By Dr David Laing Dawson
I wrote the blog, re-posted below these comments, almost 7 years ago. It ends with my naive assessment that Donald Trump’s attitude and behaviour toward women is diminishing his chance of being elected President.
I should have remembered Barnum (of Barnum and Bailey) and H.L. Mencken saying something about never losing money by underestimating the intelligence of people, or Carl Sagan’s updated version, changing the word “intelligence” to “critical thinking”.
But now, having watched the disheartening spectacle of CNN’s town hall with poor Kaitlan Collins going up against Trump with fair, quiet, soft, reasoned argument, fact checking and moderation, I think our problem is not critical thinking or intelligence, it is rather our susceptibility to performance art and the self-righteous, angry, pouting, vengeful teenager lying dormant in each of us. Trump taps into this naturally and instinctively, and dangerously. How else to explain the laughter from the audience when he makes fun of a woman accusing him of rape?
And perhaps, more than ever before, in our minds, the boundary between exciting theater and reality has blurred. Trump may have been right when he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
So it’s deja vu all over again, with all of Trump’s new legal problems only providing more fuel to the paranoia of his base. “Witch hunt!”
October of 2016:
The recent revelations about Donald Trump, especially his barging into the dressing room of pageant contestants, left me wondering about emotional and mental age; specifically, at what age in a boy’s development would we find some of Trump’s behaviour, if still not laudable, at least common?
1. Peeking in the dressing room to get a glimpse of girls in partial dress: age 13 to 15
2. Complaining that the moderators are unfair and gave Hillary more time: 6 to 12 (preteen sibling rivalry)
3. Name calling repeatedly: age 6 to 12 (the school yard taunt)
4. Use of single word hyperbole to describe something: Age 14 to 16 (“It was like horrible, horrible.”)
5. Lying even when it is not necessary: 14 to 17 (Some teens get so used to shading their responses to questioning by parents that they lie even when the truth would get them kudos). Donald could have said, truthfully, that he decided, within a year or so of its onset, that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and he would have sounded thoughtful and mature.
6. Never taking responsibility; it is always the fault of someone else: age 10 to 15. (“The teacher hates me, I wasn’t doing nothing when…”.)
7. Boasting about sexual prowess: 16-18 (Actually at that age males usually boast about sexual prowess to an audience of peers who know the story is fiction. It’s more of an in-joke than a real boast. We all understand the deep level of insecurity that lies behind a real boast.)
8. Groping or kissing women without consent. Perhaps 15 to 25 but only if the young man is brain damaged, severely inebriated, or mentally handicapped.
9. Denying the obvious truth. Perhaps 13 to 16. (“The marijuana you found in my sock drawer – it’s not mine. I have no idea how it got there.”)
10. Broadly lashing out at unfairness when challenged. Perhaps age 3 to 10, and beyond that into teens when the boy has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
11. Just a few days ago, Mr. Trump said something I haven’t heard since I was privy to post football game teenage drunken banter: “Look at her.” he said, implying clearly that he would only consider assaulting a more attractive woman.
12. And he keeps giving us fodder to think about. The latest: “I think she’s actually getting pumped up, you want to know the truth.” Now beside the bizarre accusation (he’s referring to Hillary) he uses one of his favourite phrases, “you want to know the truth.” There are many variants to this: “To tell the truth.” “I have to be honest.” “If you want to know the truth.” “Gotta be honest with you folks.” Now these kinds of qualifiers are not limited to adolescents, but they are precisely the phrases boys between the age of 14 and 19 use just before they lie. And addicts of all ages.
Fortunately Donald Trump’s candidacy is floundering on his behaviour and attitude toward women. The threat of having him in the White House is diminishing. But really, by my calculations, if Donald Trump were to be elected, we would be giving an immense amount of power to someone with the judgment and emotional age of a 7 to 15 year old boy, and not a sober, stable, empathic, conscientious 7 to 15 year old at that.
For more about Trump, Two Years of Trump on the Psychiatrist’s Couch is available in print and e-book formats.