Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Forget About Trump's Mental Illness, He's Causing The Whole Country To Have A Breakdown


Do anxiety levels seem higher among the people you interact with since Trump managed to win the White House? I don' feel more anxious or tense at all, but nearly all of my friends appear to be, particularly my women friends, but men as well. Some literally seem on the verge of nervous breakdowns. And the whole nation-- or at least the part of it that I'm in touch with-- seems obsessed with Trump. It's not just the God damn media; even in restaurants everyone seems to be talking about him and, at least in the restaurants I go to, not in a very celebratory manner.

Even before the his electoral victory, there was quite a few people writing about Trump's impact on the national psyche. Writing for Politico in early October, Gail Sheehy, wrote that America's therapists were worried about Trump's effect on people's mental health, primarily because his campaign was "sowing fear, distress and anger." She wrote how Clinton brought up Trump's effect on American's mental health in a debate that month, pointing to a "Trump effect, an uptick in bullying and distress that teachers are noticing in classrooms as their students are exposed to a candidate who regularly attacks his opponents in bombastic, even threatening terms. The new revelation of Trump’s crude boasts in 2005 about being able to kiss and grope women and 'move on' a married woman 'like a bitch' gave new fuel to the charge that his candidacy might be normalizing aggressive, disparaging talk and behavior." And thousands of therapists say that was more than just a political attack and that they were worrying that it’s something more-- and had been saying so for months.
Over the summer, some 3,000 therapists signed a self-described manifesto declaring Trump’s proclivity for scapegoating, intolerance and blatant sexism a “threat to the well-being of the people we care for” and urging others in the profession to speak out against him. Written and circulated online by University of Minnesota psychologist William J. Doherty, the manifesto enumerated a variety of effects therapists report seeing in their patients: that Trump’s combative and chaotic campaign has stoked feelings of anxiety, fear, shame and helplessness, especially in women, gay people, minority groups and nonwhite immigrants, who feel not just alienated but personally targeted by the candidate’s message.

The manifesto also made a subtler point: that all the attention heaped on Trump is actually making it harder for therapists to do their jobs. Trump’s campaign is legitimizing, even celebrating, a set of personal behaviors that psychotherapists work to reverse every day in their offices: “The tendency to blame ‘others’ in our lives for our personal fears and insecurities, and then battle these ‘others,’ instead of taking the healthier, more difficult path, of self-awareness and self-responsibility,” as Doherty wrote. Trump also “normalizes a kind of hyper-masculinity that is antithetical to the healthy relationships that psychotherapy helps people achieve.” Not to mention that his comments in the 2005 tape, Doherty says, are consistent with the behavior of a “sexual predator.”

...It isn’t enough to defeat Trump the candidate, some signers of Doherty’s manifesto say, and that’s not really the point. They believe they have to fight Trumpism—the emotional pain they say he has already caused. “There is a real and present danger for a national mental health crisis,” Doherty says. “And regardless of the outcome of the election, it will continue to need our attention.”
One survey on behalf of the American Psychological Association, found that 52% of Americans said that the election was their biggest stress trigger and that the outcome of the election would impact their amount of stress directly. And, yes-- as we have suspected-- his win has caused a surge in demand for mental health services, services he quickly moved to defund with Trumpcare and his draconian budget. Many crisis hotlines experienced an increase in calls, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Trevor Project’s suicide hotline for gay youth. Maria Oquendo, president of the American Psychiatric Association, said the organization has also noticed a surge in demand, stretching thin the country’s already-strained mental health resources. "There have been a number of groups targeted in the campaign," she said. "For those groups it’s very frightening to know they are being targeted not just verbally but in other ways-- they are fearing for their livelihood and safety."

After Trump somehow defied the odds and logic and managed-- via the electoral college-- to claim the presidency after losing the vote by almost 3,000,000 people, anecdotal reports of national mental health problems started circulating widely. In early January, the San Jose Mercury News reported that mental health of young Californians had been particularly effected.
Around the country, children and adolescents who are undocumented immigrants or who have undocumented family members, are experiencing a surge in stress, depression and anxiety, according to advocates, educators and mental health providers. The same is true for young people belonging to other groups targeted by threats or hate crimes, including Muslim and transgender youth.

