a situation, and that it's vital to be that winner. Everyone else is a loser. Sound familiar?

Donald came to regard Freddy with contempt, but one day at a family meal, as Donald constantly bullied and needled his younger brother Robert, Freddy became so irritated that he dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes over Donald's head. To Donald's great humiliation, the reaction from the rest of the family present was uproarious laughter. Donald was appalled that he had been shamed by someone he considered to be beneath him--his brother Freddy. From then on, Donald determined that he would always wield a weapon before anyone used it on him. Indeed, in later life, Donald was extremely cruel to Freddy, who died from alcoholic liver failure at the early age of forty-two.

The bully

As Fred humiliated Freddy, Donald ingratiated himself to his father, which facilitated Freddy bearing the brunt of Fred's cruelty. Donald emulated his father and carried that mode of behavior with him to school. He was a bully who taunted other students, teasing them, calling them names, and sometimes getting into physical altercations. On the suggestion of a school board member, Fred decided to send Donald to the New York Military Academy (NYMA), obviously a much stricter and more regimented life than Donald was accustomed to. But it also reinforced some of what Donald had learned from his father: the person with the power gets to decide what's right and wrong, and it doesn't matter how that power is achieved. 

New York Military Academy, Jones Barracks
(Image: Ulora/Shutterstock) 

The sociopath

Like his father, Donald is a sociopath. Don't take my word for it--read what his psychologist niece says. Apparently bereft of any empathy except for himself, Donald's father taught his son to short-circuit feelings for others under the guise of being tough. With abysmal parenting, Donald suffered deprivations that scarred him for life, resulting in displays of narcissism, bullying, and grandiosity. Mary Trump says, "deep-seated insecurities have created in him [Trump] a black hole of need that constantly requires the light of compliments that disappears as soon as he's soaked it in." Nevertheless, even if this explains Trump's appalling deportment, it certainly doesn't excuse it. People can make a choice to be better. To the contrary, Donald is becoming more erratic by the day.

Next in Part Two: Is Trumpism a cult?

1 comment:

  1. I think it is important, as you say, not to excuse Trump because of his upbringing. He made his choices, and the world has had to live with them.