The Emotional Maturity Test: Donald Trump v Banjo, Our Neighbour’s Dog


Is Donald Trump more or less emotionally mature than Banjo, the neighbour’s dog? Dr Stephen Scher, Senior Editor of the Harvard Review, might be onto something.

Our next-door neighbour has a three-year-old border collie with blonde fur, very roughly the same colour as Donald Trump’s, only it actually came that way.

But a similar hair color is where the similarity ends.

Banjo, for example, respects the law. He knows that he’s not permitted to come inside our house. He tried once, was gently scolded, and now stays outside no matter how much he wants to come in.

The above example is instructive. It demonstrates the following:

  1. Banjo listens.
  2. Banjo learns from experience, and learns quickly.
  3. Banjo actually remembers what he has learned.
  4. Banjo is capable of self-control.

Banjo has a mature understanding and acceptance of what can be changed and what can’t. He never whines about what he can’t have, and he never pesters or intrudes in an effort to get his own way.

Banjo does not bite.

Banjo does not get into fights and conflicts. It is not that he is conflict averse. He simply treats other creatures, canine or human, with respect.

By the same token, Banjo is not a racist. In his treatment of dogs and humans, he makes no distinctions between colors, sizes, national origins, or beliefs.

Banjo uses harsh words — barks, for him — only when necessary, as in the case where he scared away burglars when he was alone in the house.

Banjo takes good care of himself. He eats only good food (no McDonalds), sleeps regular hours, and gets plenty of exercise.

Banjo is receptive of the care and support he receives. He patiently accepts the daily grooming required by his long coat, and he repays the attention with constant affection and a playfulness that lifts the spirit.

Banjo has an attention span of at least 40 minutes. Just last night, and for that long, he was raptly engaged in a game (with my wife) where he dropped a ball (from his mouth) and then raced against my wife to see whether he could pick it up again before she could kick it away.

Now, if a dog has that sort of attention span and capacity to focus intensely on a single activity, and if that’s about the same as for a school-age child, one can only imagine, but not know, what has happened to a grown man that has left him incapable of concentrating on anything of any substance, but only on cable TV, for more than a minute.

Trump vs. Banjo? No contest.

Stephen Scher earned his PhD, specializing in moral, legal, and political philosophy, from Brown University and his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also has master’s degrees from Harvard University and Yale Law School. He taught clinical medical ethics in Harvard Medical School–affiliated hospitals in the 1980s, spent several years at Yale Law School and Yale School of Management (teaching professional ethics and organizational behavior) in the 1990s, and joined the editorial staff of the American Journal of International Law in 1999 and the editorial staff of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry in 2003. At the end of 2016, he stepped down as Senior Editor of the American Journal. He is now in his fifteenth year as Senior Editor of the Harvard Review. He has edited two books on professional ethics (one of which, Whistleblowing in Biomedical Research, was published in 1982 by the original US President’s Commission on medical ethics) and written articles ranging over health care politics and policy, bioethics, mediation, dispute resolution, and (on the scientific side) conversion disorders and attachment. He is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is a dual Australian-US citizen who has been living in Australia since 2007.