Friday, September 29, 2017

It's Friday... Let's Talk About Trump's Unfitness, His Mental Unfitness


According the the new Quinnipiac poll, 56% of American voters feel that the orange-hued baboon Putin helped install in the White House is unfit to serve as president. Somehow, 42% of voters actually say he is fit. I suppose they're either not paying attention... or the KKK and Nazi movements in America are way bigger than I thought. The implication in the way the polling questions were asked might lead you to assume people feel Trump is unfit is because 62% of voters think Trump is handling race relations badly and because 59% of voters find him dishonest and because 60% of voters feels he has crappy leadership skills and because 56% of voters know he doesn't give a damn about ordinary Americans and because 67% say he's not level-headed or maybe because 60% of voters say he's handled healthcare badly. Most Americans also find him a divisive, rather than unifying, figure.

But I want to propose as the reason most Americans say Trump is unfit to be president is because he's mentally unfit for the job. No one has polled that yet. But the evidence is overwhelming. Before we get into it, though, let's look at a few paragraphs from an essay that Jack Shafer wrote for Politico Thursday. He asserted that the ease of tweeting "explains why Trump, whose attention deficit disorder is the stuff of legend, has thrived in the form. Twitter’s minimalism lends itself to the president’s rabbit-punch speaking style-- an admixture of accusation, pronouncement and grievance in small, repetitive patterns. The medium allows a user almost unlimited license to shift gears, throw the thing in reverse and take the argument off-road without missing a beat. Your next thought need not bear any kinship with the previous one. If Twitter was a football play, it would be a scrambling quarterback.
As Jeet Heer recently wrote in the New Republic, Trump is our post-literate president, incapable of following a complex argument in a talk or in a text. He prefers “big pictures” and “killer graphics” to white paper briefings, or simpler still, Fox & Friends broadcasts. Like haiku or the bumper sticker, 140-character Twitter requires only a smidgen of time and a millijoule of mental energy to compose. It’s easy to imagine the glee on Trump’s face as he writes a tweet or reads a favorable one, and easier still to imagine why once he starts tweeting he can’t seem to stop.
Now, to the mental illness. On Thursday morning, Newsweek published a series of short essays about Trump's mental instability, excerpts from a new book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Professionals Assess a President. The first was written by Dr. Lance Dodes, a training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society. He concludes that , "While there have surely been American presidents who could be said to be narcissistic, none have shown sociopathic qualities to the degree seen in Trump. Correspondingly, none have been so definitively and so obviously dangerous. Democracy requires respect and protection for multiple points of view, concepts that are incompatible with sociopathy. The need to be seen as superior and a lack of empathy or remorse for harming other people are in fact the signature characteristics of tyrants, who seek the control and destruction of all who oppose them, as well as loyalty to themselves instead of the country they lead. The paranoia of severe sociopathy creates a profound risk of war, since heads of other nations will inevitably disagree with or challenge the sociopathic leader, who will experience the disagreement as a personal attack, leading to rage reactions and impulsive action to destroy this “enemy.” Trump’s sociopathic characteristics are undeniable and create a profound danger for America."

Gail Sheehy, an author and lecturer, isn't a psychiatric professional but her insights into Trump are invaluable. "The fundamental bedrock of human development," she wrote, "is the formation of a capacity to trust, absorbed by children between birth and 18 months. Donald Trump has boasted of his total lack of trust: 'People are too trusting. I’m a very untrusting guy.' 'Hire the best people and don’t trust them.' 'The world is a vicious and brutal place. Even your friends are out to get you. They want your job, your money, your wife.' His biographers have recorded his worldview as saturated with a sense of danger and his need to project total toughness. As we know, his father trained him to be a 'killer,' the only alternative to being a 'loser.' Trump has never forgotten the primary lesson he learned from his father and at the military school to which he was sent to be toughened up further. In Trump’s words, 'Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.'" You can probably guess exactly where Sheehy is going with this line of thinking.
As president, Trump is systematically shredding trust in the institutions he now commands. In the nearly two years that Trump has been in our face almost daily, he has sown mistrust in all his Republican rivals, alienated much of the conservative Republican bloc he needs in the House for legislative success, ignored congressional Democrats and viciously insulted Democratic leaders, calling them liars, clowns, stupid and incompetent, and condemning former President Barack Obama as “sick” and Hillary Clinton as “the devil.” Having discredited the entire 17-agency intelligence community as acting like Nazis, he also dismissed the judiciary because of one judge’s Hispanic background and another’s opposition to his travel [née Muslim] ban. Even his Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, said it was “disheartening” and “demoralizing” to hear Trump disparage the judiciary. Not content to smear the media on a daily basis, Trump borrowed a phrase used by Lenin and Stalin to brand the American media as an “enemy of the people.”

