We’ve heard everyone from average citizens interviewed for news slots to political pundits to presidential adversaries to actual psychologists refer to billionaire businessman and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a psychopath, but now there’s an actual academic study that asserts that he is just that — a psychopath. The study not only placed him on the psychopathic scale but found that Trump scored higher along said scale than the much reviled German dictator, Adolf Hitler. Interestingly enough, though, it was concluded that both 2016 presidential candidate has psychopathic traits, which, all things considered, might not be as terrible as it first appears.
The Daily Mail reported this week that Donald Trump, who has been reeling in the presidential election polls of late due to ill-considered remarks and entrenching himself with confusing stances on poor policy positions, ranks above Adolf Hitler in a psychopathic traits study conducted by Oxford University. The real estate mogul and reality show star still ranks below such dictators as Ugandan president Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein (who scored the highest on the list), and British monarch Henry VIII.
But the same study indicates that former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also ranks high on the psychopathic scale. Although she scores lower on all the traits (except for two, where the numerical scores are the same) than does Trump, Clinton’s overall score is not that far behind the blustery businessman.
Oxford University’s Dr. Kevin Dutton employed the standard psychometric tool — the Psychopathic Personality Inventory: Revised (PPI-R) — for measuring the psychopathy traits of the candidates and other historical figures. He explained that the traits scale actually does not determine whether or not someone is a true psychopath. “The PPI-R does not say that someone is or is not a psychopath,” he says. “It scores them on eight traits that contribute to a psychopathic character.”
Dutton explains that some of the eight psychopathic traits are positive and associated with success (social influence, fearlessness, and stress immunity), while others are negative and associated with failure (Machiavellian egocentricity, rebellious nonconformity, blame externalization, and carefree nonplanfulness). The eighth trait, cold-heartedness is helpful for making tough decisions such as sending troops off to war — something that could be a useful, if not endearing, trait.
He says the scale isn’t an all-or-nothing statement and that everyone fits along the scale somewhere. It is how leaders use the various traits that ultimately sees them judged by history as successes or failures (or a mixture of both).
“Both great and terrible leaders score higher than the general population for psychopathic traits, but it is the mix of those traits that determines success.”
For instance, the first president of the United States, George Washington, is on the list, scoring well below Hillary Clinton but higher than Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. She also scored several points lower than Britain’s war-time leader Winston Churchill. On the scale, Clinton scored just higher than Rome’s infamous emperor, Nero, and just below France’s conquering emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
As an odd point of reference, Jesus and Saint Paul were both on the list as well, each pulling down the same score. Make of it what you will but, although neither figure is generally referred to as a psychopath, they do appear higher on the psychopathic traits list than Clinton, Bonaparte, and Churchill.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have had the state of their mental health questioned during the primaries and throughout the campaign, but Trump has been targeted the most as being what many generally perceive as a psychopath or even a sociopath. Several reports, like those of Daniel Berger at Huffington Post and Henry Alford at Vanity Fair, have offered the label of a narcissist, with the latter producing a platoon of therapists firing off diagnoses — with examples supplied through Trump’s constant media presence — that the Republican candidate suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder.
The problem going forward after this psychopathic scale revelation could very well be an association with Adolf Hitler, history’s most hated man. As chronicled by The Jerusalem Post, Trump has often been compared to the Nazi dictator (when he’s not being compared to the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (per Salon)) for his mannerisms, speech methodology, and for some of his controversial policies.
Dr. Kevin Dutton’s final take on Trump and Clinton being psychopaths will come down to the perception of the presidential candidates and the reactions to those perceptions.
“In the end,” Dutton says, “while both score relatively highly, it will be up to voters to decide if whether their mix of positive and negative traits should send them to the Oval Office or the psychiatrist’s office.”
To be fair, neither candidate might be what many consider a traditional psychopath since they don’t seem to generate a persona of being some cold, calculating killer. But all psychopaths aren’t killers. And yet, Donald Trump’s statements concerning the use of nuclear weapons (via ThinkProgress), not to mention forcing Muslims in the United States to submit to a national registry database and setting up internment camps (per NBC News), could cause some to truly question whether his level of cold-heartedness might border on the recklessly indifferent and/or the authoritatively despotic.
With those being just a few of the examples the presidential candidate has offered along the campaign trail, Trump has made it all to easy for people — and voters — to see him as just as much a psychopath as Adolf Hitler. And now there’s a study that hints that Donald Trump could be worse.
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