‘TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH’ – towards a psychobiography of Donald J Trump By Femi Olugbile ‘
Too Much and Never Enough’ is the title of a book recently published by Mary Trump, the only niece of Donald Trump. One of the significant things about the book is that it is written by an author who is not only a close member of the Trump family, but also a holder of a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology.
Even before Donald Trump became President of the USA, he had been the subject of much anxious speculation and conjectural analysis by psychiatrists and psychologists. The mental health specialists almost unanimously expressed worry about the man’s mental health and his suitability for what was arguably the most powerful office in the world. Many described him as a narcissistic personality with child-like impulsivity and shortness of attention-span.
By and large, the scary scenarios conjured up by the mental health specialists have not cut any ice with Donald Trump’s die-hard base. They may even have enhanced his image as the outsider who is opposed not only by the ‘Deep State’ but by a mainstream press that is really a fake news mill, as well as an assortment of professionals including psychologists and psychiatrists who cannot accept the genius of Donald J Trump.
Mary is the daughter of Trump’s brother who was the previous heir-apparent to the Trump family business and fortune. Dr Mary Trump, Clinical Psychologist, would appear to be in a better position that anyone has ever been, to write the definitive psychobiography of her Uncle.
There is just a tiny point that is important to note. Mary hates her Uncle. She blames him, along with the family patriarch Fred, for breaking her father Freddie’s spirit and driving him to despair, to alcoholism and early death.
Psychobiography as a genre of literature acquired a certain cachet from the times of Sigmund Freud, the father of Psychoanalysis. Such was the stature and self-confidence of the profession of Psychiatry at one time that many believed that Psychiatrists’ deep knowledge of the human mind could provide answers to War, to Poverty and other ailments of mankind. Some of those early assumptions have since been pared down by hard reality. There have been ‘left-wing’ psychiatrists such as Franz Fanon and right-wing Nazi-supporting psychiatrists. Some psychiatrists took part in the forced admission and ‘treatment’ of political prisoners in totalitarian societies such as the USSR. Some supported Apartheid. Even in Nigeria, some psychiatrists support Feudalism, some support Restructuring and some support IPOB. The inescapable conclusion emerges that all too often, human beings ‘think’ with their guts and ‘rationalize’ with their intellect. It is hard to find a totally objective human being.
Despite the caveats, Psychobiography, when expertly done, is still the best way to know ‘the person behind the person’, and Mary Trump’s book provides the first authentic ‘behind the man’ view of Donald J Trump.
Fred, the patriarch of the Trumps, came from a family that migrated from Germany. He married Mary Anne MacLeod, whose family came from Scotland. Grandmother is described as a woman who was totally self-focused and had no time to show care or affection for any of her children. Grandfather Fred was hard, clipped, precise, and without emotion in his dealings. He detested weakness and despised the slightest display of ‘softness’ in any of his children.
Though Freddie, Mary’s father, was the eldest son of the family, Fred favoured Donald, his younger brother, from early because he resembled him more.
Fred is described by his granddaughter as a ‘high functioning sociopath’ who worked twelve- hour days building his Trump corporation. The elder Trump showed great aptitude for building construction and wheeling and dealing, including underhanded manipulation of local officials. The Trump organization quickly blossomed.
He had naturally expected that his eldest son, named after him, would be like him -ruthless, unemotional, dismissive of government rules and regulations, taking every opportunity to avoid paying taxes, racist, riding rough-shod over other people to get his way.
As Freddie grew up, it was obvious he had nothing of those attributes. He was creative, sensitive, and inclined to explore new boundaries outside the family business. He learned to fly a plane and for a time worked as a pilot for TWA. His father despised him and took every chance to put him down. Gradually, Freddie lost his spirit, turned to alcohol, lost his career, his marriage, and eventually his life. Fred the senior’s attention was fully on Donald, who was everything he wished in a child, and even more. Where the older man was a stiff Board-room type, Donald was outgoing, flamboyant and able to manipulate the press to his advantage, building a public image based on lies and half-truths. Donald was the future of the Trump brand, his father decided. He could do no wrong. Even when he went bankrupt in several business ventures, his father was there to bail him out and help preserve the illusion of the invincible dealmaker. He used his political connections to paper over the cracks in Donald’s persona and to firm up the lie of a high-flying superstar entrepreneur. He encouraged his ego and fed the inferiority complex and ontological insecurity that made him want to put his name on everything he touched, from buildings to toothpaste, to toilet paper.
Getting on television with a virtual reality programme – The Apprentice further burnished his public image as a man with the Midas touch. Illusion had become reality.
Trump the elder died in 1999. Donald, his heir, against reason, and against all the dictates of ‘real reality’, according to the author, became the President of the United States of America in 2016. The rest, as they say, is History.
Mary’s book, despite its inherent bias, is a good read for anyone seeking to understand the man behind ‘The Donald’, and why America is in its present bizarre dilemma.
‘TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH’ is published by Simon & Schuster. It is available on Amazon.