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Former Bush official puts Trump on the couch: a ‘10 out of 10 narcissist’

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 6 days ago Colby Itkowitz, Mike DeBonis
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during the 38th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Day service at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.  Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg © Kevin Dietsch/Bloomberg President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during the 38th annual National Peace Officers Memorial Day service at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg

Top House Republicans who attended a presentation about China and trade on this week also received a psychological profile of President Trump. 

Larry Lindsey, a former economic adviser to president George W. Bush who now runs a consulting business, was invited by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to give an overview of the current U.S.-China trade war.

But Lindsey also came prepared Tuesday with his own research on Trump’s character, telling Republican lawmakers that he had asked two psychologists to evaluate the president from afar. The professionals found that Trump was a “10 out of 10 narcissist,” Lindsey told the Republicans, according to a GOP aide present at the talk.

“That’s what he scored,” Lindsey said, clarifying this wasn’t just his opinion.

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Lindsey continued with more armchair psychology, diagnosing Trump’s behavior as a symptom of his upbringing and a mother who didn’t pay enough attention to him. 

Biographers have struggled to build a full portrait of Trump’s mother, Mary, a Scottish immigrant who the president has described as a demanding woman with a stern Presbyterian faith and a love of pageantry and showmanship. Some executives who knew Trump in the early stages of his career said Trump’s mother spoiled him, yet she’s only a thinly described figure in Trump’s own retelling of his childhood.

Lindsey also compared Trump’s long-term planning ability to that of an “empty chair.”

The riff on Trump, first reported by Politico, lasted about two minutes as part of a longer presentation on China. Lindsey was otherwise complimentary about how Trump has handled the trade conflict.

Lindsey also shared a character analysis of Xi, calling him a “sociopath.” He described the two nations’ standoff “existential” and said both the United States and China cannot win so the U.S. has to stay tough.

“It was actually an informative and interesting conversation,” the GOP aide said.

Members in attendance did not attempt to challenge Lindsey’s characterization of Trump, aides said.

“I think most were a little taken aback but no one interrupted,” another GOP aide said. “I was surprised McCarthy didn’t since it was his guest.”

McCarthy’s spokesman Matt Sparks declined to comment.

“It was bizarre and very unclear why he was chosen to be an invited guest,” the aide said. “It came out of nowhere. I assumed he was invited to talk about the economy but he went right into the whole psychoanalysis thing.”

Lawrence B. Lindsey, George W. Bush standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Then-president-elect George W. Bush, right, with adviser Larry Lindsey, takes part in an economic meeting with business leaders in Texas on Jan. 3, 2001. © Eric Gay/AP Then-president-elect George W. Bush, right, with adviser Larry Lindsey, takes part in an economic meeting with business leaders in Texas on Jan. 3, 2001.

A person with narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit such traits as a “grandiose sense of self-importance,” “requires excessive admiration,” “is interpersonally exploitative” and “shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.” There are actually nine traits of people with narcissistic personality disorder, rather than 10. 

Many mental health professionals have tried to diagnose Trump from a distance despite the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater rule,” prohibiting psychiatrists from assessing public officials if they did not evaluate them in person.

But some have challenged that rule, arguing it is their “duty to warn” the public if they determine there’s enough evidence to suggest Trump has a serious mental health issue. A petition to that effect was signed by 70,699 mental health professionals.

colby.itkowitz@washpost.com

mike.debonis@washpost.com

Marc Fisher contributed to this report.

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