'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump': Did Fred Trump influence his son to become who he is today?

Dan Partland's 'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump' makes a brief mention of Fred Trump, who had a huge influence on the POTUS and his upbringing


                            'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump': Did Fred Trump influence his son to become who he is today?
Trump with his parents, Fred and Mary Anne (Dan Partland / Art Horan)

It is no secret that Donald Trump idolizes his father, Fred. Even 20 years after the real estate developer died, his son, now the President of the USA, still talks of him fondly and cites him as a positive influence in his life. The man that taught him everything he knew about the real-estate business and helped him kickstart his own career. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. Fred Trump was a fiercely ambitious man, who constantly pushed his son to emerge in every arena as a 'killer' and a 'king'. It may just so happen that he is the main reason behind who Donald Trump is today. 

'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump' is a documentary by Dan Partland that delves into Trump's behavior and psyche. It features a number of interviews with experts in the medical field who give significant insight into how the President's mind works. The film also makes a brief mention of Fred, who had a huge influence on Trump and his upbringing. Fred was the son of German immigrants, Frederick and Elizabeth, and ventured into real estate upon following his own father's footsteps. He made a fortune by building affordable houses for middle-income families along the US East Coast during and after World War II. Many of these projects were government subsidizes and in 1954, he appeared before the US Senate amid allegation that he had been profiteering from the contracts.

Donald Trump with his father, Fred Trump in 'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump' (Dan Partland, Art Horan)

He'd established a web of political connections with cash and used these relationships to access government programs that offered subsidized financing to developers. With the help of proficient lawyers, he had managed to manipulate taxpayers and wring out maximum profits from them. When the US Senate committee investigation found him guilty, he admitted to the manipulation and said he saw nothing wrong and had turned the blame upon the committee for alleging that he cheated and ruining his reputation. Trump was a workaholic through and through, the kind to work seven days a week and devote very little time to his family. His way of paying attention to them was to let them watch him at work.

But the true extent of his influence on his son, Donald Trump, is described in the book 'Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man', penned by the President's niece, Mary Trump, a psychologist and the daughter of his late older brother Fred Trump Jr. In the book, she hashes out all the details about the Trump family as being “dysfunctional.” It also reveals the true extent of Fred Trump's influence over his sons. Being the firstborn, Fred Trump Jr was set to take over the family business but instead chose to follow his passion of being a pilot, which raised the ire of his father.

'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump' (Dan Partland/ Art Horan)

“Fred wanted his oldest son to be a ‘killer’, in his parlance, and he was temperamentally the opposite of that,” Mary wrote in her book. “Freddy’s problem was his failure to be a different person entirely.” Freddy Trump had no passion for the real estate business, and his father only saw that as a 'betrayal' and would subject him to “constant barrage of abuse” through letters and phone calls, even calling him as a “bus driver in the sky”. His father's attitudes resonate even now in the president's idiosyncratic behavior, where he was led to believe that the world is divided into 'winners' and 'losers' and the refusal to apologize for anything, no matter how egregious. 

“Fred hated it when his oldest son screwed up or failed to intuit what was required of him, but he hated it even more when, after being taken to task, Freddy apologized. ‘Sorry, Dad,’ Fred would mock him,” Mary says. “Fred’s fundamental beliefs about how the world worked – in life, there can only be one winner and everybody else is a loser, and kindness is a weakness – were clear. Donald knew, because he had seen it with Freddy, that failure to comply with his father’s rules was punished by severe and often public humiliation, so he continued to adhere to them.” 

'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump' (Dan Partland, Art Horan)

“By limiting Donald’s access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it," Mary says in her book. Trump has a picture of his father in the Oval Office that appears in every office briefing over his left shoulder as if he is still exercising his influence over his son. 

'Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump' is now available on-demand.

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