Trump’s Preposterous Delusion of Heroism: A Clinical Perspective

In the densely populated world of untruths told by Trump, I have elsewhere harped on the need to distinguish between his garden variety “strategic lies” (I never met David Duke; I wrote the condolence cards but they may not have been mailed yet; Trump University is a spectaular opportunity) versus “delusional falsehoods,” defined as deeply held beliefs despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary (the Central Park Five are still guilty; thousands and thousands of Muslims celebrated in NJ as the World Trade Center collapsed; God stopped the rain at my inaugural speech; my crowd stretched all the way back to the Washington Monument; the Fake News made up a feud between the intelligence community and myself; I give myself a 10 for responding to Puerto Rico; I own an original Renoir; nobody knows more about (fill in the blank) than I do).

Because Trump’s delusional detachments from objective reality are not bizarre in nature (Martians cast votes for Hillary) but rather what is clinically termed “non-bizarre” (three million fraudulent votes gave Hillary the popular margin), such statements are universally shrugged off as ordinary lies or simple hyberbole. As I have said, the litmus test is whether or not DJT would pass a reliable, remote lie detector test. Given the frequency and history of his delusional falsehoods, there is every reason to conclude he would indeed pass such a test, not so much from any single, isolated statement but if we consider his delusional “body of work” over time. It is reported, for example — and he has never disputed this — that he eats fast food whenever possible to prevent himself from being poisoned, as if that would somehow be a safeguard. If indeed this report is accurate, we begin to move in the direction of the bizarre.

Earlier today, in a speech before a govenors’ convention, during a tirade against the security officials who did not enter Stoneman Douglas High to try to stop the massacre of 17 students and staff, DJT insisted, “I really believe I would have gone in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon.”

We need to take him at his word that he “really believes” he would have entered the building to stop the shooter. Although we do not have indisputable evidence that he is wrong, we known that he avoided the draft and that he often faints at the sight of blood. Conversely, there is not one single sliver of evidence to support his outrageous claim of being in any way capable of such heroism.

There is no evidence to suggest he was simply caught up in momentary emotional hyperbole. If you were to ask him a year from now, he would still believe he would have attempted a rescue, even without a weapon. In the same way he believes to this day that the Central Park Five are guilty, despite the perpetrator having confessed, with DNA that matched the scene nine years after the boys were wrongly convicted. In the same way he insists that thousands of Muslims in NJ celebrated the World Trade Center collapse. It simply didn’t happen. In the same way he insists that he owns an original Renoir, despite being told the painting hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. And so on.

The nature of Trump’s clinical disorder is such that his ongoing, fixed delusions lurk beneath a misleading non-psychotic appearance that he is merely a liar, staggeringly self-absorbed, utterly incapable of empathy, and monumentally dishonest. These descriptions plainly fail to capture the depth of his psychological disturbance. Grandiose and paranoid delusions are triggered into the open only when his delusional beliefs are stimulated or challenged. Although he also harbors paranoid delusions, such as his belief the country is being infiltrated and his food might be poisoned, today we witnessed yet another jarring incident, not of exaggeration, but of a full-blown grandiose delusional detachment.

We must never forget that he alone has unimpeded access to the nuclear codes. And speaking of triggers, Mueller is coming for him.

Chicago, IL

Chicago psychologist, author, professor, psychotherapist. Co-author of NYT bestseller, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump and 16 Huffposts on Trump’s fragility

Chicago psychologist, author, professor, psychotherapist. Co-author of NYT bestseller, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump and 16 Huffposts on Trump’s fragility