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George Conway weighs in

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump responding to reporters questions as he heads to the Marine One helicopter on Friday.

I apologize in advance. This post is going to be weird. My only purpose is to encourage you to read an article that was published yesterday by The Atlantic, which I have read and admired for many decades.

The article is not short, but it’s important. If you’re ready to read it, don’t bother wasting any more on my summary of it or quotations from it below. Just click that link and feel to come back here afterwards if you want to comment.

The article was written by George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. George Conway argues that a very, very famous individual, who holds a very high position in in the U.S. government, suffers from mental/psychological disorders so serious that it would dangerous to the point of foolhardy to allow this individual to continue to bear the responsibilities and exercise the powers of that high office.

Conway knows the individual well, and in addition has studied up on the psychological disorders in question, most especially “narcissistic personality disorder,” which Conway also refers to as “pathological narcissism.”

You may think I’m being cute here by not mentioning the name. Maybe so. But unlike Conway, I have not met the person involved, nor studied the psychological disorders to which Conway refers. He knows the person and, although he is an attorney, not a psychiatrist, he has obviously studied to understand how psychiatry defines these disorders. Conway concludes that this person suffers from “extreme” or “pathological” narcissism. He writes:

The DSM-5 describes its conception of pathological narcissism this way: ‘The essential feature of narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.’ The manual sets out nine diagnostic criteria that are indicative of the disorder, but only five of the nine need be present for a diagnosis of NPD to be made. Here are the nine:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

  4. Requires excessive admiration.

  5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).

  6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).

  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others.

  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes…

Conway also quotes from a book by Justin A. Frank, a former clinical professor of psychiatry and physician, who wrote a book about this person’s psychology. To wit: His “mental state,[Frank wrote], “include[s] so many psychic afflictions” that a “working knowledge of psychiatric disorders is essential to understanding [him].” 

Indeed according the psychiatrists quoted in Conway’s piece, the larger diagnosis can consist of combinations of four specific problems, “narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personality and sadism” in any combination, but the individual in question exhibits all four.”

Conway also cites a piece published in May in in USA Today by Psychologist John Gartner, the founder of an organization called Duty To Warn, referring to the various psychological issues troubling the individual in question: “There are a lot of things wrong with him—and, together, they are a scary witch’s brew.”

The name of Gartner’s organization refers to the obligation that the law imposes upon a party who has the opportunity to warn other of a hazard, but and failed to do so.

Comments (36)

  1. Submitted by Misty Martin on 10/04/2019 - 11:36 am.


    I read all 9 points – so when does the “new” biography of our dear P.O.T.U.S. come out?!? Is it in bookstores already?!?

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/04/2019 - 11:44 am.

    “He knows the person and, although he is an attorney, not a psychiatrist, he has obviously studied to understand how psychiatry defines these disorders.”

    Therein lies the problem. I agree that Trump is, as the Brits would say, barking mad,but I am neither a psychologist nor psychiatrist. There is always going to be a question of how much the opinions of laypeople, or professionals who have not come face-to-face with Trump, are colored by their distaste for him.

    I can, and have, used DSM-5, but as a reference only, to understand what trained professionals are talking about. I don’t think that my use of that reference qualifies me to make an armchair diagnosis. yes, it’s obvious to me and many others that Trump is not mentally balanced. Obviousness is not a diagnosis.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/04/2019 - 01:47 pm.

      “Studying up” does not make one a psychologist or a psychiatrist — the DSM is written to provide qualified practitioners with guidelines for distinguishing between different diagnostic categories; NOT a guide to diagnosis itself.
      Standard disclaimer: I am a psychologist (at one time licensed in the State of Minnesota). I am NOT a trained clinical psychologist and would not attempt to diagnose mental illness. I would content myself with observing that the individual’s behavior appears to be outside of the normal range.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/04/2019 - 12:05 pm.

    During the Bush years, people like me who were critical of the president were accused of “Bush Derangement Syndrome”. At the time, I thought that was a tactic used by Bush supporters to avoid issues substantive policy issues. I made a promise to myself then to not ever accuse those who disagree with me to such disagreements to a mental illness or some sort of syndrome. I have kept that promise, mostly, And the fact is, I do not feel Mr. Trump is any sense mentally ill in any way. Like a lot of successful people and a lot of people who appear successful, he is a narcissist. Most politicians are in my experience. People who are not full of themselves don’t run for office. Trump is, perhaps an extreme case, but if I did have a problem with that, I wouldn’t have voted for Clinton twice.

