Dr. Tim Irwin




What about Donald Trump?

Cara Gaskins - Friday, October 02, 2015

After my recent blog post when I asked your thoughts on whether Hillary Clinton is derailing, many of you suggested we should ask the same question about Donald Trump, Republican candidate for U.S. President. Here are my thoughts.

Trump amassed a personal fortune through being smart, tough-minded and resilient in his business dealings. He demands high performance and loyalty from all who work for him.

His stance on illegal immigration and many other issues have resonated with a lot of unhappy voters, thus his very high poll numbers. But it’s more than that. People like his uninhibited, direct, non PC communication style. I think many like Trump for the same reason we liked the Mel Gibson character in the Lethal Weapon movies. He throws caution to the wind, and he’s dangerous. He scares us a bit, and we like the fact that he scares the establishment crowd—the holders of the very safe, existing political paradigm.

Two words are also frequently assigned to him—arrogance and narcissism. As I mentioned in the last blog, arrogance is the “mother of all derailers.” Does this mean he is at risk for derailment? In short, absolutely, but to really understand Trump, I think we must go Freudian.

Remember from Psychology 101:

ID — our primitive drives—the free, uninhibited child in us.

Ego — the rational side of us that tries to be more realistic and adult like.

Superego — the side of us which wants us to conform to societal values and expectations—our “parent.”

Trump’s freely expressed id entertains us, and like Mel Gibson, we wonder what he will say or do next. Our uneasiness rests in our uncertainty whether his ego and superego can rein in his huge id. He shows some signs that he can, but then the raw, adolescent name caller shows up again.

The three Lethal Weapon movies lost our interest about halfway through number two. Do you think American voter will grow tired of Trump in a similar way? What are your thoughts?

© Copyright 2015. Dr. Tim Irwin and Irwin Inc, LLC. All rights reserved.

Professor Keel commented on 02-Oct-2015 07:56 PM
I thought that during Obama's first term his arrogance and narcissism would bring him down.
Of course, Obama has the media covering and defending him.
Frank Jones commented on 02-Oct-2015 09:02 PM
It's pretty cool how through simple Transactional Analysis we can notice not just our own behavior, but those of public figures. I use it regularly in evaluating my own behavior and how I'm relating to my own world. I am losing interest in Trump and so you are probably right about his behavior. Thanks for providing insight and helping my decision on who's the best capable to lead my country for the next 4 years. It's not the only basis for my decision but it does reveal what's really going on. Thank you.
Anonymous commented on 03-Oct-2015 05:34 AM
I certainly hope the American voters lose interest in Trump. I have no doubt he is business smart, but I can't imagine his leadership style would be effective in running our country.
Elton Nelson commented on 03-Oct-2015 03:27 PM
There is validity in the classic saying, "politics is the art of compromise." A politician has to be able and willing to work with other politicians that he disagrees with. From this perspective I do not see where Donald Trump is communicating that he is qualified to hold public office.
Dick Boger commented on 04-Oct-2015 12:06 PM
What scares the Beltway so much about Trump is that he can self-finance his campaign -- money being the mother's milk of politics. The politicos cannot directly influence him or orchestrate the primary campaigns. That said, Trump reminds me of H. Ross Perot when he took on Bush 41 in 1992 and siphoned off enough Republican voters with the same theme (dissatisfaction with the status quo in Washington) to assure the election of a Democrat (Bill Clinton). Another Clinton could be the beneficiary of a sustained Trump campaign --- either as a Republican or Independent 3rd Party -- to assure another 8 years of a Democrat sitting the White House.
Richard Levick commented on 05-Oct-2015 05:56 AM
Dear Tim,

As always, great insight from you.

When it comes to Donald Trump, you are spot on. Narcissism is not only toxic to the person engaged in the behavior, but to their wider audiences. We all dream of acting like John Wayne at times, throwing punches without consequence (other than getting our way instantly), but this is not the social contract. Democracy is by definition messy, where parties compromise. Narcissists, however, are incapable of compromise, and that is what makes them so incredibly dangerous.

I thought you might enjoy our take on the last GOP debate, which we cover regularly for Forbes. There are a few comments on Mr. Trump.


Warm regards,


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