David Grace responded to one of my posts about Therapy Bots with this question:
I had no idea the tech was so advanced. But here’s the Big Question, the Acid Test — Can the latest and greatest Freud-O-Bot successfully treat Donald Trump’s problems? Can it do that? Can it? If not, then we still have a long way to go.
My first reaction was to think about how difficult it would be just to get Trump to consider discussing anything with a therapist of any kind. Part of the reason I feel that Trump is so frightening is that he thinks he knows the answer before he knows the question. Almost all of his responses are attacks. He takes no blame or responsibility for anything. In his mind, he has never done anything wrong. Also, he never seems to “think slowly.” He just reacts, defensively, emotionally and aggressively.
But then I realized that as President he will be constantly criticized, and he will realize that he does not have the love and admiration that he so desires. He won with a minority, and he is quickly losing many of them, He will lose more as his lack of knowledge, experience, bad judgement and temperament become more obvious. He is finding that his “attack Tweets” only bring him more ridicule. This will bother him. At that point he may be open to some professional help.
As a Psychologist, I cannot ethically diagnose anyone whom I have not personally evaluated, and I have never met with Mr. Trump. If I did, I could not, and would not, discuss my findings in public. So this comes with a clear disclaimer :all I have to go on is how he acts on TV, in his rallies, what I have read, and his Tweets. The following is all just speculation:
Mr. Trump shows tendencies of having a narcissistic personality disorder. He also exhibits symptoms of ADHD. Several of my colleagues think he suffers with a bipolar disorder. He also seems prone to paranoid thinking and is easily drawn into conspiracy theories. Of course, when you are obnoxious, aggressive, and sue hundreds of people, it is likely that many people will turn against you.
I have treated several people with similar personalities and temperaments. Some of them were also very successful in business, as they also had a lot of energy, a desire to win at all costs, and were unconcerned about the damage they do to others. These people were some of the most difficult people to treat, especially when, like Mr. Trump, they were surrounded with many sycophantic lackeys.
Part of the difficulty is that people like this, when asked to explain their feelings, motivations, reasoning or actions, respond as if they are being attacked. They get hurt, which quickly turns to anger. Even the slightest whiff of criticism provokes a powerful defensive response. They quickly manufacture lies in their own defense, which they just as quickly believe. Yet, their need to be appreciated and admired is so strong that they never go away. They keep coming back, trying to convince their therapist of their perfection. The thought that they are not only unloved, but disrespected by someone who knows them well, is very disturbing to them..
However, these people can treated be successfully. Their therapist has to be able to hang in there long enough to prove to the patient that he/she will not abandon them, even when they show that they are vulnerable and insecure. That is a very difficult task, for both the therapist and the patient. I suspect it would be for Mr. Trump’s therapist, especially since some of his delusions of grandeur have been confirmed.
That is why, after some reflection, and in response to David Grace’s question, I think that a therapy-bot would have a much better chance of success than any live, actual person, no matter how skilled a clinician the live person may be.
When Lee Sedol, the world champion GO player, lost 4 out of 5 matches to the Google A.I. machine Alpha Go, he explained that he wins most of his matches like a poker player. He figures out the psyche of his opponent and he wears him down, or he intimidates them. Once they feel they are falling behind they can never recover. He could not do that against the A.I. bot. The bot didn’t get tired. It didn’t get flustered. It just kept improving it’s algorithm.
Any live therapist would have an emotional reaction to Trump; probably a mixture of astonishment, frustration and disgust. It’s unavoidable. A bot is immune to that. IF, and this is a big IF, Trump would stay in treatment with a bot for a year, it would be fascinating to see the results. The machine would be able to consistently point out his inconsistencies, his fantasies, his lack of reality testing, his bad judgement, his insincerity, and his insecurity. The bot would be connected to a Watson type computer and could immediately refute his lies and distortions, using real facts, without any partisan influences. It could read all of Plato, Jesus, Maimonides and others in under ten seconds, and point out unethical and immoral behavior. It could explain “conflict of interest” at a third grade level, so Mr. Trump could understand.
The machine doesn’t have any need to liked. The machine can’t be bullied. The machine won’t get furious and walk away. It would just keep learning more and more about how Trump operates, and it would do a better job of zeroing in on his flaws; questioning and sympathizing, as only a bot can.
I think there could be a good chance he would remain in therapy with the bot if it were shaped like a young woman with long legs, long hair, large seductive eyes and big breasts. He would continually try to win her (its) approval, and admiration. He would have to learn to live with the limitations — no sex with your therapist, even with a bot.
Given the skill level of Artificial Intelligence programmers today, I think such a bot could be created in a few months down at our local state.technical school (MIT). As soon as I hear from Kellyanne that she can get Trump to participate I’ll call Joichi Ito at the Media Lab and get the project started. I wonder if this kind of service will be covered by the new Republican, Unaffordable Care Act.
I think it’s worth a try. I hope Kellyanne is reading this.
N.B.: This is mostly (not completely) written in jest. However, having Donald Trump take over the office of President of the United States is not a joke. Even if you drank the Koll-aide and think he was a marvelous choice, it is becoming more apparent that he does not have the knowledge, temperament or experience for the job. He is impulsive, secretive, and seems to lack any consistent moral or ethical standards. Two of his appointees have already recused themselves due to plagiarism and corruption. We are facing a very dangerous situation. Pay Attention!