The 2016 presidential campaign of Republican party front-runner Donald Trump has been publicized by the media and absorbed by the public in almost irrational doses.
The billionaire has been praised by the public and berated by the critics for his racist comments, overbearing self-confidence, and his apparent promotion of violence. But none of the negative critiques seem to have any lasting effect on his campaign, let alone his own view of self…he still manages to believe the country is in desperate need of his leadership. And it’s scary as hell.
Watching this bleach-blonde spray tanned presidential hopeful speak is almost sickly mesmerizing…he seems to be in a universe of his own, impervious to beliefs that counter his own, like he’s orbiting somewhere in the stratosphere of lunacy, but convinced it’s a form of enlightenment. It’s weird. But also fun to watch, in a horrifying way. Watching the Donald call his fellow candidates lesser men in debates or justify his ludicrous positions on immigration or the Middle East in interviews, one can begin to think something along the lines of: “this man cannot be real.” While there is no denying the fact that this man is indeed human, the degree to which his psychological state matches that of a stable human being is worth consideration.
The psychologist Robert Hare has been studying the trend of psychopathy and criminal psychology since the early 1970s. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the world of psychology and the study of psychopathy is his “Psychopath Test,” the PCL-R, a set of 20 criteria that, if found to apply to an individual, can classify them as a bona-fide psychopath.
The checklist includes measures such as superficial charm, grandiose self-worth, lack of remorse and empathy, pathological lying, promiscuous sexual behavior, lack of long-term goals, impulsivity, and irresponsibility.
Pretty clear to see where I’m going with this. Traditionally, each candidate is rated on a scale from one to three in each of the 20 categories…a score greater than 30 classifies them as a psychopath, and rewards them a one-way ticket to a mental institution.
Now, it is true that a number of the criteria do not apply to Mr. Trump (i.e. a parasitic lifestyle…he has million dollar lofts and mansions, or criminal versatility…he has, of course, never been convicted of any serious crime). But the test doesn’t lie. The PCL-R has been trusted and exercized for decades and its results have supported its creation; the overwhelming majority of instituted serial killers (including Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy) have been found to fulfill the criteria of the test.
Perhaps the most important defining characteristic of a psychopath, according to the research into the subject conducted by journalist Jon Ronson, is the ability to trick those around them into trusting the psychopath, and manipulating those trusting disciples any way they see fit.
Donald Trump: successfully amassing a weird cult of followers bent on his words of intolerance and hate…by that measure he seems to be the most accomplished psychopath, managing to get a horrifying majority of the country to support him.
But then again, why should we expect anything else? The man is, as he won’t let us forget, “a winner.”