3) Demands blind, unquestioned obedience. Donald Trump has repeatedly had high level employees leave both his campaign and his private businesses. There have been several of these people who have made comments after their departures that Trump wanted unquestioned obedience and acquiescence to his wishes and ideas.
5) Has a sense of entitlement--expects to be treated special at all times. Donald Trump has made numerous public statements all during the campaign that he is special or better than all others and should be treated differently. He has stated many times that interviewers and debate moderators should not be allowed to fact check his statements, no matter how bizarre or false those statements may be. He has stated on more than one occasion that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press should not apply to him and his actions. He has attempted to prevent several major media outlets from covering his campaign because they would not adhere to his ideas of what they should write or broadcast. He even went to far as to suggest that the presidential debates should not have moderators.
6) Is exploitative of other by asking for their money or that of relatives putting others at financial risk. Donald Trump's manifestation of this quality has been in the public eye ever since he announced his candidacy. The well known issue which arose at his notorious "fund raising" for veterans groups has still not been resolved. Most of the groups he claimed to have raised money for have never received the money. This issue is also at the heart of the Trump University Case which is slowly wending its way through the court system despite Trump's blatant attempts to damage the reputation of the judge involved. In the Trump University Case, thousands of people paid unjustified amounts of money for services they never received and the money was intended for the direct benefit of Donald Trump. There is little doubt that the Trump University Case will result in federal indictments in the foreseeable future. There is also no doubt that Donald Trump was only able to go into business in the first place because his father gave him money to do so.
7) Is arrogant and haughty in his behavior or attitude. This quality of a cult leader from Joe Navarro's list describes Donald Trump as if it had been written solely about him. His recent bizarre behavior in the first presidential debate was a combination of arrogance, haughty disregard for both Hillary Clinton and the moderator, and was exhibited literally from the time he walked on stage until he walked off. However, it is appropriate to note here that all his bizarre behavior was not due to this quality alone. He was also extremely angry at being required to be held to the rules of the debate and frequently snorted, sniffed, and twitched because he was on the verge of a a literal explosion of anger. Donald Trump lives under the mistaken impression that he is better, smarter, richer, and more competent than anyone else he encounters. He would have treated Mahatma Ghandi or Thomas Jefferson the same way if he ever met them.
8) has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws. This quality of a cult leader also exemplifies Donald Trump as if Joe Navarro had actually been writing about Trump when he wrote it. His wish to have moderator free debates is a personification of this quality. His refusal to release his income taxes when every presidential candidate for more than fifty years has done so is a manifestation of this quality. His belief that freedom of the press should not apply to him is a manifestation of this quality. The fact that he has caused more than 4,000 innocent victims to need to sue him is a manifestation of this quality. The nefarious way in which Trump University was set up without qualified instructors, with plagiarized lessons and texts, and with total disregard for the financial safety of its "students" is a manifestation of this quality.
9) Takes sexual advantage of members of his sect or cult. Numerous women who have worked for Donald Trump or been involved in the Miss Universe Pagaent have begun to come forward with accusations of sexual harassment by Donald Trump. At this point, more than a dozen women have made public statements that Trump sexually assaulted them. A recent video tape showed Trump making a statement that because he was "a star" he could "grab them by the p...y". Trump has also made at least one statement that he would "date Ivanka" his daughter if she wasn't his daughter is an example of this quality. Trump has also recently made the claim that he "could have slept with Princess Diana" is a manifestation of this quality. There is also recent evidence that Trump has appeared in at least one soft core porno video.
10) Sex is a requirement of adults and subadults as part of a ritual or rite. Joe Navarro's use of the words "ritual or rite" in this quality of a cult leader make it more difficult to state unequivocally that Donald Trump exhibits this quality. But his public statements about sex and sexuality demonstrate an abnormal fixation on issues of sex and sexuality in Trump's mind. Trump's willingness to admit to an interviewer that he could "grab them by the p...y" shows how little disregard he has for any woman. His statements about Princess Diana and his daughter Ivanka are examples of his regularly crossing most publicly acceptable lines about sex. There are also several statements from contestants in the Miss Universe pageant that Trump would "just walk in dressing rooms unannounced" at times when the women were nude. His recent statements about the sexual behavior of Bill Clinton and insinuations that Hillary Clinton might not be "Loyal" to Bill Clinton also cross those lines openly, publicly, and without regard for public mores.
