Let’s step back for a moment and consider a word and its definition: megalomania. What does this consist of? What’s it all about? “Megalo” means “big” or “huge,” and “mania” is, well, mania.
It’s a “mania for great or grandiose performance,” according the Webster’s online collegiate dictionary. An earlier edition of Webster’s states it this way: “a form of mental alienation in which the patient has grandiose delusions concerning himself.”
I note that on the Webster’s site, there’s a question, “Why did you look up this word?” I looked at the ten answers on the initial screen, and every single one of them had the same motivation: Donald Trump. The readers felt this might be the word that best describes our current president, but they wanted to check the definition.
Yet I think that perhaps “megalomania” is too weak, too understated a term. I am drawn more toward the idea that it’s something deeper and more profound that is awry here, though I hasten to add that I am not a psychiatrist, and readers should reach their own conclusions on the matter.
What is Mr. Trump like in comparison with other people in charge of nations, for example, Adolf Hitler? In “Understanding Madmen: a DSM-IV Assessment of Adolf Hitler” (2007), the authors conclude that Hitler was indeed clinically insane—schizophrenic. Here is a key paragraph from their study (available online in Individual Differences Research):
Examination of the current DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia, paranoid type, also support this diagnosis. It lists symptoms such as preoccupation with one or more persecutory or grandiose delusions usually organized around a coherent theme. Associated features include anxiety, anger, aloofness, and argumentativeness. The DSM-IV also states that persecutory themes may predispose schizophrenic individuals to suicidal behavior, while a combination of persecutory themes, grandiose delusions, and anger may predispose such an individual to violence. The DSM further indicates that such individuals may have a superior or patronizing manner and stilted or intense interpersonal interactions. Further, the DSM states such an individual may display little or no cognitive impairment and have a good prognosis in the areas of occupational functioning and independent living. (Frederick L. Coolidge, Felicia L. Davis, & Daniel L. Segal)
While the DSM-IV has been superseded by more recent DSMs, it seems to me it still provides a good baseline. Let’s see. . .
“Persecutory or grandiose delusions organized around a coherent theme”: This weekend, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Obama of tapping the Trump mansion’s phones during the months prior to the election. Mr. Trump frequently harps on the size of the crowds at his inauguration. Mr. Trump declared himself as having won by a “landslide” despite the fact that the lost the popular vote by close to three million votes. This statistic he rejects, claiming that there was widespread voter fraud. (No voter fraud has been yet discovered.)
“Anxiety, anger, aloofness, and argumentativeness”: the image of Mr. Trump angrily tweeting at 6:30 a.m. comes to mind. I have never seen a picture of Mr. Trump smiling. He seems perpetually scowling. I did watch him carefully during his debates with Mrs. Clinton, and I have to say that these four nouns fit Mr. Trump to a T.
“Persecutory themes may predispose schizophrenic individuals to suicidal behavior, while a combination of persecutory themes, grandiose delusions, and anger may predispose such an individual to violence.” I believe that the second contingency—the “combination”—is what we have with Mr. Trump. (I note that a quick search of “Trump” and “suicide” reveals that his election has been directly linked to a large number of suicides and suicide attempts. But I can find no mention of Mr. Trump’s ever having attempted suicide himself.)
Is Mr.Trump “predisposed to violence”? Absolutely. What are his most famous words prior to the election campaign? It seems to me that they are “You’re fired!” an act doing violence to the personalities of people who had worked for him and whom he was now coolly and happily humiliating in front of a TV audience of millions.
In addition, he as much as confessed to being so predisposed when he talked about his relationships with women, whom he boasted that he assaulted at will after he became famous, grabbing them by their private parts. This is an act of violence, not a sexual act.
“Little or no cognitive impairment” and “a good prognosis in the areas of occupational functioning and independent living” seem to be good descriptors of Mr. Trump, though it seems to me likely his “cognitive impairment” would be of the “little” rather than the “no” variety.
Is Mr. Trump’s personality similar to Adolf Hitler’s? It seems to me that there are decided and frightening similarities in personality as well as in the way that the respective governments are run. These have been often highlighted by the media, but to review, we have. . .
1) Hatred of the media and an attempt to silence it.
2) A constant fanning of the flames of xenophopia. (With Hitler it was against Jews; with Trump it is against Muslims.)
3) A plan to vastly increase military might.
4) The construction of a staff/administration of unscrupulous, even vicious, men and women.
5) Hidden alliances with foreign governments.
6) Isolation from, and considerable conflict with, bordering nations.
7) A willingness to use torture against perceived enemies of the state.