Donald J. Trump was born in Queens, New York in 1946, to real estate developer Frederick Trump and Mary Anne MacLeod. He is the 45th and current President of the United States of America since January 2017. Trump is also a successful and well-known business man, real estate mogul, and reality TV personality.
Trump attended New York Military Academy from 1959 to 1964 and went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in economics. In 1968, Trump got a medical exemption from the military draft and began working full – time for his father’s company. When he became president of this company in 1974 he renamed it ‘The Trump Organisation’. Trump expanded this company to Manhattan, Atlantic City and New Jersey, and invested in large projects such as luxury hotels, skyscrapers, casinos, and residential properties (Duignan, 2018). Trump developed his brand by licencing the Trump name for building projects along with various products and services. Buildings named after the Trump Organisation include the skyscraper Trump Tower, Trump Plaza, Trump Palace, and the then largest casino in the world – Trump Taj Mahal.
In the 1980’s Trump invested in casinos in Atlantic City, purchased a U.S Football League team, a 118 room mansion in Florida, a 282 foot yacht called ‘Trump Princess’, and an air shuttle service called ‘Trump Shuttle’. His net worth was estimated at $1.7 billion (Duignan, 2018). However, when the recession hit the US economy in 1990, Trump’s businesses suffered and he was soon in debt. Trump’s Taj Mahal declared bankruptcy in 1991, while the Plaza Hotel and two other casinos went bankrupt in 1992. Also, his airline was surrendered and taken over by US Airways, he had to sell his yacht, and he was forced to take out second mortgages. To save the company from collapse, Trump had to take out colossal loans. Trump received loans from more than seventy banks estimated at €4 billion, however most banks would not lend to him after his businesses went bankrupt (Encyclopaedia of world biography, no date). He managed to overcome his financial woes with the help of Deutsche Bank. In 1996 Trump, along with NBC television network, purchased the Miss Universe Organisation to produce beauty pageants which he reported to earn $3.4 million from (Murse, 2018). Other sources of income came from operating golf courses and resorts, restaurants, an ice rink, speaking engagements, TV appearances, and books he has written. Trump has written fifteen books about his success, business, and golf, with his most successful book being “The Art of the Deal” in 1987. As well as this, he produced and starred in reality TV shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice”.
In 2015 Trump announced he would be running for the Presidential campaign in the 2016 elections as a Republican candidate. In November 2016 Trump defeated Hilary Clinton and was elected President of the United States (The biography, 2018). During his presidential campaign, which he mostly funded himself, Trump received huge media coverage as many of his statements were controversial and false. In one of his first speeches he commented on illegal immigration, American companies offshoring jobs, and Islamic terrorism, in which he was extremely racist and discriminatory. These type of statements were frequent during his campaign and still continue today. Trump lost many supporters, business relationships and sponsorships when he announced that he would construct a wall at the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration from Latin America coming to the U.S. In his speech he stated that the Mexican people were “bringing crime”, “bringing drugs” and “they’re rapists” (Murse, 2018). These offensive remarks caused a huge public backlash. Trump regularly uses social media such as Twitter, making contentious and prejudiced public statements. In 2015 he called for a temporary ban on any Muslim people to enter the United States and supported a database to track Muslims in the U.S. He has a large following of supporters from people who endorse the Ku Klux Klan and neo – Nazis (Duignan, 2018). Trump is also infamous for criticising his opponents with defamatory insults that are aggressive, domineering and irrational. He is very scattered in his thinking and is paranoid and suspicions of any critics. Because of his erratic and unreasonable behaviour, he has benefited hugely from free media coverage. Trump has become a source of entertainment in his absurdities and ludicrous statements.
After extensive research on Donald Trump’s public behaviour, professional achievements, and his personality I will analyse his character using three theoretical perspectives – psychoanalytical, trait, and social – cognitive.
In the psychoanalytical perspective, Sigmund Freud emphasises the unconscious drive that motivates people’s actions and behaviours. He believed that adult personality is developed from early childhood experiences and how these experiences are processed in the mind. According to Freud, the makeup of a person’s personality includes three aspects – the Id, Ego, and Super ego. The early experiences and conflicts that arise in the mind will develop these aspects of personality, and will determine the future coping skills of the adult (McLeod, 2018). Trump shows signs that he is controlled by the id, as he acts in ways that is not line with the ego or superego. He is unpredictable, hostile and emphatic, seemingly not knowing right from wrong. He acts on impulse, needing immediate satisfaction and does not consider the consequences, which indicates an underdeveloped ego. The ego develops during infancy and its purpose is to satisfy the urges of the id in a socially acceptable way. The ego is both conscious and unconscious, and considers society’s norms and realities when deciding how to satisfy the id’s demands. As Trump is controlled by the id, his behaviour is very immature and childish. Trump is aggressive and insulting, regularly mocking his opponents in a very childlike manner. An example of his infantile nature is his remark on Hillary Clinton going to the bathroom during a Democratic debate: “Where did she go? …I know where she went; it’s disgusting….Don’t say it, it’s disgusting”. The superego motivates people to behave in moral and socially responsible ways by feelings of shame, anxiety and fear of punishment. Trump has a weak superego and inner conflict is evident by his behaviour and the resulting defence mechanisms he displays. Much of Trump’s behaviour indicates that he uses several defence mechanisms including regression, reaction formation, rationalisation, projection and denial. Denial is seen in Trump’s behaviour regularly where he disregards reality and refuses to accept facts such as him claiming that climate change and global warming is fake news and does not exist. Trump also uses rationalisation by distorting the facts and believing his own lies.