11) Is hypersensitive to how he is perceived or seen by others. This quality of a cult leader describes Donald Trump in a nut shell. He cannot stand to be criticized or critiqued even though he is attempting to gain a public office in which daily criticism and critiques are the norm. His constant comments about how others feel about him and how wonderful he is demonstrate this quality. His rapid and rabid attempts to destroy anyone who speaks ill of him also demonstrate this quality. His thin skin and inability to be criticized are the most common quality many people discuss about Donald Trump.
12) Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy. Once again, this characteristic of a cult leader from Joe Navarro's list describes Donald Trump as if he were the only subject Navarro had in mind when he wrote the list. Throughout his public life, Donald Trump has made a career of claiming anyone who disagreed with him was "stupid", "a loser", "lying Ted", "lying Hillary", etc. Any person who ever speaks out against Donald Trump is the eventual subject of his unfounded derision.
13) Makes members confess their sins or faults publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent. While we have not seen Donald Trump make anyone confess their sins or faults publicly, we have seen him subject many people to public ridicule or humiliation. All sixteen of his primary opponents and Hillary Clinton as well as debate moderator Lester Holt have been subjected to the excoriation and ridicule of Donald Trump. However, both Holt and Clinton withstood these attacks, unlike Trump's primary opponents, and came out the other side as the better individual in the fray. Trump has also used these tactics on any public figures who have endorsed any of his opponents, media persons and newspapers which have failed to endorse him, questioned his actions, or closely examined his motives.
14) Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs. There are numerous persons whose needs have been ignored by Donald Trump. The list includes the 4,000 innocent victims who have been forced to sue him for nonpayment of just debts; the thousands of people who paid exorbitant fees to Trump University and got nothing for their money; the employees, public figures, and American veterans with PTSD who have been ridiculed by Trump; the disabled reporter who was literally and physically mocked by Trump; as well as a host of other people who have been denigrated, shamed, or ridiculed by Trump up to and including legitimate world leaders. It is also amazing to me that his supporters both in Appalachia and the broader environs of the country totally ignore Trump's blatant disregard for the welfare of others and still support his effort to become responsible for the well being of the entire country and the greater free world.
15) Is frequently boastful of accomplishments. It is nearly unnecessary to discuss how Donald Trump personifies this characteristic of a cult leader. He never goes in public without making some unfounded boast about how "wonderful", "intelligent", "brilliant", or "successful" he is. Even after having his 1995 federal income tax returns made public and having the public learn he has probably not paid taxes in nearly twenty years, Trump has claimed this cheating of tax payers and the government is mark of his "genius".
16) Needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to insure that he or she is being noticed by arriving late, using exotic clothing, over dramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances. Once again we have found a characteristic of a cult leader which seems to have been written exclusively with Donald Trump in mind. Donald Trump whines, boasts, yells, blusters, and blames everyone around him when he is not allowed to get his way and be perceived as the most important figure in any room. He will constantly interrupt interviewers, debate opponents, and ordinary citizens at his rallies in order to try to appear as the center of attention. He will whine like a ten year old boy caught stealing candy anytime he is required to defer to others either for debate time or for any other form of attention. Once again Donald Trump fits the characteristic much like a hand fits a well made glove.
17) Has insisted in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing. Trump makes a daily scene in public by boasting about the property he owns, the deals he has completed, the books he has written, and any other object or feat in a perpetual attempt to prove he is better, smarter, or more successful than those around him. Not once in public have I ever seen Donald Trump give even a moment's attention to the acts, clothes, property, or success of other. In addition to being a characteristic of a cult leader, according to Joe Navarro, this characteristic also demonstrates a deep seated inferiority in Trump. People who demonstrate this quality are universally attempting to compensate for their own feelings of inadequacy, failure, incompetence, and inferiority.
