because the kid in him is overwhelmed, scared to death and cannot survive knowing he will be seen as a “loser”

(Donald Trump photo courtesy New York Times)

Four must read articles

Here are a few quotes taken from from four articles written between March 2016 and May 16, 2017, which will tell you all you need to know about Donald Trump:

  1. “Beneath his bluff exterior, I always sensed a hurt, incredibly vulnerable little boy who just wanted to be loved.” – Tony Schwartz (ghostwriter, The Art of the Deal)Washington Post, May 16, 2017.[1]
  2. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.” – Donald Trump, .[2]
  3. “I put lipstick on a pig.” – Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, July 25, 2016.[3] (must read article!).
  4. “It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a ‘catastrophe.’” – LA Times, six part series.[4]
  5. “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.” – Edward Kosner, former editor/publisher, New York.[5]
  6. “My father is a wonderful man, but he is also very much a business guy and strong and tough as hell.” As Trump saw it, his older brother, Fred Jr., who became an alcoholic and died at age 42, was overwhelmed by his father. Or as I euphemized it in the book: “There were inevitably confrontations between the two of them. In most cases, Freddy came out on the short end.” – The Art of the Deal.[6]

(6 minute read)

“Trump describes his father as having been born in New Jersey to Swedish parents; in fact, he was born in the Bronx to German parents.” – Jane Mayer, The New Yorker.

Explaining Donald Trump may not be simple but it is straightforward and I have selected four articles and referenced several books that capture the essence of Donald Trump. There are more, although not enough have been written about the reality of Trump’s psychosis and arrested development, which is the root-cause of most of what he does and who he is. Forget all the debate and diatribe on television and the stream of nothingness on the Internet, these four articles are a great start in setting out a good understanding of the man. They undress the emperor so any fifth grader can see that he has no clothes. They provide a historic and human record, and much needed insight, into the man who has become president, and sits within arms length of the nuclear codes.

I suggest starting with this week’s Washington Post Op-Ed by Tony Schwartz, which then leads to the other stories. In short order, it captures the essence of Trump and the deeply troubling dilemma for America – and the world. Schwartz, the ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, says publicly what millions talk about privately. He  spent more time with Trump than almost anyone outside Trump’s family and the inside story is frightening. After his op-ed piece, read Jane Mayer’s 7,000 word essay in The New Yorker. It’s one of the best stories you will read on how Schwartz, and others, got to see the real Donald, in real-time.

“In neurochemical terms, when he feels threatened or thwarted, Trump moves into a fight-or-flight state. His amygdala is triggered, his hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activates, and his prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that makes us capable of rationality and reflection — shuts down. He reacts rather than reflects, and damn the consequences. This is what makes his access to the nuclear codes so dangerous and frightening.” – Tony Schwartz, Washington Post op-ed.

Schwartz was on CNN this week and after he shared his experiences about what he describes, accurately, as a sociopathic Trump, fellow-guest, Alan Dershowitz, downplayed Schwartz’s assessment. Come on Alan. You’re smarter than that. Geez, get off your legal high horse and study the roots of human behavior. Just talk to a few of your Harvard colleagues who know a thing-or-two about the human condition and you’ll see Trump’s behavior is textbook psychosis – ask your Harvard alums E.O. Wilson, Frank Sulloway and Steven Pinker.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Show me a screwed up kid and I’ll show you screwed up parents.

Donald is a classic case of arrested development, particularly in his early childhood. It is the fundamental reason he is the way he is and why he is not fit to be President of the United States. If you really want to go beyond tiresome, political ideology and understand the problem, then understand his history, his family, his domineering father and the real estate business bubble and inherited fortune, which are the extent of his life’s experience.

These four articles, plus the books I reference, are a good starting point that proceeds along a line of discovery in psychology, human development and the flaws of the human condition. It’s reality. And refreshingly more insightful than the incessant merry-go-round of empty ideological babble. It’s time to stop arguing and anguishing over Trump’s symptoms and delve into understanding the underlying disease.

