Top Psychologists Compare Trump to Hitler and Mussolini in New Documentary
In the eye-opening documentary “#UNFIT,” premiering in virtual cinemas Aug. 28, psychologists and former allies of President Trump diagnose why he’s a danger to America.
Donald Trump’s psychosis is on full display for everyone to see, day in and day out, on TV and on Twitter. But for those interested in getting a fuller, damning portrait of his headspace—and who have already devoured his niece Mary Trump’s bestseller Too Much and Never Enough—#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump has arrived to further mark the current commander-in-chief as a madman ill-suited for public service. Premiering in virtual cinemas on Aug. 28 and on digital/streaming TVOD on Sept. 1, it’s a cogently argued and executed evisceration of a president who’s fundamentally—and dangerously—unworthy of the Oval Office.
Like anything said or written about Trump, Dan Partland’s documentary will be somewhat outdated by the time of its debut; there’s just no way for any film to be totally up-to-the-minute when America’s leader so habitually whips up fresh outrages, gaffes, and scandals. Nonetheless, if it’s missing Trump’s very latest blunders and criminal conduct—such as his neutering of the U.S. Postal Service, and admission that he’s done so to swing the election in his favor—#Unfit remains a valuable peek inside a thoroughly rotten mind up to and including March’s coronavirus outbreak. Guided by interviewees whose commentary is expertly complemented by supporting-evidence clips of Trump saying all sorts of tellingly horrible things, it details the various personality traits that drive his monstrous behavior, and sheds light on how his own failings spell potential doom for American democracy.
The Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway kicks things off by rhetorically asking, “What is wrong with him? Donald Trump is like a practical joke that got out of hand.” Unfortunately, #Unfit is no laughing matter. Director Partland begins his breakdown of the current president by turning to esteemed psychologists, including John Gartner, Lances Dodes, and Justin Frank, who diagnose Trump as a “malignant narcissist,” a classification that has four components: Narcissism, Paranoia, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Sadism. Trump’s exhibition of those qualities is thoroughly detailed in passages that make great use of his audio interviews, press conferences, rally speeches, and a 1993 Howard Stern interview in which he ranks celebrity females by their hotness, and semi-jokingly admits that he doesn’t treat women with respect.
“Trump is a sociopath. A sadist. A con artist. A racist. A misogynist. A sexist in general. And I think it is a problem,” says Frank, providing the most amusing understatement of this entire affair. Having initially probed Trump’s mind and found only arrogance, selfishness, greed, a hunger for power, and a total disinterest in his fellow man—or knowledge about the world, competing views, or any number of other subjects—#Unfit proceeds to expand its purview by explaining his corrosive tactics, such as gaslighting. Additional examples, such as a discussion about the Ash Experiment—in which lies told by the many convince the few to doubt the obvious facts they see—speak to Trump’s method of using deception to sow seeds of confusion and distrust.
A segment on Trump’s upbringing suggests that what he most learned from father Fred was to look down on those below him, and to vengefully crush anyone who might dare oppose him. As Gartner and his colleagues explain, the fact that an American president might have a mental disorder doesn’t, in and of itself, disqualify him or her from the job; Abraham Lincoln, Gartner surmises, might have been the ideal Civil War leader precisely because his depressive nature meant he was accustomed to shouldering great emotional pain. In the case of Trump, however, his deficiencies mark him as a sociopathic megalomaniac who only cares about himself—such that, as sportswriter Rick Reilly recounts, Trump actually rigs his personal golf cart to make it faster, all so he can speed to his ball ahead of his competitors in order to cheat.
While Trump might be a historically awful president, #Unfit doesn’t contend that he’s an altogether unique figure, since as Gartner says, he shares the same psychological profile, and characteristics, of autocrats like Mussolini and Hitler. Gartner’s claim that “they’re cut from the same cloth” is bolstered by other historians and mental health professionals who draw direct links between Trump’s MO and those of 1930s fascists who exploited and magnified existing economic fears, prejudices, and discontent to seize power and then systematically neuter institutions that might challenge him. #Unfit illustrates, clearly and concisely, that Trump is playing by the standard-issue authoritarian playbook, including by stoking ethno-nationalist movements and aligning himself with fellow despots such as Erdogan, Bolsonaro, and Putin.
In the interest of including a voice that isn’t 100 percent anti-Trump, #Unfit features input from Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s blink-and-you-missed-him communications director, who largely decries his former boss but nonetheless gives him credit for pinpointing and manipulating the grievances of certain white Americans (which is true) and for not being a racist but, instead, an “asshole” (which is, respectively, untrue and true). Bill Kristol, meanwhile, condemns Trump as unfit to serve due to his character and judgment, and Conway admits that he originally believed that Trump’s intolerant diatribes were merely a function of his narcissism (i.e. he uses hateful language against anyone who doesn’t view him as a deity), but was soon swayed by the sheer ugliness of his vitriol.
#Unfit confirms that Trump is a lot of reprehensible things, but chief among them is that he’s a threat to the democratic experiment that’s been conducted in this country for nearly two-and-a-half centuries. With this lethally-unhinged man’s vindictive temper, refusal to learn anything or take anyone’s counsel, and contempt for the people he serves and the governmental structures and principles designed to guide his actions (all while he has his finger on the nuclear trigger), he’s a national disaster waiting to happen. His catastrophic inability to respond to the pandemic in a successful—or humane—manner is thus only the greatest of his many failings, resulting in over 170,000 American deaths so far and untold damage to the American economy and social fabric. As Partland’s doc recognizes, he’s an individual doomed to wreak havoc by his inherent makeup.
Which is to say, give him a few more days, and he’ll do something else that’s unforgivably appalling.