Donald Trump Might Have A 'Revenge Addiction', Researcher Says

In an op-ed for Politico, researcher and psychiatry lecturer James Kimmel Jr. argued that Donald Trump might be suffering from a "revenge addiction" that parallels an addiction to drugs.

The violence researcher highlighted that both Trump's allies and opponents have noted the president doesn't appear to have control over his tendency to "lash out" at people he believes are his enemies.

"Recently, I've been researching the way grievances affect the brain, and it turns out that your brain on grievance looks a lot like your brain on drugs," Kimmel Jr. wrote. "In fact, brain imaging studies show that harboring a grievance (a perceived wrong or injustice, real or imagined) activates the same neural reward circuitry as narcotics."

He pointed to addiction research that showed environmental cues could trigger related centers in the brain and create cravings from the anticipation of the relief and pleasure that comes from using. The author claimed recent studies have shown that cues linked to a perceived grievance can trigger similar cravings for the relief that comes from retaliation.

"To be clear, the retaliation doesn't need to be physically violent — an unkind word, or tweet, can also be very gratifying," he wrote.

The author pointed to Trump's relentless drive to retaliate against his enemies despite harming himself and others in the process, as well as reports that the head of state has been engaged in this behavior for the majority of his life.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office before signing an executive order related to regulating social media on May 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images | Doug Mills

Kimmel Jr. paralleled the damage from substance addiction to revenge addiction, both of which he said spreads to people not directly involved. He called for compassion for Trump but also underlined the importance of limiting the purported damage he has inflicted on the United States.

Trump's political rise and unorthodox leadership style have sparked conversations about his mental state throughout his first term. Utrecht University developmental psychologist Sander Thomaes called him a "textbook narcissist" and predicted how he would react to an electoral loss.

"We know that narcissists who fail will lash out. Children will do so literally. Narcissists blame others for their failures."
Others have suggested Trump is a threat to both American society and the world. Renowned philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky argued Trump and his allies are sociopaths who are a threat to the survival of Earth. In particular, he highlighted the Trump administration's dysfunction amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as its decision to cut back preparation for the crisis in the face of dire forecasting.