The nonmedical definition of paranoia is the tendency toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others. By his own words, Trump operates on the assumption that everyone is out to get him.

We hear repeatedly that Trump as a manager likes chaos. I asked a deputy White House counsel under Obama, a decorated former officer in Iraq and former White House counsel to Obama, how such a management style impacts trust. “Trump explicitly or implicitly manages the situation so it’s never possible for his advisers to know where they stand,” he said. “It’s the opposite of what you want in a high-functioning organization.”

To the dismay of even conservative observers, Trump appears totally indifferent to the truth. Time gave Trump an opportunity to clarify his refusal to correct his long string of falsehoods. What the interview produced instead was an astonishing revelation of his thinking: He states what he wants to be true. If his statement is proved false, he is unfazed and confidently predicts that the facts will catch up with his belief: “I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.”

Beneath the grandiose behavior of every narcissist lies the pit of fragile self-esteem. What if, deep down, the person whom Trump trusts least is himself? The humiliation of being widely exposed as a “loser,” unable to bully through the actions he promised during the campaign, could drive him to prove he is, after all, a “killer.”
Philip Zimbardo, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, is best known for his landmark Stanford prison study and he sees Trump embodying a specific personality type: "an unbridled, or extreme, present hedonist. As the words suggest, present hedonists live in the moment, without much thought of any consequences of their actions or of the future. An extreme present hedonist will say whatever it takes to pump up his ego and to assuage his inherent low self-esteem, without any thought for past reality or for the potentially devastating future outcomes. Our assertion that Trump is among the most extreme present hedonists we have ever witnessed comes from the plethora of written and recorded material on him."
In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud introduced narcissism as part of his psychoanalytic theory. Throughout the ensuing decades, it was refined and sometimes referred to as megalomania or severe egocentrism. By 1968, the condition had evolved into the diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic people are out of balance in that they think very highly of themselves while simultaneously thinking very lowly of all those whom they consider their inferiors, which is almost everybody. Narcissists are emotional, dramatic and can lack compassion and empathy.

What lies underneath this personality type is often very low self-esteem. Narcissists can’t handle criticism of any kind, and will belittle others or become enraged or condescending to make themselves feel better when they perceive they are being criticized. It’s not unusual for a narcissistic personality to be blind to his behavior because it doesn’t fit his view of his perfect and dominant self.

Research indicates that some bullies may suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, while others may have difficulty interpreting or judging social situations and other people’s actions-- they interpret hostility from others when none was meant. For example, a person unintentionally bumps into a bully, who views this accident as an act of aggression; he therefore overreacts, which triggers the bully response of seeking revenge. Bullies have often been abused or are driven by their insecurities. They typically want to control and manipulate others to feel superior.

In Trump, we have a frightening Venn diagram consisting of three circles: The first is extreme present hedonism; the second, narcissism; and the third, bullying behavior. These three circles overlap in the middle to create an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of tyrant, complete with family members sitting at his proverbial “ruling table.”

In presenting our case that Trump is mentally unfit to be president of the United States, we would be remiss if we did not consider one more factor: the possibility of a neurological disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which the president’s father, Fred Trump, suffered from. Again, we are not trying to speculate diagnoses from afar, but comparing video interviews of Trump from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s to current video, we find that the differences (significant reduction in the use of essential words; an increase in the use of adjectives such as very, huge and tremendous; and incomplete, run-on sentences that don’t make sense and that could indicate a loss of train of thought or memory) are conspicuously apparent.

Whether Trump suffers from a neurological disorder-- or narcissistic personality disorder, or any other mental health issue, for that matter-- will, undeniably, remain conjecture unless he submits to tests, which is highly unlikely given his personality. However, the lack of such tests cannot erase the well-documented behaviors he has displayed for decades and the dangers they pose. When an individual is psychologically unbalanced, everything can teeter and fall apart if change does not occur. We believe that Trump is the most dangerous man in the world, a powerful leader of a powerful nation who can order missiles fired at another nation because of his (or a family member’s) personal distress at seeing sad scenes of people having been gassed to death.

We are gravely concerned about Trump’s abrupt, capricious 180-degree shifts and how these displays of instability have the potential to be unconscionably dangerous. Corporations and companies vet their prospective employees. This vetting process frequently includes psychological testing in the form of exams or quizzes to help the employer make more informed hiring decisions and determine if the prospective employee is honest and/or would be a good fit for the company. These tests are used for positions ranging from department store sales clerk to high-level executive. Isn’t it time that the same be required for candidates for the most important job in the world?