Reports of these mental health concerns remain mostly anecdotal so far. And Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, says it would be too soon to try to quantify the impact of the election on people’s mental health. But he believes the election was “uniquely scarring.” Specifically, he says, members of groups that have been targeted by hateful rhetoric are now uncertain whom they can trust. He lists, among others, Muslims, Jews, Latinos, African-Americans and women and victims of sexual assault.

During his campaign, Donald Trump announced plans to create a Muslim registry and to immediately deport as many as 3 million people upon taking office. A tape recording of his remarks about grabbing women by their genitals was widely reported.

In November, the FBI reported that hate crimes had increased 6 percent in 2015-- during the runup to the presidential election-- compared with the previous year.

In recent weeks, civil rights groups and journalism organizations in California and around the country have reported threatening incidents apparently linked to campaign themes. Among the reports: a Redding high school student who handed out fake “deportation” notices to fellow students, and teachers in Los Angeles and San Jose who told their students that they or their parents would be deported.

Imelda Padilla-Frausto, a mental health researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said studies show that discrimination leads to increased mental disorders. Young children often absorb stress and become depressed, she said; adolescents-- especially boys-- are more likely to act out or abuse drugs or alcohol.

In January, as Trump's anti-healthcare-- and anti-mental healthcare-- visions started coming into focus, The Nation ran a piece by Michelle Chen about a possible coming mental health crisis, especially if Trumpcare is enacted. She wrote that "while the health care–reform debate raged over the last eight years, a quiet progressive victory made lives better for millions of people with surprisingly little controversy-- the simple idea that mental health should be taken as seriously as physical health. That’s because a broad coalition of advocates ensured that the Affordable Care Act included the concept of “mental health parity”-- meaning insurance providers must provide equality in services for mental- and physical-health care. But now the Trump administration threatens to just as stealthily unravel the modest gains in mental-health equity by shredding the ACA, sinking those millions deeper into silent despair. The ACA required both private insurance and state-subsidized Medicaid plans to offer mental health and substance-abuse treatment as an essential benefit-- a core safeguard for parity." Ryan, Pence, Mulvaney and Price have as little interest in that than the do in anything that protects the lives Sandwell being of ordinary people. Mental health is out now.

"In policy debates," she wrote, "mental-health issues have historically been neglected, stigmatized, or criminalized. But today the crisis is bleeding into public life through our politics, as revealed in the despair many voiced during the campaign season about families suffering depression and communities ravaged by heroin addiction. The atmosphere of anxiety was exacerbated by Trump’s own bloviating aggression and bigotry. For millions struggling to heal not only sick bodies but also shattered minds, a depressing political climate is about to trigger a nationwide breakdown."

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At 11:36 AM, Blogger Daro said...

I think the nation needs to breathe into a paper bag for a few moments. We can panic when he opens a craps table in the West Wing.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is mental illness... and then there's simple narcissistic personality disorder.

Whether he's truly psychotic or not is arguable. But his narcissism cannot be questioned. That he's, shall we say charitably, mercurial is also not arguable. That he's amoral is also not arguable.

But is any or all of that enough to get HIS tribe to either invoke the 25th or file articles of impeachment?

No. not a chance in the fresh hell we're all trapped in.

He could order a us city to be nuked and the R/Nazi congress would refuse to remove him. He's their chance to finally kill up to 100 million minorities, poor, elderly, sick and infirm; to rake in 100s of billions more in tax cuts; to finally destroy all leverage left among labor; to destroy liberalism forever; to make war at a whim; to make the us an evangelical Christian caliphate; to change each and every star on the flag into a swastika... and whatever else REALLY awful shit they want.

once tyrannical power is achieved... they'll never let it go. It must be taken from them. And yeah I know what that means.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Alice said...

nutrition for the Trump years, seriously

At 4:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an unwitting admission by mental health professionals that their 'job' fails to adequately deal with external conditions (real, plausible, threats and materially adverse events).

In fact, their entire purpose is to sow a false notion that the individual is responsible for outcomes despite the presence and action of other, more powerful agents.

The problem is Trump, the threats he emboldens, and the policies he pursues, allowing for example family wrecking deportation, environmental destruction, financial fraud, etc.
The problem is not, as the shrinks would have you believe, that people are upset about these things.


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