What do 27 psychiatrists, psychologists & mental health experts know about Donald Trump that we don’t?
Not much. They just have the training, professional duty and guts to do something about it.
Three things you might not know
- A new, must-read book (guaranteed bestseller) will be released on Tuesday, October 3rd: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. It is the work of 27 esteemed psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts who have assessed President Donald Trump’s mental health in an attempt to answer the question that is on everyone’s mind, including most of his supporters: “What’s wrong with him?”
- “A duty to warn” is a duty within the field of psychology that states when treating someone who may be dangerous to him or herself or to others there is a duty to warn people who are in danger from that person. These professionals have considered it their “duty to warn the country about the danger of this president.”
- Although this book is an assessment by professionals, when it comes to Trump, most of us instinctively “get it,” get the depth of his innate flaws and the inherent danger. But it is enlightening to see it articulated so well and to better understand the reality of his reality – or lack thereof. And the best part is that it’s medical, not political. It makes sense. It’s frightening.
(7 minute read)
Bill Moyers is a great professional journalist and his interview of Robert Jay Lifton is the first must-read: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on ‘A Duty to Warn’. And after the interview, the book (available October 3rd), becomes a must-read. Moyers said of the book, “… is a withering exploration of Donald Trump’s mental state.”
In the interview Lifton said, “If we think we have learned something about Donald Trump and his psychology that is dangerous to the country, yes, we have an obligation to say so. That’s why Judith Herman and I wrote our letter to the New York Times (see below). We argue that Trump’s difficult relationship to reality and his inability to respond in an evenhanded way to a crisis renders him unfit to be president, and we asked our elected representative to take steps to remove him from the presidency.”
To the Editor [New York Times]:
Soon after the election, one of us raised concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness for office, based on the alarming symptoms of mental instability he had shown during his campaign. Since then, this concern has grown. Even within the space of a few weeks, the demands of the presidency have magnified his erratic patterns of behavior.
In particular, we are struck by his repeated failure to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and his outbursts of rage when his fantasies are contradicted. Without any demonstrable evidence, he repeatedly resorts to paranoid claims of conspiracy.
Most recently, in response to suggestions of contact between his campaign and agents of the Russian government, he has issued tirades against the press as an “enemy of the people” and accusations without proof that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, engaged in partisan surveillance against him.
We are in no way offering a psychiatric diagnosis, which would be unwise to attempt from a distance. Nevertheless, as psychiatrists we feel obliged to express our alarm. We fear that when faced with a crisis, President Trump will lack the judgment to respond rationally.
The military powers entrusted to him endanger us all. We urge our elected representatives to take the necessary steps to protect us from this dangerous president.
JUDITH L. HERMAN
ROBERT JAY LIFTON, NEW YORK
Dr. Herman is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lifton is a lecturer in psychiatry at Columbia University and professor emeritus at CUNY.
Donald won’t read this book – but you should. And every sycophant living in Trump’s world
Anyone who gives a damn about what happens to America should read this book. And if your life, business, family or friends are in any way affected by what happens in – or to – the United States (that’s all of America and most of Canada too), you will want to read it.
This is not an ad hominem attack on the President, it’s an assessment, not unlike what is done in the corporate world when people apply for a job, particularly at high level positions. Unfortunately, this assessment is done in hindsight and just might be too late.
Obviously, when dealing with critical issues, it’s imperative to know the capability of the person making the decisions, especially when it’s on behalf of not only the sixty million people who elected him (25% of the electorate) but the few billion human beings who are vulnerable to the vagaries and vicissitudes of the President’s mental state.
I often cite Dr. Elliott Jaques when it comes to leadership – his research and work is preeminent – and more than twenty-years before Trump occupied the Oval Office, he published findings in his book, Human Capability, that allowed any reader of his book to measure a leader’s mental capability by observation of his public thought processes. Jaques asked the straightforward question below.
“Is it too much to require a certain minimum level of potential mental capability of a US president? It should be equal, a least, to a CEO of a large corporation with a minimum time horizon of twenty-years.” – Elliott Jaques, Human Capability (1994).
And yet, here we are, twenty-plus years later, well aware of the flaws in the broken political system (see earlier blog: The hypocrisy of democracy is the elephant in the room) and yet, we continue to allow someone of Donald Trump’s tortured childhood and adolescent existence convince sixty million people that “only he can fix the problem.” Make no mistake, we have allowed it by letting the myth called democracy continue to decline while our apathy, disengagement and ignorance have aided and abetted a mentally limited person to invade the most powerful position in the system.
