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life-changing event. “If you see him as an
8-year-old boy, it’s very clear,” Cason said. “He
thinks the world revolves around him, and he
hasn't learned to master his basic emotions.
These behaviours (narcissism, codependent
traits and maybe even psychopathy) were passed
from his domineering father, escalated by his
brother’s drinking, and aided by his family’s
abundant financial resources."
What happens to untreated Al-Anons like Trump
There’s a saying in 12-Step fellowships like
Al-Anon that your disease isn’t cured, it’s in the
other room doing push ups. The implication
is that someone who doesn’t address their
behavioural challenges will not only fail to get
better, but will get worse over time.
The early days of Trump's presidency show not
someone at the height of narcissistic control,
but someone on the perilous verge of collapse.
Comparing almost 40 years of Trump television
interviews is like watching a melting sulfurous
candle. In 1980, a 33-year-old Trump uses many
of the same rhetorical techniques he does today
but his conversational tone is steady, measured
and often thoughtful. Eight years later, Trump
talks to Oprah Winfrey about trade policy and
world powers like China. It’s closer to his
bombastic style of today, but he’s still offering
more nuanced takes, even praising Democrat
like Jesse Jackson. By the time we get to 2005’s
leaked Access Hollywood audio we’re in the
company of the 'unhinged' Trump. Even if you
don’t believe Trump committed actual acts of
sexual assault, he’s willing to boast about such
acts to seek the approval of someone else.
We can’t know if Trump considered getting help
after his brother’s death, but it’s statistically
unlikely. Al-Anon's membership is reportedly
85% female. That doesn’t mean men like Trump
wouldn’t be welcome there. In fact, if he was
serious about changing his behaviour, it might
be the perfect place for him to drastically
change his relationships with others, especially
women. “All the worst parts of his personality
would become assets if he worked on them,”
Jess A, an Al-Anon member, told me. “He’d fit
right in.” Calling Trump an untreated Al-Anon
isn't a joke meant to ridicule him. It’s a way
to understand his behaviours and how other
people, sometimes for good, but more often
not, continue to manipulate him.
It’s a way to move beyond the cries of racism,
sexism, or undiagnosed mental illness that
makes us feel better in the moment, but does
nothing to change our reality.
I’m not writing this to get Trump into treatment.
A cry for help for a man unwilling and incapable
of asking for help himself accomplishes nothing.
I wrote it because it helped me understand
where I believe he’s coming from, and maybe it
will help you, too. This isn’t for him, it’s for us.
If his presidency doesn’t end with impeachment
or resignation, it should start with an
Illustration on previous page by Emily Lin, this page from
The Boss Baby.
With acknowledgment to GoodHealth for original
publication of this article.
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May/June 2017 51