August 16, 2022

Article about Trump's legal troubles

 In yesterday’s diary “Psychopathology: "It's almost as if Trump wanted this drama and showdown" says GOP Never-Trumper” I used the subtitle 

More about the psychopathology of Donald Trump


For the subtitle of this diary I am adding a crucial word:

More about the psychopathology of Donald Trump


In the Monday diary, like I have done in others, I tried to explain how Trump behavior is not always rational, how it is driven by his psychopathology. Focusing on the documents he took to Mar-a-Lago I suggested that the reasons might have had more to do with his psychopathology than his having a planned nefarious agenda.

This morning I came across the following:

According to Trump biographer Tim O'Brien, there are three likely reasons Trump wanted to keep the classified information to himself:

  1. The first reason, O'Brien said, could simply be due to Trump's immature need to hold on to the exclusivity and privileged nature of the presidency he now no longer holds.
  2. The "unfettered greed has motivated Trump his entire life,” ie “money, money, money.”
  3. “Trump could (have been) trying to salvage his reputation.’


Note that the first reason suggested is an aspect of Trump’s psychopathology.

Readers didn’t appear to agree with me in my poll from yesterday. A significant majority of the 1000 plus people who responded to the poll leaned towards believing Trump’s reasons were nefarious. I think Kossacks have a tendency to want to demonize Trump and some want to see him purely as evil or dismiss his psychopathology as not particular relevant; but I see now that my poll was poorly worded because the choices aren’t mutually exclusive and in fact are interrelated.


Enlarge image of poll above.

The illustration I made for today’s diary shows the elements of The Dark Triad. The following is from Wikipedia

The dark triad is a psychological theory of personality, first published by Delroy L. Paulhus and Kevin M. Williams in 2002,[1] that describes three notably offensive, but non-pathological personality types: Machiavellianism, sub-clinical narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism), and sub-clinical anti-social personality disorder (psychopathy).[2][3][4][5] Each of these personality types are called dark because each is considered to contain malevolent qualities.[2][6][7][8]

All three dark triad traits are conceptually distinct although empirical evidence shows them to be overlapping. They are associated with a callous–manipulative interpersonal style.[9]

High scores in these traits have been found to statistically increase a person's likelihood to commit crimes, cause social distress, and create severe problems for organizations, especially if they are in leadership positions.[14]They also tend to be less compassionate, agreeable, empathetic, satisfied with their lives, and less likely to believe they and others are good.[15]

factor analysis found that among the big five personality traits, low agreeableness is the strongest correlate of the dark triad, while neuroticism and a lack of conscientiousness were associated with some of the dark triad members.[11] Agreeableness and the dark triad show correlated change over development.[16]

Three years ago I wrote Therapists warning about Trump's dangerous personality should explain the Dark TriadIt now can be read as prescient but It shouldn’t have taken a weatherman (or experienced psychotherapist) to tell the way the Trump wind was blowing. The warnings were there as laid out in the best seller “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” edited by Bandy Lee, MD (review) and coming from Dr. John Gartner first in his Duty to Warn movement (see Twitter) and later in his documentary #UNFIT (review).

You can see that there is a strong similarity between malignant narcissism which many mental health professionals (myself included) says describes Trump’s psychopathology.  Malignant narcissism is “the psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissismantisocial behavioraggression, and sadism.[1] Grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate” Wikipedia entry and The Dark Triad.

Why is it important to understand the personality of Donald Trump at more than a cursory level?

 The answer is in the subtitle to this diary: because it will help to predict his behaviors. I doubt anyone reading this will be engaged in building a legal case against but it is vital they understand his psychopathology to predict the way he will try to extricate himself from the consequences of his law-breaking.

Those building a case against Trump that will prevail in actual court and the court of public opinion have to have a laser-like focus on proving how he broke the law. Determining what his motivations were seem to me as a non-lawyer to be of secondary importance having to do with the consciousness of wrongdoing or mens rea, the later a term you may have heard lawyers discussing on MSNBC.

It is said to be a universal rule that an injury can amount to acrime only when inflicted by intention - that conduct cannot be criminal unless it is shown that one charged with criminal conduct had an awareness or consciousness of some wrongdoing.

It is a fundamental principle of criminal law that ordinarily aperson cannot be convicted of a crime unless that person acts with acertain level of intent.2 This intent requirement is frequently referred to as mens rea. Reference

My point in this and previous diaries about Trump’s psychopathology is summed up in a reference I often post from Sun Tzu in his classic “The Art of War” where he notes that the best way to defeat an enemy is to know him as well as you know yourself:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. Here’s an explanation of what he meant.

Back to our current enemy. To defeat him of course prosecutors) must know themselves, i.e. the strengths and weakness of their cases, but they also must know him and be able to predict his maneuvers. His psychopathology informs them (and us) that he won’t always be rational and sometimes may employ tactics, even have an overall strategy what will  be self-defeating, that could lead to his downfall. One of the primary ones is his narcissism and the belief he is untouchable, something demonstrated in is remark about getting away with shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. I wrote about this a few days ago in Trump is both the scorpion and the frog: He is in a five front war and one is against himself:

Excerpt: You can see his psychopathology play out in his latest attempt to escape culpability for taking classified documents to Mar a Lago, that he could legally do this because he declassified them apparently in some exercise of presidential prestidigitation and megalomaniacal magic.

This is just another version of “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" 

Prosecutors should understand that Trump probably believes what Nixon expressed and that what with the third rate lawyers he’ll end up won’t try to convince him against using: he might very well try to use this as a defense not because it is a good defense but because of his psychopathology.


Nixon didn’t go to jail because President Ford pardoned him. Trump might not be so lucky.

Amazing! Trump just got some bigots pissed off. By Hal Brown, MSW

  I had to read the RawStory article shown above three times to figure out what happened. Trump was showing his supposed support for law enf...