Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Imagine how it looks through the eyes of Donald Trump

What do you think it's like inside the head of Donald Trump these days?


Put another way, imagine a megalomaniac, someone fully invested in the image of himself as the greatest thing ever put on the planet. For years he has sold himself as the world's smartest, strongest, toughest and most virile, and what may have begun as effective showmanship has over time become how he honestly sees himself. Fake it 'til you become it, so to speak, and he's become it.

Imagine further that at some point, the megalomania becomes so pronounced that our subject decides to, say, run for president of the freaking United States of America, having never run for public office before.

All the experts make fun of him; of course they do, he's a joke, a caricature! Yet a mere six months after announcing his candidacy, without benefit of campaign ads or handlers or speechwriters, he is by far the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, thousands of adoring fans show up everywhere he goes, those who once publicly sneered at him are begging for his favor and the entire political universe seems to be bending to his will.

Just as he knew it would.

I wonder: What would that kind of validation do to a man already convinced of his own grandeur? What happens to a person who keeps breaking all the rules and keeps being rewarded for it? How would he perceive the next set of rules that he runs up against? I don't mean those as idle questions.

As a simple matter of physiology, what happens to any human brain that is bathed in that much dopamine, day after day after day? Like repeated, ever-increasing doses of cocaine, it would have to rearrange the neural networks and produce a physical addiction, would it not?

Would such a person still be capable of heeding that little voice whispering in Caesar's ear, reminding him that he is a mere mortal? What would he do -- or more crucially NOT do -- to keep the dopamine flowing? And when it stops -- not if it stops, but when -- how does that narrative arc play out?

As we all know, these are not new issues for presidents, athletes, movie stars and business moguls. Massive egos come with the territory in most cases, and maintaining a sense of balance is often difficult. Some handle it better than others. But from the outside at least, what's been going on in the inner world of Donald Trump for the last six months seems to dwarf even the experience of the Cam Newtons or Steve Jobs of the world.

Because of course it would.  He's the Donald.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.