What explains Donald Trump and his supporters? ... Begin with Donald. ... A clue is that Trump’s parents sent him away from home to a military school at age 13. Trump said, “In the second grade, I actually gave a teacher a black eye — I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled.” Trump added, “I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way. The difference now is that I use my brain instead of my fists.”
This outrageous behavior and his trivializing view of it — spinning a violent act into an expression of self-assertion — is one of many clues that Trump fits the mold of a sociopath-like person. This estimation is borne out by his well-known behavior during adulthood — in effect robbing lenders and contractors via bankruptcy, verbally trashing whoever opposes him, and proposing totalitarian measures. How can one possibly understand this kind of person, an antisocial type whose defining characteristic is that he just doesn’t care about anyone?
A clue that he is understandable is this remarkable statement: “I wound people to unwound myself.” He directly implies that his wild behavior is best explained by his vulnerability to hostility, not by his gross character flaws. This keyhole view into his psyche suggests an empathic explanation that includes grossly damaging treatment during childhood.
Likewise, his supporters may be best understood as fighting back against humiliating attacks. ...
Hillary Clinton and her supporters trash Trump for being a hater, more or less crazy, a small-time robber baron, and worse. In short, the left trashes the right for trashing people.
Here’s a related take on this irony: The left holds back from trashing poor people who, say, steal cars. The left is empathic toward badly behaved poor individuals, thinking of them as troubled people acting out the humiliation of poverty. But the left has no sense that Trump and his supporters also are acting out humiliation.
Nearly everyone on the left and on the right are steeped in the prevailing morality’s instruction to shame people who behave badly. The left’s intolerance of intolerance is one side of what seems a dangerous vicious cycle of hostility that pits nearly half of America against the other half.