18) Doesn’t seem to listen well to needs of others, communication is usually one-way in the form of dictates. Yet another of the traits of cult leaders, as written by Joe Navarro, is like a snap shot of the mind and character of Donald Trump. This characteristic describes Donald Trump's so-called "debate style" in a nut shell. In the first presidential debate, Lester Holt was required to reel Trump in on numerous occasions because he was interrupting, shouting, belittling, and refusing to stay on the topic in the debate. A Facebook Friend of mine, who is also a friend from the period before Facebook, shared a post after the first debate which discussed how Donald Trump had used several traits of domestic abusers in that debate. If time permits, I will also address those issues with regard to Donald Trump in a future post.
19) Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of his personality. Just when you begin to think that no more characteristics of a cult leader can fit Donald Trump perfectly, another pops up that seems to have been written by Joe Navarro after a therapeutic session in which Trump was the client. Trump made a debate long failed attempt in the first debate to appear to be the person in charge, the person superior to all others, and made numerous unbecoming but haughty and grandiose statements and faces in an attempt to control the debate. He made equally egregious attempts to control the second and third debates. This characteristic of a cult leader is a deep seated aspect of Trump's personality. He genuinely believes and proves it hourly that he thinks he is in charge of the world.
20) Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain. Donald Trump has never, in a public setting, acted as if he thinks anyone is a person to be respected. He routinely ignores, belittles, denigrates, besmirches, and criticizes anyone with whom he comes in contact. His sexually derogatory remarks about many women ranging from Hillary Clinton to Miss Universe to Princess Diana prove his inability to respect women in particular. Similar remarks about his male opponents and a disabled male reporter have also proven his inability to respect men in general. He respects no one. He sees everyone as an object to be exploited.
21) When criticized he tends to lash out not just with anger but with rage. Donald Trump generally does an acceptable job of hiding his anger in public settings. But stories have persistently trickled out from those around him or who have left his employment about his verbal abuse of employees. His inability to keep top level campaign staff has also been linked to his treatment of them in bullying, abusive, and angry ways. As a retired mental health professional with twenty years experience, it is my considered professional opinion that Trump's bizarre sniffing, snorting, and twitching during the first presidential debate was a manifestation of his incredible and nearly unsuccessful effort to control his anger at being controlled by the moderator within the rules of the debate and his personal knowledge that he was clearly losing the debate to Hillary Clinton.
22) Anyone who criticizes or questions him is called an “enemy.” The list of people and institutions which have fallen prey to Donald Trump's practice of this quality of a cult leader includes all his opponents, numerous of the finest newspapers in the country, the facility manager at a rally site, and many of the best journalists and television reporters in the country. Anyone who speaks or writes even one word of negative assessment about Donald Trump is subject to fall prey to his attacks. I will personally feel flattered if this writing reaches his eyes and I receive the brunt of one of his virulent attacks.
23) Refers to non-members or non-believers in him as “the enemy.” While I do not easily find public instances of Donald Trump's use of the word "enemy" when discussing people who don't agree with him, he regularly uses other words which are equally as diagnostic with regard to this characteristic of a cult leader. Trump has regularly referred to his opponents and their supporters as "liars", "betrayers", "traitors", "villains", "criminals", etc. all of which are either synonyms or near synonyms of "enemy". He has no desire to listen to, encounter, or deal maturely with anyone who disagrees with his positions on any issue. It is highly likely that this trait has also figured significantly into his inability to retain top level campaign staff.
24) Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire. I would refer the reader back to trait (19) with regard to this trait. Many of the same actions which personify trait (19) also personify this trait of a cult leader. Trump acts regularly as if no opinion or position other than his own holds any significance in the world without regard to how many people hold and express those opinions or positions. The presence of this trait also indicates that Trump is clearly unfit to be in a public office which requires the office holder to listen to constructive criticism and examination of his actions or potential choices of actions to be taken.