    Instead, I think the problem with Trump is that he is a con man, and just basically a bad guy. What we are now seeing in full public display is a man without a personal code. He manifestly believes that since the Justice Department has ruled that a president cannot be indicted for a crime, that means he can commit any crime he wants, with impunity. The outcome of the Muller probe demonstrated to him that he could collude with Russia and obstruct justice without consequence, so now he colluding with other foreign powers and obstructing investigations into those dealings in plain sight without even bothering to conceal his dealings.

    • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 10/04/2019 - 12:29 pm.

      Well said Hiram in terms of what’s wrong with the POTUS.

      I’m surprised that the political right doesn’t run with the mental illness defense. Over the decades they generally have accused others of using it to get the guilty off the hook.

  4. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/04/2019 - 12:10 pm.

    The problem lies not in the diagnosis, but in the willingness of people in a position to do something about it doing so.

    If we assume Conway is correct, presumably members of the cabinet have reached similar conclusions; yet they’ve not taken action. Presumably Republican Senators would also be in a position to see this problem up close; yet none have spoken out or seem poised to take action.

    So it seems that either the diagnosis is incorrect, or the people who can do something about it don’t care to.

    Conway has certainly been open about his feelings about the individual for some time. Yet he seems to have won no converts on his side of the aisle. I don’t know why we’d expect this article to change that.

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/04/2019 - 12:20 pm.

    While I appreciate the article, it seems more “preaching to the choir.” The country is a point where the problem is more with the 40+% of the voting electorate that cannot or refuse to see any problem with this behavior. And the other “leaders” too cowed to denounce it or too eager to reap some benefit they see in condoning it.

  6. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 10/04/2019 - 02:47 pm.

    “The country is a point where the problem is more with the 40+% of the voting electorate that cannot or refuse to see any problem with this behavior.”

    I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment. As one of the 40+% that supports Trump, I have plenty of problems with his behavior. I wish he’d be more introspective; I don’t approve of his use of foul language, I wish he’d learn to couch his words along the lines of every one of his predecessors. I wish he’d be more pro-active in enforcing immigration law, and taking action against state and local lefties that are working to subvert the law.

    Given all that, I haven’t seen anything he’s done or said to be seditious, unconstitutional or illegal, and he *is* an effective leader. Every time he says something, the media goes nuts and the left goes nuts, and he confirms more federal court judges ready to defend the Constitution. I’m convinced he’s using Ali’s rope-a-dope on the left, and doing it superbly.

    I’m ready to support Pence, when his time comes, but for the present I’m content to overlook the warts.

    I think it’s more accurate to say that 40+% of the country wants nothing to do with lefties.

    • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 10/04/2019 - 03:51 pm.

      So basically, Republicans are fine with the president breaking the law, that’s one mighty big wart.

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 10/05/2019 - 07:18 am.

        No one has produced evidence of law breaking that would hold up in court. If real evidence is produced (not hearsay or a “feeling” from a never trumper in the deep state) of a quid pro quo I’ll change my tune. So far we have plenty of evidence that this is another Democrat hit job a la Russia Collusion and Balsey-Ford.

        • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 10/06/2019 - 09:46 am.

          The evidence is out there in plain sight, you’re choosing to ignore it and spouting conspiracy theories that actually have no basis. Putin did spend an effort to sway our election and has the guy he wanted in the White House. You guy’s sound like you think the whole world is conspiring against you because of all the bad news about Republicans. How about holding your own side accountable for something?

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 10/07/2019 - 11:43 am.

        No sir, I said (clearly I thought) “I haven’t seen anything he’s done or said to be seditious, unconstitutional or illegal”.

        Hopefully, it’s more clear this time.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/04/2019 - 07:00 pm.

      And Ali also ended up brain-damaged.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/04/2019 - 08:55 pm.

      As always, can you put some meat on those bones?

      “I wish he’d be more pro-active in enforcing immigration law, and taking action against state and local lefties that are working to subvert the law.”

      “I think it’s more accurate to say that 40+% of the country wants nothing to do with lefties.”
      We probably agree they hate the left because they believe in equality and democracy for all, and your 40% seem to prefer a Dictatorial Russian Oligarch type system. Don’t get to vote, don’t need to talk about it, don’t need differences of opinion, don’t need science, don’t need anyone or anything just follow the master!

  7. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/04/2019 - 05:32 pm.

    “Every time he says something, the media goes nuts and the left goes nuts, and he confirms more federal court judges ready to defend the Constitution. I’m convinced he’s using Ali’s rope-a-dope on the left, and doing it superbly.”

    Or more succinctly, if he says something which makes the media and many other people go nuts, they are “lefties” on whom he’s using Ali’s rope-a-dope. If “they” say he’s doing something wrong, he must be doing something right.

