September 17, 2018

Has the CIA defined Donald Trump?

Professor Michael H Hunt is a history professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina. Last year he uncovered a remarkable article in a CIA publication.

Michael H. Hunt -  The June 2017 issue of [the CIA's] Studies in Intelligence contains an article by Dr. Ursula M. Wilder on “The Psychology of Espionage.” Wilder, a psychologist with twenty years of government service, provides a crisp sketch of the three kinds of personality deformation displayed by Americans who have abused their access to top-secret information and betrayed their country: psychopathology, narcissism, and immaturity.. .Wilder’s crisp sketch of each of the three conditions speaks clearly to any layperson trying to make sense of the leader thrust to the fore by the 2016 election.

Aside from the insights it offers, the piece raises two fascinating questions. Why at this point has the CIA — or more exactly the editorial board that oversees Studies in Intelligence — decided to make public an updated version of Wilder’s classified 2003 study? A hidden agenda seems unlikely. But given the antagonism between the president and the intelligence community, it is not impossible to rule out malign intent. Or perhaps we have here the bureaucracy indulging a sense of mischief.

The other question: Is it an accident that a set of personality profiles that keep calling Trump to the reader’s mind appears in a study devoted to spotting and stopping those who would betray state secrets? Given the depth of concern within the intelligence community over Trump’s Russia ties, the connection is again not impossible to rule out.  

Hunt provides a lengthy excerpt from the article. A few short takes:

On the signs of the psychopathological personality:Psychopaths cannot consistently follow laws, rules, and customs and do not understand the social necessity of doing so. They have limited capacity to experience the feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse that are the building blocks of mature conscience and moral functioning. They are facile liars. In fact, many psychopaths take inordinate pleasure in lying because perpetrating an effective “con” gives them a sense of power and control over the person lied to, an emotional charge sometimes termed “duping delight.” Their glee in manipulating others may be so acute that it overrides judgment and good sense, causing them to take foolish risks simply for the pleasure of temporarily conning others....

On the features of narcissism
: Narcissists possess a careless disregard for personal integrity and can be very unscrupulous and manipulative in pursuing their own ends. They are, on the whole, indifferent to the needs of others, who in turn see them as having flawed social consciences. Narcissists feel entitled to special—even extraordinary—favors and status that they do not believe they have to reciprocate. They heedlessly exploit others emotionally and financially, or in other ways that suit their ends. They are deeply antagonistic to sharing decisionmaking with others, irrespective of the legitimacy of the claims of others for some degree of control. Convinced of their own inherent superiority, they blame others for their problems or for negative things that happen to them, including social rejection. Because they do not consider themselves at fault for any troubles or setbacks, narcissists feel at liberty to take whatever steps they deem necessary to redress wrongs or regain a sense of mastery and superiority......

On the tell-tales of immaturity: The most salient characteristic of immaturity is the ascendancy of fantasy over reality. Immature adults spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming, deliberately calling to mind ideas that stimulate pleasant or exciting emotions. In contrast to mature adults, immature adults do not readily distinguish their private world from objective external reality and, in fact, may expect reality to conform to their self-serving and stimulating fantasies. Their fantasies about their special powers, talents, status, prospects, and future actions can be so seductive that they become resentful of conflicting real-world truth...

Consequently, immature adults generally expect others to embrace what to them is the self-evident legitimacy of their personal ideas and longings. They often cannot understand why others do not share their perspective and fail to see that reality itself works against the validity of their fantasies. They frequently will act on their fantasies with little anticipation of consequences that to most people would be completely predictable. They are often genuinely shocked when reality intrudes on their plans and interferes with anticipated outcomes. 

Furthermore, immature people are persistently egocentric, they see themselves as the epicenter of any crowd or event. They believe others are paying close attention to them personally in most contexts, and as a result they are acutely self-aware. When it becomes clear that they are not the center of attention and that others might, in fact, be indifferent to them, they often react negatively and take steps to bring attention to themselves.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She conflates psychopathy and narcissism in her descriptions.