One more: Dr. James Gilligan is clinical professor of psychiatry and adjunct professor of law at NYU. He is a renowned violence studies expert and has served as director of mental health services for the Massachusetts prisons and prison mental hospital, president of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, and as a consultant to President Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, the World Court, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum. His concern isn't how crazy Trump is but how dangerous he is.
Sometimes, a person’s dangerousness is so obvious that one does not need professional training in either psychiatry or criminology to recognize it. One does not need to have had 50 years of professional experience in assessing the dangerousness of violent criminals to recognize the dangerousness of a president who:
Asks what the point of having thermonuclear weapons is if we cannot use them. For example, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough reported that Trump had asked a foreign policy adviser three times, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”
Urges our government to use torture or worse against our prisoners of war. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said “torture works,” and promised to bring back “waterboarding” and to introduce new methods “that go a lot further.”
Urged that five innocent African-American youths be given the death penalty for a sexual assault years after it had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt to have been committed by someone else.
Boasts about his ability to get away with sexually assaulting women because of his celebrity and power. Trump was recorded saying, of his way of relating to women, that “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet…. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Urges his followers at political rallies to punch protesters in the face and beat them up so badly that they have to be taken out on stretchers. In an editorial, the New York Times has quoted the following remarks by Trump at his rallies: “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you”; “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks”; “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell... I will pay for the legal fees, I promise you.”
Suggests that his followers could always assassinate his political rival, Hillary Clinton, if she were elected president or, at the very least, throw her in prison.
And so on, in an endless stream of threats of violence, boasts of violence and incitements to violence.

If psychiatrists with decades of experience doing research on violent offenders do not confirm the validity of the conclusion that many nonpsychiatrists have reached, that Trump is extremely dangerous-- indeed, by far the most dangerous of any president in our lifetimes-- then we are not behaving with appropriate professional restraint and discipline.

However, while all psychiatrists, by definition, have studied mental illness, most have not specialized in studying the causes, consequences, prediction and prevention of violence. That is why it is so important for those few of us who have done so to warn the potential victims, in the interests of public health, when we identify signs and symptoms that indicate that someone is dangerous to the public health. We need to recognize the earliest signs of danger before they have expanded into a full-scale epidemic of lethal or life-threatening injury. If we are silent about the numerous ways in which Trump has repeatedly threatened violence, incited violence or boasted about his own violence, we are passively supporting and enabling the dangerous and naïve mistake of treating him as if he were a “normal” president or a “normal” political leader. He is not, and it is our duty to say so.



At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DWT, many of your readers are unable to understand your fascination with Trump. Most all of your readers agree with you that he is unfit. Then, what's the point of this really long string of posts that focus on how unfit Trump is.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I lean in favor of your comment, 9:44, the fact that nothing is being done in the real world about Trump has to be frustrating. Could all of this focus be about trying to stir up a response to the Oval Office Oaf?

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Sal Solomon said...

I too lean in favor of your comment, 12:08, I find the establishments of both the major parties to be just as unfit, and would like us to focus on seeing some stirring up of a response to that as well.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me answer 9:44 and reply to the others.

"unfit" is subjective.

"Somehow, 42% of voters actually say he is fit. I suppose they're either not paying attention... or the KKK and Nazi movements in America are way bigger than I thought."

Both are true... nobody much gives a fuck AND way more americans are sub-sentient racists than you can possibly fathom.

So... assuming DWT is not sub-sentient, what is the purpose of these constant postings?

Subterfuge. You constantly take advantage of the stupidity and eagerness of americans to hate by asking not the relevant questions, but by asking irrelevant questions.

The democraps are shit and need to be euthanized. period. yet you endorse democraps.
American voters are total dipshits. A third-ish are also religious racists while a third-ish are not so much. The remaining third never has anyone or anything to vote for.
You ask why the orange baboon's ass they elected is unfit? He's unfit because just enough voters who vote are unfit to select their own leadershit.
Why don't you fucking ask why just enough American assclowns can vote when they are unfit to adequately wipe their own asses?
Why do you not ask why democraps keep getting re-elected when, so very clearly, they are equal in shittiness to the Rs that the southern sub-sentient white skidmarks keep electing?
Why don't you ask why $hillbillary was the '16 nom bwo fraud and nobody (not voters, not party, not anyone) said boo?

Instead of posing irrelevant and distracting questions (lord knows that the American electorate needs all the help they can get to focus on what matters), you insist on this shit.

Are you INTENTIONALLY part of the problem? Or are your efforts just another well-meant but still hapless waste of energy and bandwidth?

At this point, I'm only 50-50 on this.

At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What these polls keep showing is that americans cannot find their own ass in the dark with both hands and a flashlight.


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