‘Art Of The Deal’ Ghostwriter: President Trump Is ‘The Psychopath In Chief’
President Donald Trump wholly lacks “an inner sense of obligation to behave with honesty, fairness, and care for others,” his ghostwriter for Art of the Deal wrote in a recent piece on Medium.
This lack of a conscience is the most notable trait of psychopaths, Tony Schwartz said, in making the case that Trump is the ‘Psychopath in Chief.’
Schwartz noted that he spent 18 months with Trump as he wrote Art of the Deal, which translates to hundreds of hours with the then-real estate mogul.
He said initially, he believed that Trump “was driven by an insatiable narcissistic hunger to be loved, accepted, admired, and praised.”
While this remains true of the president, Schwartz said a more nefarious motivation is at Trump’s core: the need to dominate.
His primary goal is to win at any cost and the end always justifies the means. Ultimately, he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks or feels. For Trump, the choice between dominating and being loved — saving himself or saving others — is no contest.
Schwartz wrote: “The trait that most distinguishes psychopaths is the utter absence of conscience — the capacity to lie, cheat, steal, and inflict pain to achieve their ends without a scintilla of guilt or shame, as Trump so demonstrably does.”
Trump makes clear in both word and deed “that he feels no more guilt about hurting others than a lion does about killing a giraffe,” Schwartz observed.
As president, Trump “has told more than 18,000 lies without acknowledging or apologizing for any of them,” and the frequency with which he lies has only increased with time.
And he has no capacity for empathy:
In the face of a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect leaders to feel our pain, and to respond with expressions of compassion and comfort. Not Trump. In 13 hours of comments he made over a recent three-week period, The Washington Post reported that he spent a total of two hours attacking others, including the media, 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, and a total of just 4.5 minutes expressing rote condolences for Covid-19 victims and front line workers.
Schwartz wrote that this lack of empathy and inability to “make heartfelt connections” pervades Trump’s personal relationships as well, including his own family.
Consider the way he describes his relationship with his father, arguably the most important influence in his life. “I was never intimidated by my father, the way other people were,” he explained to me for The Art of the Deal. “I stood up to him and he respected that. We had a relationship that was almost businesslike. I sometimes wonder if we’d have gotten along so well if I hadn’t been as business oriented as I am.”
The president’s immediate family is affected too:
Trump rarely speaks with affection about Melania, his third wife, or any of his children — with the exception of Ivanka — or his grandchildren. “I know friends who leave their businesses so they can spend more time with their children, and I say “Gimme a break,” Trump once explained. “My children couldn’t love me more if I spent 15 times more time with them.”
In fact, Trump has spoken most affectionately about the world’s dictators, Schwartz noted, including “Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, and Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro.”
The president has said he “fell in love” with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
“I was being really tough and so was he,” Trump said in 2018. “And we would go back and forth and then we fell in love. He wrote me beautiful letters. They were great letters, and then we fell in love.”
Schwartz concludes by writing that Americans can expect Trump’s behavior to worsen through the end of his presidency, “because he is who he is, immutably.”
The research now strongly suggests that the absence of conscience has a strong hereditary basis, even as it may also be activated by adverse childhood experiences. The genetic abnormality itself manifests in the limbic system, the set of brain structures involved in the processing of emotions. People without a conscience, it turns out, often have an undersized or under-active amygdala and less gray matter in the limbic area of the brain.
Trump is “incapable of shame or empathy and cares only about his self-interest” and does not believe there is anything wrong with him, therefore there is no incentive to change.
To protect America’s democracy, Schwartz wrote, it is “critical to push back, calmly and persistently, against every single lie Trump tells, and every legal and moral boundary he violates.”
We must resist what Hanna Arendt has called “the banality of evil” — the numbness and normalizing that so easily sets in when unconscionable acts become commonplace. “Under conditions of terror, most people will comply,” Arendt has written, “but some people will not.”