Too Much and Never Enough: An Explanation of the Donald We Know and (Don’t) Love
Updated: Sep 23
It’s clear from the very first page of Mary Trump’s 2020 memoir Too Much And Never Enough that Donald Trump’s father is the book’s antagonist. He is to blame for the “monstrosity” that Donald J. Trump has become, and this book is the true story of the “epic tragedy of parental failure” of Fred Trump.
Dr. Mary Trump, Donald Trump’s niece, is a clinical psychologist who, in her words, “can no longer continue to keep quiet” about her uncle’s “pathologies” which are “complex” and his “behaviors… inexplicable” to the point where she is concerned for the lives of the American people. She states that “if he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American democracy.” Upon reading the previous remarks in the book’s foreword, I wondered why Dr. Trump didn’t publish her book sooner.
The reason is simple-- she didn’t want to be painted as a disgruntled member of the President’s extended family simply looking for a payout
Payout or not, her book sheds some light on the character Donald Trump and how he came to form his personality and identity around warped notions of weakness and strength, inherited from his nefarious father.
A very entertaining and enlightening read, this book reads somewhat chronologically, beginning with Fred Trump’s father’s death of Spanish flu, the birth of the Trump business empire when Fred was just 15 (with his mother as his business partner), and Fred Trump’s eventual marriage to a young Mary Anne MacLeod, fresh off the boat from Scotland. She describes the “entirely conventional life” that Fred and Mary built for each other, with “strictly drawn roles for husband and wife.” She also describes the attributes that she believes make Fred a “high functioning sociopath”: a “lack of empathy, facility for lying, an indifference to right and wrong, abusive behavior, and a lack of interest in the rights of others” and qualifies these assertions with anecdotes gathered from family lore and testimony.
These traits, combined with a “propensity for showmanship” and exaggeration, as well as a “childhood marked by scarcity if not outright deprivation,” made Fred into a formidable and “autocrat[ic]” father figure that shaped the man that now runs our country. All of the Trump children were taught from a young age to never ask for anything, lest they expose themselves as weak and unworthy of Fred’s love and approval. To get ahead in Donald Trump’s world, someone else must fall behind.
Dr. Trump writes that “Donald requires division” in order to flourish-- “it is the only way he knows how to survive.”
As a child, Donald grew up watching his older, more sensitive brother (Dr. Trump’s father, Freddy) get verbally abused and outright bullied by their father. Dr. Trump claims that this was the beginning of the tough, swaggering personality Donald would develop in an attempt to be the polar opposite of Freddy and gain his father’s approval.
After a stint in military school due to his (reportedly) uncontrollable, malicious, and manipulative behavior, Donald Trump went off to college and set off on a path to become his father’s new right-hand man. Fred Trump Sr. eventually complied and shifted the role of heir apparent away from his namesake, making sure Freddy Trump Jr. was thoroughly beaten down and humiliated in the process. Freddy’s multiple career switches and bids for his father’s approval all ultimately failed, leading him down a path of alcoholism that would lead to his eventual divorce, illness, and death.
And what did Donald learn from this? Ms. Trump writes that the takedown of Freddy was a victory well won in Donald’s eyes, and that the shift of his father’s favor from Freddy to Donald cemented the sociopathic and narcissistic traits in the egomaniac that we know today. His “inability” to take responsibility or acknowledge threats makes good leadership -- even adequate leadership -- “impossible.” Not only did Fred’s neglect and “toxic positivity” create an ideal of the “killer” mentality in Donald’s mind, but it destroyed his capability to discern right and wrong. According to Dr. Trump, Donald Trump has no attachment to a higher purpose or moral goal. She points out that even if he wanted to, he could never be the “hero” America needs and wants.
Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man, by Mary Trump