Let's Fix This Country

Psychiatrists Say Trump “Dangerous” and “Untreatable”

They're overriding ethics rules out of concern for country

"Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president", said John D. Gartner, both a practicing psychotherapist and an instructor of psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Quoted in U.S. News just after the inauguration, his diagnosis is that the American President is possessed of not simply a narcissistic personality disorder, but is in the grip of "malignant narcissism", a more serious level which they say is incurable.

One psychotherapist's opinion does not necessarily make it so, especially with a "patient" viewed from afar, but others have come forth. Gartner
started an online petition titled "Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill and Must Be Removed" which so far has the signatures of more than 26,000 who declare themselves to be mental health professionals. The petition cites the 25th Amendment as the procedure for removing an incapacitated president from office.

Alarmed by Barry Goldwater's seeming willingness to use nuclear weapons, psychiatrists spoke out during the 1964 campaign, but that brought about an ethics ruling by the American Psychiatric Association that the profession should no longer diagnose public figures or anyone without a personal examination. That notion is now in disrepute because with public figures, psychiatrists have far more behavioral evidence on view than the small window of 45-minute office sessions. So the professionals are now speaking out.

"Narcissism impairs his ability to see reality," said Dr. Julie Futrell, a clinical psychologist quoted in New York's Daily News. "The maintenance of self-identity is the organizing principle of life for those who fall toward the pathological end of the narcissistic spectrum.”

And it's becoming a media topic. An article in USA Today about the constitutional options for removing a president from office is titled, "What if Trump loses his mind?". The Daily News piece openly cites "the Madness of King Donald", clearly a reference to King George III of Britain, who ruled for decades at the end of the 18th Century into the 19th and was considered mentally ill. Mark Shields and David Brooks both compared Trump to King George III on the PBS "NewsHour", Brooks calling the president "a 5-year-old who has an ego that needs to be fed, and the Universe has to warp around his ego needs so he can feel good about himself". None of them are experts; the point is that the subject is out in the open.

Nor is Barbara Res an expert. She was an executive vice president of the Trump Organization and author of “All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction”. She emailed the Daily News after the above story ran to say that in 1982 one of her workers brought a New York Times article about narcissism to work. "To a person, we all agreed that the characteristics outlined in the article fit Donald to a “T”. Now, 35 years later, professionals are saying what we knew back then. Only now he is so much worse".

The grandiosity of Trump's exalted view of self that the psychiatrists see bursts forth regularly. "I think I have the best temperament or certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that's ever run for the office of president. Ever", he said in mid-summer, just when his erratic conduct had raised the issue. Strolling outside the White House with ABC's David Muir days after his inauguration he said, "I can be the most presidential person ever, other than Lincoln". In his speech the day he announced his candidacy he had said, “I will be the greatest jobs president that God has ever created”. In 2013 he tweeted:

Richard Green, a "communication strategist" who had been interviewing psychiatrists and psychologists about Trump, wrote in The Huffington Post that

"Virtually every mental health professional I interviewed told me that they believed, with 100% certainty, that Mr. Trump satisfied the DSM criteria of this incurable illness [narcissistic personality disorder or NPD] and that, as a result, he is a serious danger to the country and the world".

The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard reference in the field, which lists nine criteria for diagnosing NPD, a list that can be found here. A person who satisfies any five of the criteria is deemed to have the disorder. He posts a letter that two professors of psychiatry and an assistant clinical professor had written to then-President Obama after the election recommending that Mr. Trump "receive a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation". It is tempting to suggest the same for the trio who think that Obama could have compelled such an exam, but their letter points out traits familiar to the lay citizen:

"His widely reported symptoms of instability — grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office."

Ms Futrell further said:

“A narcissist’s defenses function to protect the person from the knowledge of what lies beneath, and as such, must not be challenged lest the walls come crumbling down. It is important to understand that the need to maintain the self-image is so great,... the severe narcissist bends reality to fulfill whatever fantasy about power, wealth, beauty, etc. s/he maintains.”

A careful and chilling exposition of the syndrome is provided by clinical psychologist Lynne Meyer (video, 4.29m). She says in part,

"It's hard-wired way of...behaving in the world…and it actually has a deteriorating course, so he would just get worse. Usually someone with a narcissistic personality disorder is driven by self interest. They're pretty destructive and can be untreatable. For the most part they are one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat, and the reason for that is because … they don't take feedback…they're not taking in reality.

"He doesn't feel he needs daily briefings of what's going on in the world ... so there's the grandiosity… followed by the fact that he's smart. There's the narcissism…. 'I don't need to learn anything. I know best' and nobody gets to tell him anything.

He has found himself in a position where he is omnipotent, which is also very dangerous...The most important thing to be concerned about is the impulsivity. When he gets slighted and enraged, he will act out. He will have access to the nuclear codes, and with his level of impulsivity and instability, that is dangerous for the country and dangerous for the free world".

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