Could I have been dogmatically wrong about Florida Man?

I have a different take on Trump’s behavior: Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which begins in childhood, explains most of his deviancy. The distinct feature of this disorder is the refusal to follow any directions requested by anyone. Those with ODD see an order or request as someone trying to control them, and it feels like life or death.

I have a nephew who manifested this condition as a child — and now, at 55 years old, he hasn’t changed a whit. If you ask him a simple thing like to pick a piece of paper off the floor, he would refuse. He would not outright refuse, but he would avoid doing it and just ignore the request. God forbid you asked him why; he would say you were a controlling person and sulk off. He has been divorced twice because his behavior drove the women crazy.

Trump could not draw his sword at military school, and he cannot return the boxes, because to be controlled feels like life or death in his psyche. It really is a mental disorder — but that excuses nothing, especially in a president.

A reader responding to Andrew Sullivan.

June 23, 2023

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