Psychoanalyst Karen Horney emphasised the importance of interpersonal relationships and its impact on personality. She saw ambition for power as a healthy trait in individuals when that power is used for the improvement of family, communities, and professional organisations. However, in neurotic individuals, she stated that this power stemmed from these individuals need to protect themselves from feelings of inadequacy. Neurotic people do not want to appear weak, so they believe they should always be in control, they’re manipulative, and they have to be right in every situation (Maltby, Day and Macaskill, 2010). The neurotic individual is distrustful and believes when things go wrong others are to blame. This can be seen with Trump in that he is highly suspicious and paranoid of others. He treats his opponents with hostility, aggression and threats of violence. Other neurotic characteristics identified in Trumps personality include the need for social recognition and status, he is highly ambitious and boasts about his achievements, he is sensitive to criticism and highly defensive. Trump is very rigid in his beliefs and has a loose grip on reality.
Trait theory refers to differences among people in the way they are inclined to behave, think, and feel across similar situations over a long period of time (Ashton, 2018). Ashton and Lee (2012) developed the HEXACO model which contains six dimensions of personality, including Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience.
Trump scores very low on conscientiousness and emotionality, refusing to abide by rules and laws already in place, but instead changing them for his own gain. This can be seen but is not limited to when he ended a rule that banned dumping waste from mining into streams; reversed a rule banning hunting bears and wolves; reversed the Civil Rights Act that protected transgender workers; and rejected a proposed ban on a pesticide which is highly toxic to humans (Bump, 2017). These ruthless actions will have far reaching consequences for many people in society, along with animals and the environment. He is emotionally unattached and lacks empathy, resulting in a belligerent and callous President.
Trump is extremely low on agreeableness, demonstrating lack of compassion, modesty, and altruism. He does not appear to be caring, affectionate, or loving towards the public or in his personal life. He is an exceptionally disagreeable person, coming across as arrogant, rude and manipulating. At campaign rallies, Trump has encouraged violence towards protestors shouting “Get ’em out of here … I’d like to punch him in the face”. He has very antisocial traits exhibiting all signs of the dark triad personality – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism (Whitbourne, 2013).
Trump exhibits immensely high extraversion characteristics such as relentless reward-seeking, for instance social approval, fame, and wealth, along with gregariousness, social dominance and persistent showmanship. He is exuberant and outgoing, with underlying anger fuelling his extreme extraversion. Ashton (2018) describes Trumps personality when referring to authoritarian aggression. He states that a tendency in authoritarian aggression is hostility towards certain people or groups and believing that these certain groups deserve to be punished. This personality characteristic tend to support racism and discrimination. Trump also demonstrates ethnocentrism in which he favours his own ethnic group over others and shows repulsion towards homosexuality.
He is low on honesty – humility in which he regularly incites violence and threats towards anyone he dislikes. He is verbally aggressive, boasts about sexual assaults, has rage reactions and is reckless. A person that has low honesty – humility is deemed untrustworthy. PolitiFact assessed how truthful Trump’s claims were during his presidential campaign and found that 75% of his claims were either mostly false or entirely false. Only 2% were entirely true (McAdams, 2016). Trump is also low on openness to experience as he is not receptive to new ideas. All of these traits combined, particularly his narcissistic and histrionic behaviour along with lack of empathy, impulsiveness and disagreeableness, are indicators of personality disorders (Exploring your mind: ‘Donald Trump’s Personality, According to Psychologists’, 2018).
Albert Bandura’s social – cognitive theory of personality focuses on how personality traits are affected by observational learning. Children imitate the behaviour of others, along with a mental process to determine the consequences of the behaviour. Children use their parents, teachers and peers as ‘models’ to which they observe and imitate, with a desire for certain outcomes motivating them. This learning of behaviour occurs without rewards or reinforcement, highlighting the social importance of observational learning and the cognitive process occurring. Self-efficacy beliefs people have about themselves affects their motivations, choices and thoughts, and is a self – regulatory activity. It is situation specific and influences people’s judgement in their ability to complete certain tasks. It also influences the goals people set, strategies used, and what they accomplish.
Donald Trump has elevated self – efficacy beliefs, where he is extremely ambitious and determined to achieve his immensely high goals. Having had huge success in his business ventures and mastering his celebrity status, Trump has built his self – efficacy beliefs to a tremendous level. He has also overcome failures during the economic crisis and his ability to conquer these obstacles prove his resilience and perseverance. During his presidential bid Trump stated “We need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that” (Hoffman, 2015). Trump had very little self – doubt over his ability to make America great.
Trump displays strong competency beliefs, truly believing he is one of the most successful and powerful men in the world. He regards himself as being qualified to win the presidential debate, even with no political experience. He declared during his campaign that the election would be “based on competence”. He is self – assured and has high self – esteem, however there is also aggression in the way that he achieves his goals. Trump has learned that aggression can help him accomplish tasks and using bullying tactics can allow him to get exactly what he wants. This aggression can be perceived by the public as a strong leadership quality that they would want in a President.
In conclusion Donald Trump displays various personality disorders from analysing his public behaviour. He is paranoid and has a loose grip on reality which is manifesting to have serious consequences on society. He currently has declared a state of emergency in the US until he builds the wall between the American and Mexican border. Trump’s aggressive and destructive behaviour will have a long-term impact on the United States and globally. Trump could be potentially very dangerous with the power and decision-making capacity he holds, particularly in terms of a world war using nuclear weapons.
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