  8. Submitted by cory johnson on 10/05/2019 - 10:05 am.

    Volker’s testimony blows enormous holes in the Dems theory of what happened with Ukraine:
    And I so surprised Schiff would selectively release texts out of context to help his cause. He’s usually such a stand up guy.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/07/2019 - 09:31 pm.

      Could you please “Show the holes” ? Kind of like Shogun, Do we need to read the entire Novel to understand how Blackthorn and the Shogun end up?

    • Submitted by Doug Duwenhoegger on 10/10/2019 - 02:08 pm.

      I’m at the point now where I believe nothing released unless it is presented under oath with the penalty of perjury.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/05/2019 - 11:28 am.

    I just have to say that it’s kind of funny when people decide that a mundane observation of a long since recognized fact is “brilliant” just because someone they admire or a publication they endorse just decided to publish it.

    This model of “legitimacy” being dependent on “recognized” authority perpetuates the myth of media consensus and it’s legitimacy. This is simply a model of legitimacy that marginalizes facts and observations until a media elite decides they are “acceptable”.

    I suppose it IS somewhat revealing when even the consensus media finally reports something others have been discussing for months, years, or even decades. But it’s always kind funny when the last people to recognize the bloody obvious pretend to be the first people to do so, even the most “important” people to so.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/05/2019 - 01:59 pm.

    “George Thomas Conway III is an American attorney. Conway was on the short list of candidates considered by President Donald Trump for United States Solicitor General prior to the nomination in March 2017 of Noel Francisco for that position. He was subsequently considered for assistant attorney general for the Civil Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. He is married to Kellyanne Conway, a political consultant who is a counselor to the president for Trump. During 2018, he emerged as a sharp critic of Trump.”

    Mention Kellyanne’s goofy husband to republicans and they will simply roll their eyes.

    • Submitted by Curt Carlson on 10/05/2019 - 09:58 pm.

      Republicans have shown that they will simply roll their eyes at anything that doesn’t further their own corrupt interests.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 10/05/2019 - 11:03 pm.

      You understand we have no concern as to the thoughts of conservatives, right? Conservative thought from this point being disqualified as composed of reason and logic?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/06/2019 - 10:48 am.

      Just as Republicans now roll their eyes as their party descends into Fascism, corruption, and treason.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 10/07/2019 - 05:05 am.

      Dennis, please look at the nine diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic personality disorder that George Conway refers to.

      I think if you’re being at all honest I think you would have to admit that the president is at least an 8 – 10 on all of them, on a scale o 0 to 10, and IMO, he’s an 11 or a 12 on many if not most of them, isn’t he?

      No, George Conway is not the “goofy” one, he makes perfect sense in pointing out that this is not a well man, nor is he acting remotely as a president should, or even as well as the average man in our society would in terms of his behavior and mental health.

      He’s childish, impulsive, undisciplined, crude, foul-mouthed and temperamental – exactly what you DON’T want in a leader, much less the president of the United states!

      Day by day he is degrading the respect other countries around the world have for our country, because we have a leader with such glaring personality and character flaws.

      Trump-publicans see this behavior every day as the rest of us do, but casually excuse it, when in fact they would absolutely NOT excuse it if it came from a Democratic president.

      The goofy ones are his sycophant wife KellyAnne, Giuliani, and all the other enablers, and all the Trump-publicans in general pretending that they don’t see the obvious signs of his poor mental state EVERY DAY, and also pretending that he hasn’t been walking all over the constitution for 3 years now in an attempt to create a defacto dictatorship, and many are now pretending it’s okay to hold back desperately needed military aid in exchange for promises to dig up dirt on his leading political opponent in 2020.

      As even many Fox news hosts now agree, that’s against the law and is an impeachable offense, but to me it should be just added to all the other impeachable offenses, to create a COMPOSITE list of reasons why he should be impeached, not just limited to this one item under debate right now.

      Just to list-off offenses that come to mind quickly, let’s consider this quickly assembled composite list of reasons for impeachment, which is probably missing items –

      1. The 10 counts of obstruction of justice Mueller found, including firing Comey because of “the Russia thing”.

      2. The conspiracy with Russia to get dirt of Clinton, and for which Trump Jr should have been indicted for, but Mueller didn’t have the courage to do so.
      Not to mention the long list of fishy and criminal Russian connections – Manafort, Flynn, Carter Page, etc, etc.

      3. His praise of dictators like Putin, or Kim of Korea, who he gushes about receiving “beautiful” letters from, while Kim continues his weapons program.

