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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump by 27 Shrinks

I've been waiting for this book—the words of highly trained mental health professionals who are brave enough to risk backlash from their own associations by putting the safety of all people ahead of their rules to say nothing about individuals they have not treated. In a meticulously written foreword, one of the authors makes the case that "duty to warn" people whose well-being is in danger trumps the "Goldwater Rule" about silence. (There is an entire section of chapters on the ethics of speaking out—far too much to reduce into a review byte.) We are all in danger from this individual we have installed in the highest office in the land, and I consider the 27 authors of this step-by-step analysis of Trump's severe psychological impairments to be whistle blowers.

But what are the political affiliations of the contributors and are they biased? This is immediately addressed: it doesn't matter. The content is pedagogy not politics: the nature of psychological disorders. They are described in all their variations; they are all recognizable as played out by this president—the proofs are provided; and their dire results are delineated, well researched, and broad. And the final chapter regarding recommended immediate action to assess presidential fitness now and in the future—grounded in Section Four of the Twenty-fifth Amendment issues of "a written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office"—are required to be nonpartisan in nature.

Personality Disorders

Extreme Present Hedonism—impulsiveness of thought and therefore action with no awareness of consequences; propensity to dehumanize others in order to feel superior.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder—superiority, exaggeration of talents, emotional, dramatic, lacking compassion and empathy (inability to recognize other people's feelings), low self-esteem.

Bully Personality—physical, verbal, prejudicial, relational, cyber, sexual.

Possibility of a neurological disorder—based on delineated observations.

In discussions about the spectrum of the foregoing characteristics, as well as "malignant narcissism," delusional ideation, functional impairment, and many other mental health categories, foremost is the topic of danger. And many of the contributors are specialists in the study of violence and danger and professionally assess whether a person is a danger to themselves or others. Over and over they conclude that even if they are not willing to diagnose a mental illness in somebody they have never treated, they can diagnose clear and imminent danger!

They repeatedly warn about Trump's instability spiraling into psychosis and resulting in the destruction of democracy and a nuclear war.

Says John D. Garner, PhD, in his chapter "Donald Trump is: a) Bad; b); Mad; c) All of the Above": Trump "evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader. . . . our job is . . . to warn the public that the election of Donald Trump is a true emergency, and that the consequences most likely will be catastrophic."

Says Henry J. Friedman, MD, in the chapter "On Seeing What You See and Saying What You Know: A Psychiatrist's Responsibility": "When as a psychiatrist, I watch commentators and reporters struggling to understand or explain President Trump's latest irrational position . . . I wish that I could help them understand his paranoid character and why there should be no surprise that Trump behaves this way. They should be prepared to witness many more situations in which Trump feels betrayed and turns on those who have previously served him. Paranoids are always finding betrayal in those surrounding them, and react with retaliatory anger—Hitler and Stalin, by murdering their newly minted enemies; and Trump, by firing them. Psychiatric knowledge and terminology will save reporters and the public from remaining confused and attempting to find explanations of behavior that could easily be understood if Trump's paranoid character were always kept in mind. This is the only way to ensure the preservation and viability of our democracy and our national security."

In addition to this kind of material, there is a treasure trove of other psychological stuff: discussion of character traits that we can identify with in moderation and what happens when they become pathological; talk about new areas of therapy opened up by Trump events; repeated discussion of the "Trump Effect" and "Trump anxiety disorder," a specific kind of new anxiety and trauma or reactivation of old trauma due to the culture of Trump and what we can do about it, and an incredible chapter about what Trump tells us about our cultural Self—all informative articles that make this book a page-turner; and for many of us, long-awaited good medicine and, in turn, a call to action to speak out with whatever we have to offer.

I'd wager that anybody growing up in an abusive and abused family has wished there were somebody big to protect them. And perhaps when they've become adults and looked back at their situation, they've been appalled that it could have been as apparent as it was and nobody stepped in. Where were the authorities? How could a community have ignored something so obvious?

We are now that abused family, and I'm grateful that the authorities have finally bucked their own fear of rocking the boat or breaking the rules enough to sound the call, to offer their good medicine. I only hope we will all listen and be as alarmed and therefore as active as they are.


Some thoughts on what to do now:

At the same time that it alarms you, reading this book may also calm you down if you are upset about Trump. How? It will validate your feelings and let you know that "this is a real thing"—the opposite of Trump's habit of "gaslighting" (claiming that lies are truth and there is something wrong with anybody who does not see it his way). Once you have calmed a little, you may start to see Trump for what he is—a seriously disturbed individual who does indeed pose a danger to all of us. However, he is only one piece of an orchestrated puzzle designed to destroy our union. If you can see that Trump is a mere player in a much larger societal upset, if you can accept what author Thomas Singer, MD, in his chapter "Trump and the American Collective Psyche," says about what Trump tells us about the state of our collective Self and you can participate ". . . in a deep resurgence of activism to reclaim our most cherished and threatened American values" and "resist our tendency to cocoon ourselves in a self-righteous, arrogant bubble of narcissistic ideals, even in the name of being 'progressive,'" here is a blog that attempts to help with that larger picture, We Are Being Manipulated into Oblivion—See the Big Picture.

And here is useful counsel for our deportment, from Deterrent or Defense by Basil Liddell Hart, used by JFK in his considerations about the Cuban Missile Crisis, as quoted in the chapter "The Loneliness of Fateful Decisions" by Edwin B. Fisher, PhD:
"Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent and always assist him to save his face. Put yourself in his shoes—so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil—nothing is so self-blinding."

How to do that? Follow cognitive scientist George Lakoff's advice in his book Don't Think of an Elephant:
Show respect.
Respond by reframing.
Think and talk on the level of values.
Say what you believe.


10/15/17 Update

Duty to Warn video, deals with Goldwater Rule.

1/17/18 Update
In light of the recent conclusions from Trump's physician, I think the following two items are important.

From New York Times, editorial about fitness to serve from a U.S. Air Force psychiatrist.

From a contributor to The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

"Just a note regarding the White House doctor's use of the MoCA [Montreal Cognitive Assessment] to access the cognitive health of the nation's 'leader.' This is not a test that would diagnose the non-biological mental health issues he has. It is used to measure the progression and severity of cognitive impairment, as with Dementia."

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