The "Too Much and Never Enough" author breaks down how she believes years of "child abuse" at the hands of Fred Trump Sr. helped created a leader both "heartless" and lacking in empathy.
Fresh off a court victory that allows her to talk about her incendiary book "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," Mary Trump made her first late-night appearance with Stephen Colbert to try and understand why Donald Trump is the way he is.
"I think fear is the most powerful factor that runs throughout the family," she told Stephen, referring not only to how Donald has wielded it as a weapon throughout his career, but also how it was used when his father, Fred Sr., was raising him and Mary's father, Fred Jr.
Calling her grandfather a "high-functioning sociopath," Mary said that she also believes Trump shows tendencies of at least one of those things.
"Clearly he’s comfortable doing heartless things," she said of the president. "Clearly he doesn’t seem to be interested in empathy, so I think it’s safe to say he demonstrates sociopathic tendencies."
But she also said that he has "so many pathologies," that it's impossible to really diagnose what's going on without extensive testing, and that would require the president admitting to what he would perceive as weakness.
"I think at this point in his life it would be impossible for Donald to admit to any kind of weakness or incapacity that needs to be addressed," she said. "He also unfortunately seems to be surrounded by people who are perfectly happy having him behave the way he behaves now, for whatever their agendas may be. They’re not that interested in making Donald a better person."
When Stephen asked if there was anything that could be done to give him solace, as he seems to be always seeking validation and he never seems satisfied, Mary said, "It’s an awful answer, and I hate saying it, but I think the answer is no."
By way of explanation, she added, "It’s extremely difficult to help somebody who’s not aware he needs help."
As for the other half, Mary argues that the president "is not high-functioning at all, and that’s something that should give every person in this country pause."
She argued that while her father showed traits such as compassion, love and outside interests beyond money, which her grandfather neither understood nor approved, Donald had the advantage of being younger and learning how to please his father.
"Donald realized from a fairly young age that the only way to succeed where my father failed was to be the kind of person my grandfather needed him to be," she said. "You know the killer, the tough guy, somebody who could never admit weakness or could never admit being wrong.
"Donald learned a lesson that if you want to survive and succeed in this family, you shouldn’t be kind, you shouldn’t be generous and you shouldn’t care about anything else and you certainly shouldn’t be interested in whether or not people love you," she said.
As such, she believes we are left with a president "who just needs to have the things he has to believe about himself -- he’s the greatest, the best -- repeated or told [to] him by somebody else in order to make him malleable," which is a huge danger for America considering his position.
Along with that comes all the self-congratulations and speaking exclusively about his achievements in superlatives (best, greatest, favorite, smartest, biggest, et al), as we've seen in recent weeks as he has resurfaced his performance on a cognitive test.
In interviews, Donald has even gone from getting a perfect score to earning extra points for parroting a series of words back in order, according to his most recent interviews. All of this self-aggrandizing despite interviewers saying this is a pretty basic test.
When asked about the test itself, Mary, who is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in childhood trauma, described it as "a test to screen for early signs of dementia."
"We don’t know how he did on it, but as far as I’m concerned, his talking about it the way he’s talking about it is failing the test," she argued. This statement could be taken two ways. She could be suggesting that he's simply boasting too much about it, so it must be a lie.
Or, as Stephen theorized, "Bragging about passing a cognitive test is one of the ways you fail a cognitive test."