Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L Trump

‘Much of this book comes from my own memory.’

As the USA heads towards the 2020 presidential election, during the global Covid-19 pandemic, I feel compelled to read about Donald Trump.  Why?  Because he will probably be re-elected, and I am still trying to make sense of who he is.  I have given up trying to understand what he might stand for.

In this book, Mary Trump draws on both her qualification as a trained clinical psychologist and her firsthand knowledge of the Trump family history and dynamics to try to explain the factors that have shaped Donald Trump’s character. The major influence seems to have been his relationship with his father Fred Trump, who seems to have played his two oldest sons, Fred Jr (Mary’s father) and Donald one against the other.  But there were other factors as well, including his mother’s serious illness when he was a young child.

Mary Trump writes:

‘Donald today is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning, or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information.’

I still  wonder to what extent this could be considered a consequence of nature, or of nurture?

I kept reading, wondering about the relevance of some disclosures, but seeing how the Trump family (through a combination of neglect and control) have created a man with little insight or apparent self-control.  This would matter less if Donald Trump was not president, or if he was willing to appoint effective advisers and take their advice.  But the danger, as Mary Trump writes, is that:

‘There seems to be an endless number of people willing to join the claque that protects Donald from his own inadequacies while perpetuating his unfounded belief in himself.’

There are no words of comfort in this book, no sense that there are hitherto unseen thoughtful depths to Donald Trump.  While this book goes some way to explaining the factors that influenced the child and shaped the man, it leaves me afraid for the future of a country (and the world) in which such a man has such control.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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