Donald Trump's desperation is pathological — and deeply dangerous for the nation

As a clinical psychologist, I see these final weeks before the election as perilous for Trump — and all of us

Published August 21, 2020 7:00AM (EDT)

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House August 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House August 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump knows his re-election fortunes are fading. He knows his time is about up. He thinks he is entitled to eight more years "because they spied on his campaign." He thinks he is "the greatest of all presidents." He thinks he has "done more for women than just about any president in history." These grandiose and false statements belie a man who is scrambling, flailing, agitated and plainly desperate.

The truth is that Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist who is also antisocial and sadistic. He is tied up in knots because he knows he may be facing criminal charges once he leaves office; he has already been named as an unindicted co-conspirator. He is desperate to hang onto his power and control and constant feeding of adoration by his supporters. He has thrived on his greed and corruption as president.

Trump floated the proposition of postponing the November election because of the pandemic. That idea did not fly even with Republicans. His nefarious motivation was transparent to all.

Trump is now trying to steal the election by crippling the Postal Service. He is fueling a campaign of voter suppression. He knows it is his only chance to win. He is adamantly opposed to national mail-in voting. Such voting would defeat him for certain. No matter what happens with mail-in voting, Trump is already setting the stage for claims that he is the victim of voter fraud. This could conceivably allow him to confound and even paralyze the whole election process. 

As Trump's desperation grows, we will see typical Trump pathology: hostile tweets, wild accusations, lies, blaming, fear-mongering, conspiracy theories, vindictiveness and gaslighting. His psyche will continue to unravel before our eyes. Everything he says will be either projection or confession. He will have no self-control, no shame and no empathy. He cannot under any circumstance accept responsibility for his feelings, thoughts or actions.

Malignant narcissists develop a scorched-earth mentality when they are cornered or exposed or rebuffed. Trump will deliberately and purposefully try to hurt people and institutions if he goes down. He will strike out in narcissistic rage. He will not go down alone.

Upon losing the election, Trump will file motions and lawsuits in order to turn the election results upside down. He will not concede. He will not assist in the orderly transition of power to Joe Biden. He will not leave the Oval Office. He will scream from the mountaintops that he is the victim of a "rigged election." And he will point fingers at his usual foils, including Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and virtually all non-white Americans. 

Sadly, Trump is capable of inciting and promoting violence by his supporters. There could be riots in the streets. He will describe it as the "silent majority" rising up in his behalf. He will clamor for a new election. He will get a sadistic rush from witnessing the turmoil and chaos that he alone creates.

Trump's desperate maneuvers reflect his severe and malignant psychopathology. He cares about no one but himself. Even then, he is so self-sabotaging and self-destructive that he seems to tarnish and destroy everyone and everything in his path, including himself.

The next 11 weeks will be unsettling and scary for all of us. That is not presidential leadership; that is psychiatric disturbance breathing unrest and disarray into our daily lives.

Let us not forget about the thousands of Americans who are losing their lives every week because of Trump's incompetent and corrupt handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, millions of jobs have been lost as a result of the resulting economic collapse. So what does Trump keep providing us? Denials, lies, inaction, conspiracy theories, magical thinking and reckless medical cure-alls. That is not presidential leadership; that is being an accessory to mass murder, if not worse.

Donald Trump's desperation is mounting by the day. America is suffering mightily as he falls from grace.

He does not give a damn.

By Alan D. Blotcky

Alan D. Blotcky, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama, and a clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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