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Lorin R. Robinson: If it quacks like a duck it’s probably a quack

Lorin R. Robinson: If it quacks like a duck it’s probably a quack


Have you heard the one about the “psychologist” who wrote a book claiming Donald Trump is probably the “most sound-minded” president ever?

Punchline? There is none. This is not a joke.

In her recently released book, “Mad Politics,” Gina Loudon, who likes to refer to herself as Dr. Gina, claims she uses science, real data and true psychological theory to explain why it's possible the current POTUS is the most sound-minded person ever to occupy the White House.

Incidentally, it’s good she made it clear that the data is “real” and the psychology is “true” since one never knows these days.

Considering the several 18-wheelers’ worth of evidence to the contrary — not the least of which is Bob Woodward’s runaway best-seller “Fear” and the recent New York Times op-ed penned by an anonymous senior White House official — Dr. Gina makes quite a claim.

So, let’s start with a credentials check.

The Daily Beast recently reported that Loudon obtained her Ph.D. in “human and organizations systems” from Fielding Graduate University, an online school. In her Linkedin profile, on the other hand, she lists her Ph.D. from Fielding as being in “human development,” adding that she has certifications in “body language interpretation” and “hypnotherapy.”

So, claims to the contrary, she is not a psychologist.

By the way, Fielding Graduate University is unranked in U.S. News' list of best education schools, in which institutions are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

Actually, her “qualifications” probably relate more to her connections. Loudon describes herself as a member of the “Donald Trump for President Media Advisory Board” and as one of the founding writers at Brietbart, the ultra-right-wing news site once run by Steve Bannon.

In “Mad Politics,” Loudon makes several claims to support her contention that Trump is the “most sound-minded person” to be president. She gives credit to his upbringing, life experience, personality and birth order. Another claim involves the president’s supposed Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This methodology assigns letters to four human traits, resulting in 16 “personality types.” His, she claims, is ENTJ — Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment — a type often referred to as “The Commander.” 

Unfortunately for Dr. Gina, the MBTI, created in 1944, has never been well received by the psychiatric community, finding its niche, instead, in corporate human resource testing. It is said to exhibit significant scientific deficiencies, including poor validity — not measuring what it purports to measure and not having predictive power. Another is poor reliability — giving different results for the same person on different occasions. It is also criticized for not being comprehensive. Neuroticism, for example, is not considered.

Actually, what is instructive is to compare some of the negative characteristic traits of the ENTJ with those of a sociopath, using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.

Observed “bad” characteristics of the ENTJ:

• Can be self-centered, arrogant (they like themselves, sometimes too much).

• Can have trouble expressing affection.

• Can be opinionated or stubborn, believing they're always right.

• May set the bar too high (have unrealistic dreams and goals).

• Sometimes make decisions too fast.

• Are very critical about incompetency and inefficiency (but not their own).

• Don't give compliments easily.

Sociopathic characteristics:

• Glib and superficial charm.

• Grandiose, exaggerated estimation of self.

• Need for stimulation.

• Pathological lying.

• Cunning and manipulativeness.

• Lack of remorse or guilt.

• Shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness).

• Callousness and lack of empathy.

• Poor behavioral controls.

• Sexual promiscuity.

• Many short-term marital relationships.

• Lack of realistic long-term goals.

• Impulsivity.

• Irresponsibility.

• Failure to accept responsibility for own actions.

• Criminal versatility.

Do any of these traits sound familiar? Well, of course, you won’t see them as part of the “true” psychology in Dr. Gina’s book.

Nor will you read about the more than 70,000 members of the psychiatric community who, since April 2017, have signed a online petition calling Trump mentally ill. The petition was authored by psychiatrist Dr. John Gartner:

“We, the undersigned mental health professionals, believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.”

This petition came on the heels of a prescient online manifesto published in June 2016, prior to the Republican National Convention, in which psychologist William Dougherty stated:

“As psychotherapists practicing in the United States we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American Democracy itself. Making a distinction between the man, Donald Trump, and the anti-democratic ideology he represents (whether or not the term ‘fascism’ fully fits), Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism argues that the American republic faces a clear and present danger when the candidate of a major political party embraces an anti-democratic ideology.”

It was quickly signed by 4,000 psychiatric professionals. Interesting that by April 2017, after only a few months of experiencing Trump in the White House, 70,000 members of the psychiatric community signed the petition.

Now, it is possible that Dr. Gina’s advanced degree in “human and organizations systems” with certifications in “body language interpretation” and “hypnotherapy” give her special insights into the “soundness” of the president, insights not available to those 70,000 mental health professionals.

But pardon me if I have serious doubts.

Lorin R. Robinson, Ph.D., is a writer and former chair of the journalism department at UW-River Falls. His current book is "The 13: Ashi-niswi."

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