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The United States has never had a president quite like Donald J. Trump. He violated every rule of conventional presidential campaigns to win a race that almost no one, including at times he himself, thought he would win. In so doing, Trump set off cataclysmic shock waves across the country and world that have not subsided and are unlikely to as long as he remains in office. Critics of Trump abound, as do anonymously sourced speculations about his motives, yet the real man behind this unprecedented presidency remains largely unknown. In this innovative analysis, American presidency scholar and trained psychoanalyst Stanley Renshon reaches beyond partisan narrative to offer a serious and substantive examination of Trump’s real psychology and controversial presidency. He analyzes Trump as a preemptive president trying to become transformative by initiating a Politics of American Restoration. Rigorously grounded in both political science and psychology scholarship, The Real Psychology of the Trump Presidency offers a unique and thoughtful perspective on our controversial 45th president.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Preliminaries: The Real Psychology of the Trump Presidency

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Building a Theory of Donald Trump and His Presidency

Abstract
This chapter addresses the issues of what it takes, theoretically and evidentiarily, to develop a viable theory of the psychology of the Trump presidency. This book addresses the literature on presidents, presidential leadership, political time, and the motivations of Trump voters to name a few areas. However, the real literature that is the focus of this book is Trump himself—the man, his development, his thinking and his actions. Is it is possible to find Trump patterns in a kaleidoscopic presidency, doing so while he is still in office, the essential dual nature of his presidency, discerning and analyzing the “real” Trump presidency beyond caricature and setting out Trump’s ultimate presidential ambitions—The Politics of American Restoration. We argue that it is and explain why.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 2. In the Eye of the Hurricane: Strategies for Analyzing the Trump Presidency

Abstract
This chapter discusses the issues associated with psychological analyses of a president “at a distance.” It takes up the issues of narratives as major explanatory vehicles, including conspiracy theories, and how they differ from real efforts at theory building based on considering a range of evidence. The nature and range of that evidence, including “events data,” is considered, as well as how it differs from the more ordinary varieties of anti-Trump analysis. It asks: is making use of more comprehensive consideration of information tantamount to “defending Trump”? The answer to that is: that is not the purpose of the analysis. The chapter ends by laying out the book’s strategy of analysis.
Stanley Renshon

Donald Trump’s Presidential Leadership and Governing Style

Frontmatter

Chapter 3. The Paradoxical Foundations of the Trump Presidency: Causes and Consequences

Abstract
This chapter begins with the role of the presidency in American political life and how that has developed. It then turns to an analysis of the 2016 presidential election from the perspective of two major opposing sides, both of whom saw the election in stark dire terms. In reality, that election brought to the fore a set of simmering political crises that had been brewing for decades, including the abortive rise of the “Tea Party” in 2008, centered on profound issues of trust. We link those with Trump’s election victory and his presidential ambitions, understood as the Politics of American Restoration. We close with a consideration of Trump’s leadership style and demeanor, their relationship to presidential “guardrails,” and the rise of a by any means necessary opposition to the Trump Presidency.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 4. Donald Trump’s Fight Club Presidency

Abstract
This chapter examines Mr. Trump’s combativeness and fight club presidency. That is an important element in his psychology and performs important functions in his presidential leadership and governing style. The chapter examines its early origins in Trump’s family life, its motivations and consequences including Trump’s search for recognition and respect, and its surprising impact on Trump’s sense of freedom and creativity. It also analyzes Trump’s first real adult political fight—about charges of housing discrimination as a template for his business and political career. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Trump’s fight club strategy for realizing his goal of the Politics of American Restoration and why that strategy has utility, but also drawbacks.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 5. Leadership Style, Presidential Success, and Political Time

Abstract
This chapter takes up issue of Trump’s presidential style and demeanor and examines his two presidencies. One is the bombastic tabloid presidency whose latest provocations and opposition responses play out across American political venues. The other is the deeply serious administration efforts to put into place Trump’s signature presidential ambitions. The chapter examines why Trump survives his ferocious opposition in spite of his own missteps. It examines several metrics of presidential “success” and begins to assess Trump’s slow but gathering momentum towards his Restoration goals. We then ask if he will remain stuck in “political time” as a “Disjunctive” president or have a chance to become a “Reconstructive” one.
Stanley Renshon

Psychiatry in the White House: Trump’s Narcissism and “Fitness” for Office

Frontmatter

Chapter 6. President Trump’s Narcissism Reconsidered

Abstract
This chapter focuses on several key Trump psychological traits, all related to the dominant narrative and related memes of Trump’s narcissism and its political consequences. Simply assigning a name to a behavior without an understanding of the term used or fairly presenting the range of evidence needed to support claims associated with such analyses, reflects a lapse of professional ethics and personal integrity. It is also a recipe for substantively shallow analysis. The chapter then turns to a consideration of the difference between impatience and impulsiveness, and their relationship to Trump’s psychology and leadership style. We then examine the real nature of Trump’s narcissism, not only what that term really means, but its real role in Trump’s psychology. The chapter concludes with a detailed analysis of Trump’s motivation to seek the presidency, including several that have never before been examined.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 7. On President Trump’s Psychological and Political Fitness for Office

