Trump, Tamasikate, NED and ADHD

My friend Ravikiran Rao has written a blogpost about how “Trump is Tamasik“. In this, he has used the Tamasik-Rajasik-Satvik framework from ancient India, modelled how most leaders are Rajasik, and how Trump is not, and is actually a Tamasik.

One of the hypotheses in the post is that a lot of commentators make the mistake of analysing Trump through a Rajasik lens (which they are used to since most other leaders are Rajasik), and so get him wrong.

The blogpost, like a lot of Ravi’s blogposts, triggered off a lot of thoughts in my head. My first reaction after starting to read was that “hey, can we compare Tamasikate to NED (noenthuda)”? The idea of Tamasik that I have is that it is about “doing nothing”. And “no enthu da” of course vocalises that philosophy – you don’t have enthu to do anything. And so Tamasikate is like NED.

That was the first thing where I found myself describing myself as a possible Tamasik.

And then Ravi goes on.

Trump, as I was saying, is Tamasik. He is driven by his impulses, and in his case, the impulses are all negative ones. Now, to be fair, all of us struggle with our impulses and emotional drives, but becoming a functional adult involves learning to rein them in, and converting them into higher order goals. We all have sexual desires, for example. The Rajasik nature involves sublimating them into a higher order emotion called love, and pursuit of love involves choosing one person and forgoing others; not giving into the impulse of going after every woman you find sexy. Trump has not made that transition at all. A Clinton may give into his impulse; Trump is his impulse.

I was thinking about the common theories about ADHD, which I’ve been diagnosed with. One theory is that ADHD leads to a “lack of executive functioning”. If we were to describe this using the Tamasik-Rajasic-Satvik framework, we can say that all of us have a “Tamasik base”, which is about our emotions, about our impulses and all that.

And then on top of the Tamasik base is a Rajasik “executive function”. It is this function that allows us to plan, think long-term, suppress our impulses when they are suboptimal, and do all the rest of things that society expects of functioning adults. However, the thing with ADHD is that this Rajasik executive function is impaired. So you are unable to plan well. You give in to your impulses. You frequently change plans. You are impulsive.

Sometimes I think that a lot of my theories are my attempts to rationalise myself and my own decisions. For example, after I first got diagnosed with ADHD in 2012, I realised that my seminal studs and fighters framework was an attempt to rationalise that.

Now Ravi’s post about Trump’s Tamasikate makes me think – I instinctively associate Tamasikate with NED. And your Tamasikate comes out in fuller light if your Rajasik executive function is impaired, which is what they say happens to someone who has ADHD.

So through this, is NED also a symptom of ADHD?

One thought on “Trump, Tamasikate, NED and ADHD”

  1. Both you and Ravikiran Rao are very smart about many things (your intelligence is particularly impressive in how wide-ranging it is).
    Yet everyone’s intelligence must inevitably be based on the information that we have in our minds, which in many cases will be information obtained via the ‘news media’.
    Not living in India, much of my information about India is obtained via the ‘news media’, and I have to vigilantly take care to take the biases of many media outlets into account. For example, the majority of Western media tend to project an image of Modi as an Indian version of a ‘white supremicist’ persecutor of minorities (the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’), and I have to take that into account when reading about Modi.
    While I have been impressed by many of Mr Rao’s posts, I think it worth pointing out that his writings about Trump seem to be discussing a media-generated caricature rather than the actual person.
    It is often difficult to filter out media bias, particularly with respect to situations in foreign countries that one may have little or no direct contact with, but I think Mr Rao should try a bit harder to filter it out.
    I would suggest that examining how Ronald Reagan was fiercely personally maligned by the media when he was in office would help gain some insights into the pattern of how the ‘mainstream’ media attacks US politicians who successfully express simple things that happen to be true but also happen to conflict with unrealistic leftist ideals. Both Reagan and Trump were attacked in similar ways, largely by suggesting that they were not intelligent because the simple truths they articulated were too simple.
    It is very unfortunate that Mr Rao spends such a considerable amount of intellectual effort on analyzing Trump’s media caricature, because if he were able to parse out a more-realistic conception of Trump, I am confident that he would be able to write some very interesting things about that conception. Using his excellent mind to analyze Trump’s caricature is akin to using an electron microscope to read a comic strip.

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