Like millions of other Americans, we clung to a slim hope that the new president would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of office. – Los Angeles Times.

Selection of highlights

  • “Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.” – Tony Schwartz.
  • “I put lipstick on a pig, I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is … I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” – Tony Schwartz.
  • “In addition to his lack of impulse control, Donald has long exhibited a child’s inability to accept responsibility. This trait is familiar to those have seen Trump in action over the years.” –, “President Trump: A 6-year old with nuclear weapons?” by , author of The Truth About Trump.
  • “Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement – Jane Mayer, The New Yorker.
  • He [Schwartz] regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said. – Jane Mayer.
  • “He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.” Since most people are “constrained by the truth,” Trump’s indifference to it “gave him a strange advantage.” – Tony Schwartz.
  • Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.” – Tony Schwartz
  • One strategy was to make it appear that Trump was just having fun at the office. “I try not to take any of what’s happened too seriously,” Trump says in the book. “The real excitement is playing the game.” – Jane Mayer.
  • “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.” Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, “I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.” – Tony Schwartz.
  • [He has] an insatiable hunger for “money, praise, and celebrity.” – Jane Mayer.
  • Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, “He’s a living black hole!”- Jane Mayer.
  • Trump is “draining” and “deadening.” Schwartz told me that Trump’s need for attention is “completely compulsive,” and that his bid for the Presidency is part of a continuum.” – Jane Mayer.
  • “The notion that he’s a self-made man is a joke. But I guess they couldn’t call the book ‘The Art of My Father’s Deals.’” – Wayne Barrett author of Trump: The Deals and the Downfall and Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.
  • [Back then] “He was on a total run of complete and utter self-absorption … It’s kind of like now.” – Wayne Barrett.
  • In 1992, the journalist David Cay Johnston published a book about casinos, Temples of Chance, and cited a net-worth statement from 1990 that assessed Trump’s personal wealth. It showed that Trump owed nearly three hundred million dollars more to his creditors than his assets were worth. The next year, his company was forced into bankruptcy—the first of six such instances. The Trump meteor had crashed. – Jane Mayer.
  • Also read David Cay Johnston’s latest book, The Making of Donald Trump (highlights in earlier blog, Read this book before November 8th).
  • There’s a straight line from the book to the show to the 2016 campaign.” –  Timothy L. O’Brien, author of  Trump Nation (2005).
  • In my [Mayer] phone interview with Trump, he initially said of Schwartz, “Tony was very good. He was the co-author.” But he dismissed Schwartz’s account of the writing process. “He didn’t write the book,” Trump told me. “I wrote the book. I wrote the book. It was my book. And it was a No. 1 best-seller, and one of the best-selling business books of all time. Some say it was the best-selling business book ever.” (It is not.) Howard Kaminsky, the former Random House head, laughed and said, “Trump didn’t write a postcard for us!”
  • “People are dispensable and disposable in Trump’s world. If Trump is elected President, he warned, “the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he couldn’t care less about them.” – Tony Schwartz.

illustration by Javier Jaén (courtesy The New Yorker)

Get to know the man

For the rest of the story, read these four perspicacious articles – and the books by David Cay Johnston, Warren Barrett and Timothy O’Brien.

I have ghostwritten nine books and I understand how close one must work with the author in order to write the story. Outside the Trump family, and perhaps a few people, Tony Schwartz probably gleaned the most intimate understanding of this flawed leader. In fact, as Schwartz has stated, it is glaringly false to call him a leader and what he and the other writers have learned and written puts the reality in stark perspective.

What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.

To know him is to understand him. And while you’re exploring Trump’s reality, cross your fingers and hope – and be careful what you hope for.


  1. I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past, by Tony Schwartz Washington Post, May 16, 2017.
  2. President Trump: A 6-year-old with nuclear weapons? by
  3. Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, July 25, 2016.
  4. Our Dishonest President, Los Angeles Times (six part series), April 2, 2017.
  5. Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, July 25, 2016.
  6. I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past, by Tony Schwartz Washington Post, May 16, 2017.