Abstract
Chapter 7 directly takes up the question of Trump’s supposed psychological and political “unfitness” for office noting the diverse ways Trump critics have used it. The chapter then examines efforts to bypass the Goldwater Rule prohibitions against armchair psychiatric diagnosis by focusing on Trump’s supposed “dangerousness” rather than his “mental illness.” In terms of conceptual reliability and validity a focus on “dangerousness” is no improvement. Analyzing the fiasco that gave rise to Goldwater Rule makes it clear that the ethical and conceptual dangers of unprofessional and substantively unanchored psychological characterizations remain a clear and present danger for virulent anti-Trump speculations.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 8. The Unexpected Trump

Abstract
Chapter 8 takes the examination of Trump’s real psychology into new territory. The narrow focus on Trump’s supposed psychological and political pathologies make him the presidential equivalent of Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man, which is he not. This chapter analyzes aspects of Trump’s psychology that some will consider heretical, perhaps even politically blasphemous, Trump traits. Those include his compassion, his real—often traditional, sometimes unconventional and in a few cases questionable charitable giving, his being there for others in their times of need, his vision and creativity in business and politics, his basic operational metric in life, business and the presidency—Think Big, and his very surprising and unexpected reflectiveness.
Stanley Renshon

The Trump Presidency in Practice

Frontmatter

Chapter 9. Prelude to a Unique Presidency: Preparation, Expectations, and Judgment

Abstract
This chapter begins with an examination of the relevance of Trump’s CEO experience to his presidency. His was not a typical business career and that unorthodox experience helped shape an equally unorthodox presidency. Trump’s success at building a business empire is instructive for his efforts to build its political equivalent. There are similarities—ambition, a can-do spirit, vision, courage, determination, flexibility, an astute sense of timing, and discipline. There are also lessons to be carried into this presidency regarding resilience and successfully coming back from an almost catastrophic business failure. These experiences are likely to be helpful as he navigates the national consequences connected with the Coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath. However, Trump did have to learn how to be a possibly successful president and move on from the many sobering surprises about the office that he found on assuming it, and for which he was not prepared by his CEO experience. The chapter concludes by examining the large range of Trump’s presidential interests, his presidential work patterns, and his approach to the core function of any presidency—his decision making style and judgment.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 10. Essentials of Leadership: The Core Sources of Trump’s Presidency

Abstract
This chapter examines several basic elements of the Trump presidency and leadership. They include: the nature of the president’s supporters, including their supposed “racial resentment” and the nature and reality of their powerful emotional connections of respect and standing linking them with Trump. We then turn to TrumpThink—a magical mystery tour reflecting how Trump understands his world, full of unexpected associative detours, logical lane changing, and surprisingly clear reconnection to his original train of thought. TrumpTalk shares those qualities. It is often meandering, frequently exaggerated, regularly provocative, and honestly heartfelt if rarely fact-check level “correct.” We then take up the issue of TrumpTruth—how he uses facts and tweets—the president’s serial imprecise relationship with “the Truth,” including “larger Truths”; and promise keeping as a strategy for his reelection.
Stanley Renshon

Chapter 11. Conservative American Nationalism: The Trump Doctrine in Theory and Practice

Abstract
This chapter examines Trump’s foreign policy thinking and initiatives. The most fitting conceptual name for the Trump Doctrine is Conservative American Nationalism. It is a framework that is composed of six essential elements: (1) An America First premise in Trump policies; (2) An emphasis on American National Identity as a cornerstone of America’s elemental and dual relationship with itself and the world; (3) Highly selective involvement, with a non-exclusive emphasis on its own terms and interests in defining America’s role in the world; (4) An emphasis on American strength in all its forms, resilience, and resolve; (5) The use of maximum repeated pressure along a continuum of points in pursuit of key goals; and (6) Maximum tactical and strategic flexibility. That doctrine is at least as much a reflection of Trump’s psychology as it is of his thinking and the chapter explores its relationship to his emphasis on action and results, his ambition, the use of force, and the future of the Trump doctrine.
Stanley Renshon

Political Transformation in the Balance

Frontmatter

Chapter 12. The Future of the Trump Presidency

Abstract
This chapter takes up two questions: Does the Trump presidency have a future? And if so, what kind? Much depends on whether Trump wins reelection and if he does, the distribution of power in the House and Senate Trump has bet his presidency on his efforts to change the dominant narratives associated with the eight policy pillars that define his Politics of American Restoration. One question is whether he will succeed. An equally important question, given Trump’s goals, is how do entrenched political paradigms and narratives change? As the election nears, two personal questions face Trump. Does he have the psychological and emotional capacities and reserves for leading and governing this divided country and bringing the country back from the ravages of the Coronavirus pandemic and the political divisions that threaten it? Second, will he be able to do so in the face of continuing unremitting personal and political attacks on his policies, supporters, officials, and family? If Trump wins reelection, whatever the distribution of power in Congress, successfully realizing his Restoration ambitions will be equivalent to scaling Mt. Annapurna. It will take skill, experience, determination, courage, resilience, and a dedicated, competent, and effective group of support allies. Many imagine that climb. Few attempt it. Fewer succeed. The risks are high; the chances of success low; but it would be unwise to place a large bet against President Trump.
Stanley Renshon

Backmatter

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