Understanding Duterte: What a psych report says

Aaron Lozada, ABS-CBN News

"Tough-talking" may be the most-used description for Davao city mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, but it seems that his attitude and personality are caused by a psychological condition, according to court records.

Details on how Duterte thinks were made public after a report prepared by a psychologist was entered into as evidence in the annulment proceedings initiated by his former wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.

A report prepared by Dr. Natividad Dayan, former president of the International Council of Psychologists, concluded that Duterte was suffering from "Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” a condition characterized by "gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness," "grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors" and "pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings."

Zimmerman filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage in 1998 before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, alleging Duterte’s psychological incapacity.

Zimmerman, who was married to Duterte since 1973, had been residing in Pasay City at that time after their marriage turned sour 10 years prior.


Duterte and Zimmerman separated in July 1998. However, their marriage turned for the worse 10 years prior and they started sleeping on separate beds as a result.

"Miserable and unhappy," that was how Zimmerman described her marriage with Duterte when she took the stand, under oath and in open court.

As narrated in a decision penned by Judge Pablo M. Roxas, which granted Zimmerman's petition for nullity of marriage, Zimmerman said that her marriage with the presidential aspirant was marred with the latter’s womanizing and volatile temper.

According to official court documents, Zimmerman testified that sometime after the birth of their second child, Sara, in 1978, a woman, who introduced herself as Duterte's mistress, confronted her to inform her of her husband's illicit liaisons.

During a confrontation with Duterte, the latter acknowledged the affair and said that it was only a scheme to get back at him since his affair with said woman had gone sour.

Zimmerman testified that Duterte's womanizing continued as he had several affairs with other women while he was a prosecutor. According to Zimmerman, Duterte's womanizing worsened when he became an OIC-vice mayor of Davao City, with the politician flaunting his other women and introducing them to his friends as "Mrs. Duterte."

When confronted again about his womanizing, Duterte told Zimmerman, based on court records, “Leave me alone. I know what I am doing."


Dayan said in her psychological report that Zimmerman suffered a “Partner Relational Problem” caused by "severe stress during her marriage to Rodrigo," and that she will continue to suffer if she remained married to her husband.

The psychological assessment concluded that Duterte was "psychologically incapacitated to handle essential marital obligations." Moreover, Duterte's antisocial narcissistic personality disorder was found to have existed prior to his marriage to Zimmerman.

A clinical examination conducted on Duterte confirmed that he was suffering from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Among the features of said personality disorder are "inability for loyalty and commitment, gross indifference to others' needs and feelings, heightened by lack of capacity for remorse and guilt."

For years, Duterte had been criticized for his alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings in Davao City–and his apparent lack of remorse for it.

In more than one instance, Duterte admitted, perhaps in jest, to killing scores of individuals allegedly involved in criminal activities before they received their day in court.

The mayor previously admitted his links to the Davao Death Squad, which is allegedly responsible for summary executions of criminals in the city. He also warned he will kill up to 100,000 criminals if he is elected president.

In a television interview, Duterte was unapologetic about his actions and even dared the group to file a case against him in court.

"Ako, ako daw death squad? True, that's true," Duterte said on air.

He also said that instead of 1,000 dead criminals, the number might rise to 50,000 dead if he is elected president.

"Pag naging presidente ako, magtago na kayo. Yung 1,000 na ‘yan it would reach 50,000. I will kill all you [expletive] breaking the life of the Filipino miserable. Papatayin ko talaga kayo."

(READ: Kill the criminals! Duterte's vote-winning vow in Philippines)

"Manalo ako kasi because of breakdown of law and order. I do not want to commit a crime but if by chance, God will place me there, magbantay kayo. Yung 1,000, magiging 100,000. Dyan mo makita tataba yung isda sa Manila Bay. Dyan ko kayo itapon," Duterte said.


Results of Dayan's examination of Duterte showed that the mayor is likely to be "a highly impulsive individual who has difficulty controlling his urges and emotions. He is unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions."

Several groups have also hit Duterte for his womanizing and alleged demeaning treatment of women.

(READ: Gabriela clarifies: We are against womanizing)

In one of his campaign sorties, Duterte was caught on video kissing a number of female supporters on the lips.

Several women who Duterte forcibly kissed on the lips tried to avoid the presidential aspirant's actions, a seen on the video.

In Pampanga, one woman tried to avoid Duterte's kiss. But the Davao City mayor held her by the face and kissed her on the lips.

(WATCH: Duterte greets women with 'kissing spree')

The assessment further showed that Duterte can be easily upset when his needs and desires were not met.

"Immediate gratification of his [Duterte's] needs and desires is always expected; any delay can upset him a great deal," the assessment said.

The psychological assessment also found Duterte capable of destructive behavior and has poor capacity for objective judgment.

"Such lack of self-discipline often leads him to engage in unhealthy or destructive behaviors. However, he is not apt to see his behaviors as such, and instead sees these as merely exciting and challenging," the assessment found.

“As it is, he has poor capacity for objective judgment. He fails to see things in the light of facts, or at least from the point of view of most people. He interprets his actions solely from his own viewpoint, which is blemished by his personal needs, biases and prejudices,” it continued.

Duterte also tends to rationalize and justify his wrongdoings, according to the psychological assessment.

“For all his wrongdoings, he tends to rationalize and feel justified. Hence, he seldom feels a sense of guilt or remorse.”

Just days ago, Duterte had been the subject of reports from local and international media after he made a joke about an Australian missionary who was murdered and gang-raped in Davao City.

In a campaign rally on April 12 in Quezon City, the tough-talking mayor described the missionary as very beautiful and likened her to an American actress.

"T***a, sayang ito. Ang napasok sa isip ko, ni-rape nila. Pinagpilahan nila. Nagalit ako kasi ni-rape. Oo, isa rin yun. Napakaganda. Dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna," he said, drawing laughter from his supporters.

Several groups and individuals blasted Duterte for his lack of remorse to apologize after uttering the vile remarks. 

One group went on to say that Duterte’s remark normalizes rape culture.

"For us who have been working on the issue of sexual violence, including rape, for decades, it really pushes back what we have been doing for a long time—that is, educating the public on the problem with rape, the problem of normalizing it, the problem of creating a rape culture which downplays the harms that rape does to women," said Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific

(READ: Duterte rape remark 'normalizes' rape culture: rights group)


Without contesting the psychological assessment, incumbent Davao City Vice Mayor Sara Duterte defended her father, saying that nowhere in the court documents does it say that Duterte is not fit to lead.

"It doesn't really reflect kung ano siya as a public servant, kung ano siya as a politician, kung ano siya as a government official. Iyun iyung mga private na mga nangyari sa buhay nilang mag-asawa,” Sara said.

“[Ang] Final decision ng korte is 14, 15 years ago so ang tagal na non. Wala nang bad blood between my father and mother," she continued.

Sara, who is running for the mayoralty post to be vacated by his father, was brought to national attention when she was caught on video punching a court sheriff.

Sara, who was then serving as Davao City mayor, with her father as vice mayor, repeatedly punched the sheriff of the Davao Regional Trial Court, Abe Andres during a demolition.

In a twist of events, the sheriff apologized to Sara after being at the receiving end of the latter’s punches. - with ANC; Henry Omaga Diaz and David Dizon, ABS-CBN News