25) Believes himself to be omnipotent. On many occasions during this presidential campaign, Donald Trump has claimed that he is "the only person" who can correct what he perceives to be the problems of the country. And, yet, he has never put forth a single structured plan to solve an;y of these perceived problems which can be read, examined, and assessed by others.
26) Has “magical” answers or solutions to problems. This trait is closely related to the previous trait. Donald Trump regularly uses words such as "awesome", "wonderful", "great", and "tremendous" to promote his nebulous claims and cloudy ideas for solving problems. His actions in these situations frequently comes incredibly close to a term called "magical thinking" which is a diagnostic characteristic in several forms of mental illness.
27) Is superficially charming. Once again we have found a trait of a cult leader which is the personification of Donald Trump. He enters all public situations strutting like a barnyard rooster, superficially smiling, hand shaking, and attempting to charm everyone in the room.
28) Habitually puts down others as inferior and only he is superior. Donald Trump lives this trait on a daily, perhaps even hourly basis. In the mind of Donald Trump, he has never met his equal. If God Himself came to earth to meet Donald Trump, Trump would assume it had happened because, in his omniscience, had finally realized that Donald Trump was the most intelligent and powerful being in the universe.
29) Has a certain coldness or aloofness about him that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know him. Trump has a persistent affect in public and in interactions with others in which he stands apart from, ignores, and fails or refuses to join with those in whose company he finds himself. His willingness to confront and belittle all others he meets is personified by a cold, distant, and artificially superior attitude.
30) Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted. With his all consuming need for recognition and adoration, Donald Trump seeks constantly to dominate conversations and public meetings. He cannot tolerate any period of time in which he is not the primary focus of those around him. He artificially creates reasons for others to pay attention to him.
31) Treats others with contempt and arrogance. Yet again we find a quality of a cult leader which appears to have been written after a close encounter of the author with Donald Trump. Trump speaks contemptuously of nearly everyone he has ever met or heard about. Donald Trump wants the world to believe that he has no equal.
32) Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere him. Donald Trump has made far more than sufficient public statements about enemies, threats, or detractors to fully support his all consuming attachment to this quality of a cult leader. He also frequently speaks at rallies of how certain people or groups who love him, adore him, respect him, or believe in him. His most egregiously erroneous act of this nature involved his pointing out "my black supporter" at a rally.
33) The word “I” dominates his conversations. He is oblivious to how often he references himself. Once again, the trait being discussed is much like a photograph of Donald Trump. The majority of his sentences in public contain at least one instance of the personally referential word "I". His incredibly self-centered personality is all consuming. He has no ability to empathize, sympathize, or subsume himself to the needs of anyone. Once again, this trait is a diagnostic feature of Donald Trump's deeply seated inadequacy and inferiority complex.
34) Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly - when he does he acts out with rage. During the majority of this presidential campaign, Donald Trump has managed (barely) to control his tendency toward rage. But his body language has often belied his attempts to do so. He is frequently seen to become tense, physically domineering, and has loomed over Hillary Clinton in a manner during one debate which most mental health professionals interpreted as an attempt to intimidate Secretary Clinton. That attempt failed miserably and only pointed out Hillary Clinton's ability to function coolly under pressure.
35) Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything he has done wrong nor does he apologize for his actions. Regardless of how often Donald Trump has been proven wrong, abusive, threatening, denigrating, or disrespectful of others, Donald Trump has consistently refused to apologize for any of his actions. He genuinely seems to believe that he is never wrong, never inadequate, and never required to admit errors or even abuse of others.
36) Believes he possesses the answers and solutions to world problems. Donald Trump has often made public statements that he is "the only one who can solve the problems" of America. It is interesting and diagnostic that Trump's apparent hero, Adolph Hitler, also built much of his rise to power in Germany on the mistaken idea that he was "the only one who can solve the problems" of Germany.
37) Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity. We have finally found the rare trait of a cult leader which Donald Trump has not manifested clearly and publicly. However, we also have no proof that Donald Trump has ever expressed belief in a deity of any kind. His mistaken belief in his general superiority does leave the door open to the possibility that Donald Trump might actually believe deep in the recesses of his dark, dangerous mind that he could be a deity.
38) Rigid, unbending, or insensitive describes how this person thinks. Donald Trump has no ability to accept that anyone other than himself could have a better idea. He consistently attempts to change the thinking of the entire world to his point of view. There is absolutely overwhelming proof that Trump is incredibly insensitive. His abuse and ridicule of the disabled reporter is clear and absolute proof of the depth and degree of his insensitivity.
39) Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think. As stated in the trait above, Trump tries on a daily basis to change the beliefs and views of the entire country to fit his own twisted view of the world and his ability to control that world.
40) Has isolated members of his sect from contact with family or outside world. There is not clear cut, overwhelming proof of this trait in Donald Trump as there is for more than forty of the others. But, he does live in isolation with his immediate family in Trump Tower or other inaccessible living quarters on some of his other properties. He has almost totally prevented his family members with the exception of one son and one daughter from being exposed to the media. Historically, in American elections, the spouse of the presidential candidates is a key part of the public picture voters are encouraged to get to know. Often, the extended family including parents, siblings, and children are very publicly a part of the candidates team. We may assume that part of the reason for lack of access to Melania Trump is her own questionable past with regard to her status as a non-native born person, the possibility that she may have been involved in prostitution, and that she has quite likely violated her immigration status numerous times. But, I believe that the major reason we see no one in public other than Donald Trump is that Donald Trump trusts no one. That deep distrust is rooted in his own knowledge that he is also untrustworthy.
41) Monitors and or restricts contact with family or outsiders. This trait has also been partially discussed in reference to the trait above. Trump allows little or no contact between most of his family members and aides with the rest of the world. No one seems to be allowed in or out of the sites which the Trump campaign occupies.
42) Works the least but demands the most. Donald Trump's practice or lack thereof with this trait is not clearly discernible. We do not know to what degree he works in comparison to those closest to him. But there is absolutely no doubt that Donald Trump always demands the most from anyone or anything with which he comes into contact. He wants it all and he wants it all from the entire country.
43) Has stated that he is “destined for greatness” or that he will be “martyred.” There is absolutely no doubt that Donald Trump has believed for many years that his is "great", "wonderful", "very intelligent", and destined for greatness in whatever he attempts. To my knowledge, we have no proof that he has ever stated he would be "martyred". But there can be little doubt based on his thinking and public persona that if he had knowledge of his imminent death, he would believe he was being "martyred" and deprived of further "greatness".
44) Seems to be highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments. It is almost laughable to even bother to discuss this trait at any length with reference to Donald Trump. Donald Trump cannot speak three sentences without attempting to convince those around him that he is "wonderful", "intelligent", "qualified", "a genius", or some other widely misused adjective intended to make him look better than he could ever hope to be.
45) Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from members or believers. With regard to this trait, we know that Donald Trump has often used Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christy as well as several of his short term, upper level campaign staff to belittle, deny, denigrate, and defame anyone who has spoken out against him. The list of people who have suffered from the public rants of Donald Trump's virulent henchmen and henchwomen includes Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, all twelve women who have accused Trump of sexual assault, and any members of the media who have dared to write or broadcast stories which showed negative views of Trump.
46) Sees self as “unstoppable” perhaps has even said so. Donald Trump has consistently voiced his mistaken belief that he will win the US Presidency and often belittled every opponent he faced in the campaign. Trump seems to live under the mistaken impression that he has been anointed to the Presidency and expresses that idea daily.