      Here is a perfect example of the danger of narcissism – if the president receives a flattering “beautiful” letter from Kim, this is more meaningful to the president than the fact that Kim is lying and continuing his weapons development program!!!

      The interests of the USA are put on the back burner, in favor of the needs of his ego and narcissism for praise and flattery.

      Same with Putin, who called him “brilliant” in 2015, which made Trump his boy immediately, and now Putin can do no wrong according to the president.

      That is dangerous, to have a president who can be moved by a little cheap flattery to compromise our security and our national interests.


      4. His undermining of NATO, calling it “obsolete” and questioning whether he might or might not honor it to come to the defense of a member state! His alienation of ALL our traditional allies.

      5. Violating campaign finance laws by not reporting hush money payments to Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

      6. Continually breaking the emoluments clause of the constitution by making money off military personnel stay at his Scottish property, military jets refuel at the nearby struggling airport, and the huge number of governments, corporations and people booking at his hotels (and sometimes not even staying there) to curry favor with him.

      7. Nepotism – appointing Jared Kushner to solve the mideast crisis when has zero experience to justify that, and then letting him go all over the world looking for huge loans from foreigners to bail out his struggling real estate company. Same nepotism with Ivanka, who got 16 trademarks from China on one trip.

      8. No president in modern history has had the turnover of cabinet members and has as many unfilled positions as this administration, it’s a skeleton crew of yes-men and yes-women, based not on competency, but on a willingness to follow the great leader and not ruffle his ego.

      9. Appointing a person to the attorney general role to act as if he were the president’s personal attorney, NOT an independent attorney general looking to defend the constitution and the interests of the people of the United states.

      10. Doing an end-run around the 3 branches of government by declaring the border issues an “Emergency”, which he claims entitles him to steal money to fund his pet project, when congress is supposed to have sole power over how money is spent per the constitution.

      This, along with hijacking the attorney general office advances his attempt to try to obtain a defacto dictatorship, having greatly reduced the power and independence of the other two branches of government.

      11. Viciously attacking any republican congressman or senator who disagrees with him on anything – vowing and often succeeding in getting his base to replace that person in their next primary. Thus essentially taking away much of the equal power that congress is supposed to have in our checks and balances system of government.

      12. Now recently, we have the blatantly unconstitutional use of the power of the presidency to attack a political rival, and ironically under the guise of suddenly being so concerned about “corruption”, when in fact just looking at how he himself and his children and Jared Kushner have sought to profit from his position of president, makes any benefit Hunter Biden got from being the son of the then VP look like child’s play by comparison I suspect.

      All three, the president, Ivanka, and Jared have made many millions of dollars IMO by leveraging the president’s office for their personal gain.

      This BiPartisanreport article linked-to below talks about 90 million dollars that Kushner may have obtained thru his position as son-in-law to the president, which spectacularly dwarfs any alleged misdoing by Hunter Biden.

      I’m not saying Hunter Biden may not have worked out a cozy deal with that natural gas company that shouldn’t have happened, but he is an amateur compared to the Trump family IMO when it comes to corruption.

      And Joe Biden was bragging about getting that Ukrainian prosecutor fired because the prosecutor was perceived himself as being very corrupt, across Europe and here in the US, including with several Republican senators!

      And he was let go not to protect Biden’s son, the natural gas company investigations had been shelved over a year earlier, he was let go because again, he was widely perceived including by republican senators and across Europe as being corrupt, and not the straight-shooter hot on the heels of the natural gas company that the right wing conspiracy theorists suggest.

      Trump-publicans overlook all the shady dealings of the Trump family, and they only become very, very selectively concerned about ‘corruption’ when it is time to try to bring down a democratic political opponent.

      That’s beyond ‘goofy’, this deliberate “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to the president and his family and his poor mental state and his questionable, self-serving and poor judgment, as exhibited by Trump-publicans, is IMO a treasonous dereliction of duty to the country and to our democracy and to the constitution.

      Bill Clinton was impeached for having an affair and then lying about it, the composite list of offenses by Donald Trump is far, far longer, and the offenses far, far more serious, yet hypocrites like Gingrich are acting like there is nothing there that merits impeachment.

      It was just horrible when Clinton had an affair and lied about it (which probably millions of Americans do every year), but when Trump does the same thing, AND pays unreported hush money violating campaign finance laws, AND lies about the whole thing to the whole world, that’s NOTHING!!

      And in my composite list of offenses above, IMO that’s one of the less serious ones!

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/07/2019 - 08:42 am.

    Trumps personality may be problematic, but Republican Fascism is a national crises.

