Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
After announcing his 2024 presidential run in November, former President Donald Trump is once again in the spotlight.
In advance of that much-anticipated announcement, popular clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson weighed in on Trump’s personality and the issue of a third presidential campaign while talking to Piers Morgan on “Piers Morgan Uncensored.”
In the midst of a broader discussion about the use of social media and its effect on the current society, Morgan eventually asked Peterson about his thoughts on Trump.
“Donald Trump: What is he? Is he a narcissist, a sociopath, a psychopath? All of those things? None of them?” Morgan asked.
Peterson answered that Trump does not seem to be a psychopath.
In fact, even more broadly, it’s very rare to find a psychopath, because about 97 percent of people are not psychopathic, Peterson pointed out earlier in their discussion.
Politics and public positions do tend to draw a “disproportionate number of Machiavellians and psychopaths,” due to the status of that kind of work, Peterson also noted, but Trump does not seem to be one of those.
“I don’t think that he’s a psychopath, because he’s been successful in repeated enterprises over long periods of time, and he has a variety of people who remain intensely loyal to him,” Peterson said.
Regarding psychopathy in general, Peterson pointed out that usually, psychopaths are not able to flourish very well, since they are exploitative.
“In the normal world, psychopaths exploit and they get a reputation for doing so quite quickly. And then people avoid them and stop working with them,” Peterson pointed out.
When it comes to Trump more particularly, it doesn’t seem to be an issue of psychopathy, as it is a matter of many disagreeing with Trump (Peterson did point out that Trump seems to have a somewhat “disagreeable” nature) and then villainizing him.
“It’s very easy to demonize someone that you don’t approve of. … And certainly, Trump has been subjected, I would say, to more demonization than any political leader in the West that I can remember in my entire lifetime, including Richard Nixon. And so that’s also set him back on his heels and made him somewhat embattled and defensive, which I don’t think did any great things for his personality in some real sense,” Peterson added.
Morgan then went on to ask Peterson more specifically about Trump running again.
“Would you like [Trump] to run again? Would it be good for America, do you think?” Morgan asked.
“That’s a difficult question, because it might be that it would be good for America to have ‘whether or not Donald Trump should be president’ sorted out in the public sphere, debated intensely, and subject to an election,” Peterson said. “So it might be very interesting to see him put himself forward on the Republican ticket.”
Peterson did note that “if I had my druthers,” he would rather see someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis come forward as a candidate.
Peterson said that it would probably be better to have someone who is a less divisive public figure and a bit more cautious in the public policy arena.
Regardless of any personal feelings toward Trump (which everyone seems to have), there is simple, common-sense wisdom in what Peterson pointed out.
Even if Trump has great policies and could do great things for the country, the fact that he is a divisive figure cannot be ruled out of the bigger-picture effects on the nation.
There is real value in having a leader who simply incites less violent animosity.
There is also value in a leader who simply moves forward despite the animosity, as Trump seemed to do.
But both kinds of leaders have their place and time. They are not suited to all places and times.
That doesn’t mean that Trump is wrong to launch another campaign. But there has to be a real understanding of both the pros and cons of his persona, and that has to be accordingly weighed in voters’ consciences.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.