This book and the insight of 27 eminent intellectuals can help offset the ignorance factor if we read the book. But they can’t do anything about our apathy and disengagement. That’s on us, the majority of whom act more like the walking dead than the intellectually enlightened. We’re stuck in our own short-term needs and short-attention spans, superficially pushing through a digitally-driven world immersed in incessant emails, texts, posts and yammering cable television and talk radio. Our fading holy grail – whatever it might be – runneth over with endless information, big data, shallow thoughts, vacuous opinions, ranting idiocy and little to no deep contemplation.
“Sociopathy itself is a sign of a very sick individual, someone with a lying, cheating and emotional disorder. The intersection of those two occurs in sociopathy. It is not just bad behavior that people have to lie and cheat the way he does, it is an incapacity to treat other people as full human beings. That is why his focus is on humiliating others to aggrandize himself, as he did in the Republican primaries when he was debating and calling people names … This is a very, very serious mental and emotional problem.” – Lance Dodes
America, Canada and the world, if you aren’t frightened, you should be
Harvard psychiatrists, Lance Dodes (retired), one of the 27 contributors to the book, laid out in an interview with Salon some of the considerations that all of us should take into account. I’ve included a few of his observations in the list below. If this doesn’t alert you to the frightening reality of Trump then … perhaps when you get past your ideological myopia or Trump jumps on his own version of Germany’s 1933 Reichstag fire (“fire and fury like the world has never seen”) you might think beyond poltics to the fundamentals of human behavior. As Dodes said, “First of all, the greatest risk to us right now is that there will be another ‘Reichstag fire’ type event.” Reichstag was Hitler’s excuse, some say even a false flag.
“Lying and cheating and humiliating others and grinding them into dust in order to triumph is not just bad behavior. It is a serious mental illness.” – Lance Dodes.
Dodes stated that the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), diagnose conditions on two bases: one, behavior and two, speech.” He claims, “… anybody, trained or not, can observe speech and behavior. It is good to be a professional in the field because then you can take the next step with confidence and say, ‘People with this kind of speech and behavior have this kind of problem.’ So anybody can look at Donald Trump and [with] the thousands of hours of interviews and evidence that we have about him, and see whether he either meets this criteria [for antisocial personality and sociopathy] for speech and behavior or he does not. The fact is, he does.” This aligns with Elliott Jaques’s findings in Human Capability (Jaques too was a Harvard Ph.D). Here are a few excerpts from the interview with Dodes:
- The evidence suggesting that Donald Trump may have serious mental health problems is overwhelming.
- He [Trump] needs to believe it. He is able to give up reality in exchange for his wished-for belief. Sometimes we call that a delusion. But Trump has a fluid sense of reality, which is a sign of a very sick individual.
- Trump is a very primitive man. He is also a man who has a fundamental, deep psychological defect. It is expressed in his inability to empathize with others and his lack of genuine loyalty to anyone. You will notice that Trump wants everyone to be loyal to him, but he is loyal to nobody.
- He is extremely paranoid, and it edges into delusion.
- When he says, “I had the largest crowd at an inauguration in history,” it does not matter that you can tell him that it is not true, he still insists on it. Well, that is very troublesome because what it means is that he needs to believe it. He is able to give up reality in exchange for his wished-for belief.
- If you understand the man, you understand what you are dealing with, and I don’t think he is at all different from tyrants in the past. [Hitler, Mussolini]. I don’t know that he is any different from the people he admires [e.g., Putin, Duterte].
- The best diagnosis for Trump is that he is a malignant narcissist.
- The more desperate Trump becomes, the more he needs to have a crisis so the country will rally around him. If I had to pinpoint it, I would say he is going to start bombing North Korea.
It’s human behavior, stupid
A deep understanding of human behavior is at the root of any valid understanding of why anyone does anything, and that understanding is the foundation of why Donald Trump does what he does, and doesn’t do what is needed. And why he may well do the unthinkable.
Maybe this book, in the process of shedding some light on Trump’s darkness, will also jolt a few principled leaders to do what must be done in a most “dangerous case,” one that warrants “a duty to warn.” The question is: Will a handful of politicians and/or wealthy Americans be forewarned and take the action required to protect us from the highly-probable meltdown of Donald Trump? Anybody? Nobody?
The book is available on Tuesday, October 3rd, so there’s probably time for you and a few million others to read it before Trump bombs North Korea. In which case, at least some of us will better understand why he did it. And hopefully, a few who have the power and position to protect us, will be enlightened enough to take action. Or, as is too often typical of self-centered human behavior, they will be silent witnesses to a lights-out travesty perpetrated on the democratic experiment by a “malignant narcissist.”