47) Conceals background or family which would disclose how plain or ordinary he is. Discussion of this trait of a cult leader instantly takes us back to the previous discussion of how Donald Trump has worked to keep his wife and family out of the public eye. He has also refused to disclose his income tax history despite a fifty year record of every previous presidential candidate having fully disclosed their tax records. What we learned from the anonymous release of one year of Donald Trump's tax records is that he has successfully beat the United States out of nearly a billion dollars in income taxes. He has also refused to disclose his wife's immigration history with the likely cause being a record of illegal behavior on her part. Donald Trump is not exactly plain or ordinary in some ways but he is clearly an ordinary criminal and public miscreant.
48) Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with himself – in fact sees himself as perfection or “blessed.” There is absolutely not doubt that Donald Trump is incapable of seeing any flaws or shortcomings in himself. He is completely incapable of accepting constructive criticism or questioning. I do not recall having seen Donald Trump refer to himself as "blessed" but I have no doubt that he lives under the mistaken belief that he is perfect.
49) Has taken away the freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life, and liberty of followers. Due to the fact that the Trump campaign does not function as a classic "cult" situated in a single location, it is difficult to see this trait being practiced. However, we should consider that nearly none of the former employees who have left the Trump organization seem to be comfortable in publicly discussing Donald Trump or his organization. None of his ex-wives have even spoken out about him and that seems to be motivated by a combination of bribery and fear.
50) Has isolated the group physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed. Since we are discussing Donald Trump and his potential to be or become a cult leader and are not discussing an actively practicing cult, this trait is difficult to observe or measure. But Trump Tower and most of the other locations in which Donald Trump lives and the campaign works are isolated from the general public. However, there is a great deal of secrecy surrounding this campaign and a clearly ongoing effort to prevent general public knowledge of how it operates, who does specific tasks, and how the organization interacts with the general public and the media. A sense of secrecy pervades the campaign.
At this time it is appropriate to make a few general conclusions about this blog post. We have examined how Donald Trump might or might not fit the fifty diagnostic traits of cult leaders which were written by Joe Navarro, a retired FBI profiler, who wrote this list of traits in his work as a law enforcement officer working to intervene in dangerous cult activity. We have found that Donald Trump clearly and unquestionably fits at least 45 of the 50 traits. One or two of the traits are difficult to assess with regard to Trump because the Trump campaign does not function as a classic cult with a set number of followers living and working in a very limited number of locations. The Trump campaign is a national effort which is headquartered in Trump Tower in a secluded and secretive setting. The Trump organization does not go into shopping centers and recruit members for a cult and ask them to go off to a distant location and "find the light". But the Trump organization does hold large rallies in a variety of public settings such as gymnasiums, arenas, and airport tarmac settings where the general public is encouraged to join an organization which is run by an individual who clearly fits the majority of cult descriptors. It is also appropriate to state that, just as with any general mental health diagnosis, it is not necessary for a cult leader to clearly match all fifty traits in order for them to be a cult leader or for their organization to be a cult. We have other examples of such cults in the past. These include Jehovah's Witnesses and Scientology. And one of the most telling characteristics of any cult is the fact that the average member has no ability whatsoever to doubt the cult leader or to see the danger presented by that leader. The majority of Trump supporters fit that descriptor like a hand fits a glove. Even though Trump has insulted, defamed, and denigrated nearly every minority in the world, admitted to sexually assaulting women, and verbalized a plan for the country which is clearly modeled after Hitler's plan to seize control of Germany, very few of his followers have been able to see his massive and overpowering flaws.
It is also appropriate at this time to state my one serious misgiving about the fifty traits as written by Joe Navarro. As a trained mental health professional, I believe Mr. Navarro could have condensed these traits into a significantly shorter list of perhaps thirty five to forty traits which would, of course, have been longer but more accurate. However, it is also appropriate to say that Mr. Navarro wrote the traits with a primary purpose of law enforcement investigative work and, I am sure, they suited his purposes quite well.
But, my primary conclusions from this work are that:
1) Donald Trump is clearly a cult leader as examined by these traits.
2) The Donald Trump campaign functions in many ways as a cult without a single confined location.
3) The average follower of Donald Trump functions as a member of that cult without the ability to see or comprehend the degree of danger presented by Donald Trump.