Thursday, September 17, 2020

Comparing Traits of Pathological Cult Leaders to Donald Trump

In 2012, Psychology Today published an article written by Joe Navarro, formerly an FBI profiler and founding member of the its Behavior Analysis Unit.  In that capacity, Navarro studied Jim Jones, leader of the People's Temple (pictured below), David Koresh, who led the Branch Davidians,, Charles Manson, and numerous others cult leaders, not just in the United States, but from around the world.  

In the article, Navarro provides a lists 50 "typical traits of a pathological cult leader that you should watch for."  Below I provide Navarro's list, emboldening the ones that I believe apply to President Trump and his followers:

  1. He has a grandiose idea of who he is and what he can achieve.
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
  3. Demands blind, unquestioned obedience.
  4. Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement—expecting to be treated as special at all times.
  6. Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of relatives, putting others at financial risk.  (Note, this is a bit "iffy" but the Trump fundraising efforts are pretty aggressive.)
  7. Is arrogant and haughty in his behavior or attitude.
  8. Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
  9. Takes sexual advantage of members of his sect or cult.
  10. Sex is a requirement with adults and sub adults as part of a ritual or rite.
  11. Is hypersensitive to how he is seen or perceived by others. 
  12. Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
  13. Makes members confess their sins or faults, publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent.
  14. Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
  15. Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
  16. Needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to ensure that he or she is being noticed, e.g., by arriving late, using exotic clothing, overdramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances.
  17. Has insisted on always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
  18. Doesn’t seem to listen well to needs of others; communication is usually one-way, in the form of dictates.
  19. Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of his personality.
  20. Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
  21. When criticized he tends to lash out not just with anger but with rage.
  22. Anyone who criticizes or questions him is called an “enemy.”
  23. Refers to non-members or non-believers as “the enemy.”
  24. Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
  25. Believes himself to be omnipotent.
  26. Has “magical” answers or solutions to problems.
  27. Is superficially charming.
  28. Habitually puts down others as inferior; only he is superior.
  29. Has a certain coldness or aloofness about him that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know him.
  30. Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted.
  31. Treats others with contempt and arrogance.
  32. Is constantly assessing people to determine those who are a threat or those who revere him.
  33. The word “I” dominates his conversations. He is oblivious to how often he references himself.
  34. Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly; when he does he acts out with rage.
  35. Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything he has done wrong nor does he apologize for his actions.
  36. Believes he possesses the answers and solutions to world problems.
  37. Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.  (Note: If Trump has not explicitly said this, his supporters sure have.)
  38. "Rigid," "unbending," or "insensitive" describes how this person thinks.
  39. Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
  40. Has isolated members of his sect from contact with family or the outside world.  (Note:  Although Trump hasn't explicitly does this, he doesn't have to.  Right-wing news outlets, including Fox News, and social media have created an echo chamber that reconfirms Trumpers pre-existing views and isolates them from outside information which would be critical of Dear Leader.)
  41. Monitors and/or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
  42. Works the least but demands the most.
  43. Has stated that he is “destined for greatness” or that he will be “martyred.”
  44. Seems to be highly dependent on tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
  45. Uses enforcers or sycophants to ensure compliance from members or believers.
  46. Sees self as “unstoppable” and perhaps has even said so.
  47. Conceals background or family, which would disclose how plain or ordinary he is.  (Trump tries to silence anyone, including family members, who dare tell the truth about his background.) 
  48. Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with himself and in fact sees himself as perfection or “blessed.”
  49. Has taken away followers' freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life and liberty.
  50. Has isolated the group physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed
By my count, Trump has 45 of the 50 characteristics of a personality cult leader.  Again, let me emphasize that Navarro came up with this list in 2012, three years before Trump announced as a candidate. 

OOPs short takes:
  • Keep an eye on a developing story involving sterilization of immigrant women at detention centers.  I read the nurse whistleblower complaint, which broke the story.   Although the media has thus far called it "forced" sterilization, the complaint makes it sounds like more like the women, who did not speak English, were duped into having hysterectomies.  Since the nurse did not appear to have direct knowledge of the sterilizations, I'm going to reserve judgment.
  • Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Barr said Covid-19 lockdowns are the worst threat to civil liberty since slavery.  I may have to rethink my position that Barr is dangerous because although he is corrupt, like Trump, unlike Trump, Barr is smart.  Barr might want to read up on the use of Jim Crow laws against African-Americans, the forced relocation of Native Americans after the Civil War, the Japanese internment camps set up by our government during World War II, and forced sterilizations of young women as part of eugenics programs.  Oh, and the Tuskegee experiment in which our government allowed African-American men to suffer and die from untreated syphilis because they wanted to document how the untreated disease progressed...yeah, that might have been worse than not being able to go see a movie with friends during a pandemic.
  • Saw that the Indianapolis City-County Council committee voted unanimously to issue a $155 million, 30 year bond to expand the convention center.  Apparently the fact convention business has been in decline for years and we are in the middle of a pandemic didn't slow down our local elected officials.  Is there any corporate welfare scheme that our local politicians won't wholeheartedly endorse? Is there ever going to be an Indianapolis politician stand up for the taxpayers?  I hope to write more about this soon.


Unknown said...

Hope we can Hitlerism and Jim Crowism in Trump and Barr

Anonymous said...

Union payoff?