  12. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/07/2019 - 12:08 pm.

    And today we see that Trump is threatening to “destroy and obliterate the Economy [sic] of Turkey” if it does anything that Trump, “in [his] great and unmatched wisdom, consider[s] to be off limits.”

    Remind me why it’s a good idea to let someone with this mind-set anywhere within 20 miles of the nuclear codes.

    • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 10/07/2019 - 06:47 pm.

      “In my great and unmatched wisdom” – Whoa, really?

      He just sold the Kurds down the river, the people who were the primary force that defeated ISIS in Iraq and Syria at a huge cost in lives, and he opened the way for genocide of the Kurds by Turkey, and he also decided in his unmatched wisdom to hand some 12,000 Sunni ISIS fighters over to Sunni Turkey who apparently has a track record of tolerating or even aiding them according to the article below.

      In fact the article below says that they have typically gone back to Turkey to resupply themselves during the battles, and might be used to blackmail Europe once they are in Turkish hands –

      Gee, great call stable genius!

      This lame-brained decision showed such terrible judgment that even the president’s staunchest sycophants harshly criticized the move, even one of the ‘Fox and friends’ guys went off on him, and the president’s response is to talk about his “my great and unmatched wisdom”???

      Wow, I’d say this is an 11 or 12 on a scale of 0 to 10 for the number one diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic personality disorder, wouldn’t you? –

      “1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements). ”

      He screwed the pooch big time on this one, and yet the self-anointed “Stable genius” brags about his “great and unmatched wisdom”???

      Oh, and then threatens to “obliterate the economy” of a NATO member if they do anything that displeases him (i.e. – they do something like genocide that makes HIM look bad for his dumb decision).

      So he betrays the Kurds and perhaps also alienates Turkey, and risks the release of thousands of ISIS members, all in one or two impulsive, poorly thought-out paragraphs!

      I hope the general public will come to realize that Trump-publicans need to be voted out of office in 2020, since they continue to blindly and slavishly support someone to stay in arguably the most important job in the world, while being in a delusional, narcissistic mental state.

      I don’t necessarily believe the president can help himself, as it seems he’s in the grips of a serious disorder, but it’s unpatriotic and completely irresponsible for the whole of the Trump-publican party to continue to pretend they don’t see the glaring mental issues, and act as if they took an oath of loyalty to a compromised, delusional president, instead of to the country and to the constitution.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/08/2019 - 09:05 am.

        Who describes themselves as having “great and unmatched wisdom,” anyway. Aside, that is, from cartoon supervillains.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/08/2019 - 10:14 am.

          Well RB, there can be only 1, but suspect those RW religious folks forgot or chose to ignore, bringing false idols! What was the saying, “serve the devil as god and not know the difference”.

          • Submitted by Henry Johnson on 10/09/2019 - 09:30 pm.

            I got a good chuckle out of religious ignoramus Pat Robertson today pronouncing ( I guess since he has a direct link to the thoughts of the creator), that Trump was risking “losing the mandate of heaven” by abandoning the Kurds. Really?, the “mandate of heaven”?

            Yes his Syria decision was a heartless betrayal, worthy of criticism, but to claim that someone like Trump, who thru probably his whole adult life has exhibited the classic seven deadly sins like few others, and was proud of it (“you can grab em by the pussy, you can do anything!”) EVER HAD “the mandate of heaven” to risk losing, is just hilarious! ;- )

            I would say it’s more likely that he has the mandate of that other place his whole life, and just increased that mandate thru this latest completely immoral decision.

            Though in his defense, I think the consensus is that narcissists just don’t possess empathy for others, so maybe it’s not really his fault that he just threw a very faithful ally under the Turkish bus, and that 12,000 ISIS fighters might also end up escaping to cause more havoc.

            The real question then is why are so many are bent to keep him in a job that requires objectivity, patience, reason, a willingness to study the issues, to value consultation from others and to weigh options carefully, when all his narcissistic instincts lead him to be subjective, impatient, unreasonable, unwilling to study or be open to the advice of others, and and to make decisions impulsively without weighing the options or their consequences carefully.

            That may have been doable in Trump Inc, where you can hire clever attorneys to declare bankruptcy and get a fresh start, but presidents or the citizens of their country’s don’t get to escape the consequences of bad decisions by just declaring bankruptcy.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/09/2019 - 05:14 pm.

          And what do we have today? Trump more or less equated to god on earth no less, proclaimed by a RW religious leader, What next? Perhaps certain candidates will be declared as prophets of the devil! So when do we see as William Wallace would say” lightening bolts from his arse”

          You can’t make this stuff up!

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