Trump on the Couch
Critics of democracy look often to H.L. Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore, who presciently wrote in On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe,
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
The day has arrived. Donald J. Trump, “firstly can’t make properly informed decisions, according to a White House aide. It was claimed that Trump’s briefing materials must be ‘no more than a single page…They must have bullet points but not more than nine per page.’”
Okay, so The Donald has a short attention span, perhaps a catastrophic case of Attention Deficit Disorder, so what, plenty of leaders likely fall in that category. But, Drs. Lance Dodes and John Gartner risked life, limb and an IRS audit to appear on Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word” and say in professional psychology speak that President Trump is nuts.
Gartner said he is speaking out despite a 1964 law against making public diagnoses,
If I were to take the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and try to create a Frankenstein’s monster of the most dangerous and destructive leader and had freedom to create any combination of diagnosis and symptoms… Trump would be the result.
Dr. Dodes says the President lies constantly and rejects any sort of reality he doesn’t like. The President has too much time on his hands and compulsively watches cable TV then lashes out on twitter if the coverage isn’t positive. White House aids are doing their best to keep him occupied but to no avail.
“He is obsessed with his image, how the media covers him, and writes Saturday Night Live viewings and his staffer’s interviews into his schedule,” writes Eliza Mayhew. “He has claimed a fascination with the phone system inside the White House, but has filed a formal complaint to obtain softer hand towels for Air Force One. These are just some of the examples provided which tell us that tiny things provoke him to emotional extremes. He fluctuates between ‘great joy or intense irritation’ due to things as minuscule as the softness of hand towels.”
As a candidate and now as president, Trump constantly tells us how smart he is, how successful he is, how great his business is, and how China is screwing America with its currency manipulations. Meanwhile, Mayhew relates a story of Trump at 3 am having a burning question he needed answered about the U.S. dollar. Despite plenty of economics wonks ready, willing, and able to be waken at O dark thirty to answer the president’s query, Trump “called his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn,” wondering whether it is “a strong [dollar] that’s good for the economy…or a weak one?”
Flynn passed, claiming ignorance on economic affairs, “which displeased Trump greatly.”
Dr. Gartner says Trump is dangerously mentally ill, diagnosing him with “malignant narcissism.”
Psychology Today notes, “Malignant Narcissists will go to great lengths to achieve their aim. They can be intelligent, high functioning (hold an important job for example) soft-spoken, charming, tearful/seemingly emotional, gracious, well-mannered, kind and have the ability to form relationships. They may lie, falsely accuse, dramatize, smear, cheat, steal, manipulate, accuse, blame or twist to get what they want and feel justified in doing so. Because they are entitled, egocentric and desperate, they do not experience it as wrong.”
Now doubt a book will be coming, similar to Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch. That is, if Trump lasts long enough on the job. Talk of invoking the 25th Amendment, “transfer of power to the vice president when either the president requests it, as in a health crisis, and also if our nation’s leaders determine he’s unfit” abound.