90 Miles From Tyranny : A Psychological Study of Trump Worth Reading

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

A Psychological Study of Trump Worth Reading

"I esteem biography, as giving us what comes near to ourselves, what we can turn to use." —Samuel Johnson

Donald Trump inspires almost universal disapproval and scorn among wordsmith professionals in the mental health field. He has been the target of diagnoses ranging from "pathological narcissism" to "bipolar disorder" to "dementia."

At last we can be grateful among the torrent of books about the president for one that justifies what Dr. Johnson called the "epidemical conspiracy for the destruction of paper."

Sheldon Roth, M.D. has performed an important service, not just to history, but to the field of depth psychology. He has demonstrated ways in which it can illuminate the deep motivational wellsprings of a unique individual like Donald Trump. His psycho-biography, Psychologically Sound: The Mind of Donald J. Trump, makes real and clear the truth of Wordsworth's observation that "the child is father to the man."

Trump is in the middle of a remarkable first term during which he has disrupted the various myths of our present-day wordsmith Utopians. Their favored story has been of American decline, a decline well deserved by a racist and sexist country. Donald Trump utterly dismissed this story, laughing at its politically correct absurdity. His humor offends them while shattering their belief that presidents should be austere and solemn. How did he manage to prevail in reviving American optimism, growing the economy while destroying the ISIS caliphate and reversing our appeasement policies toward Iran and China? And he did all of this under constant siege by the wordsmith graduates of our elite universities and journalism schools. Laughter and optimism helped.

Dr. Roth has chosen to assume that there are discoverable psychological reasons why Donald Trump beat all rivals to become a disruptive president. Trump's personal psychology, Roth shows, met the psychological needs of a country that had lost its confident stance toward the future. It's why his slogan, "Make America Great Again" (MAGA), worked. His flawed humanity possessed skills that met the historical moment.

Dr. Roth's book does not make a political argument. Instead, it explores the roles played by Donald Trump's mother, father, siblings, and mentors in shaping his psychological life. It looks with a unique perspective at the role of fantasies and dreams, through exploration of a movie, Citizen Kane, that sank deeply into the young Trump's psyche. Movies draw much from dreams and can function as borrowed dreams and fantasies for viewers. Dr. Roth utilizes dream analysis as applied to Trump's favorite movie to deepen our understanding of his lifelong drive to succeed in shaping his life. Dr. Roth also notes the psychological strengths Trump gained from exposure to the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale's sermons. Those sermons shaped not only his conscious ability to sell a positive agenda, but his fundamental unconscious stance toward life and his version of the American dream as a constant striving toward...

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