Finally, whispers have ceased and voices have been raised to audible levels. One voice is that of Sen. Al Franken (D-Min.); another voice is that of Harvard educated Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, author and blogger. Both voices surfaced Sunday, February 12, 2017, to unequivocally state that President Trump is displaying signs of mental illness.
Sullivan, appearing on Brian Stelter’s CNN show Reliable Sources to discuss his article (recently published in the bi-weekly New York magazine) entitled “The Madness of King Donald,” said “To have such an unstable figure, incapable of accepting reality, at the center of the world, is an extremely dangerous thing”.1 Sullivan further stated that the president is exhibiting “bonkers” behavior and that journalists are doing the public a disservice tip toeing around the issue. In other words, the press should stop ignoring the crazy GOP elephant in the Oval Office; the one with its foot on the nuclear option (more on that in a few paragraphs).
In a telltale sign of the state of our nation, Sen. Franken appeared on CNN to speak with Jake Tapper on State of the Union. They spoke about Franken’s recent appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher where the Senator said, “Some will say that [Trump’s] not right mentally,” referring to his senatorial colleagues. Tapper pressed him on that by asking, “So, I know that was comedy, but is it true that Republican colleagues of yours express concern about President Trump’s mental health?” “A few,” the Senator replied. To which a stunned Tapper responded: “Really?” “Yes. It’s not the majority of them. It’s a few.” “In what way?” Tapper asked. “In the way that we all have this suspicion that – you know, that he’s not – he lies a lot. He says things that aren’t true. That’s the same as lying, I guess. He – you know, three million to five million people voted illegally. There was a new one about people going in from Massachusetts to New Hampshire” – “Thousands and thousands in a bus, yes” Tapper inserted – “Yes.” Franken continued “And, you know, that is not the norm for a President of the United States, or, actually, for a human being.”2
In Sullivan’s newly gained writing space in New York where his byline will appear on “most Fridays,” he explains that his first piece “The Madness of King Donald”3 is an experiment to find something between a blog and a column. Something that’s more along the lines of “the British magazine tradition of a weekly diary — on the news, but a little distant from it, personal as well as political, conversational more than formal.”
In the article Sullivan addresses the difference in past presidents telling lies and Trump’s “whoppers.” He states that previous presidential liars “paid some deference to the truth — even as they were dodging it. They acknowledged a shared reality and bowed to it. They acknowledged the need for a common set of facts in order for a liberal democracy to function at all.” Meaning that past presidents always returned to reality, acknowledging the truth … no matter how thinly in doing so.
He points out that there is a canyon-esque divide between the accepted, normal past presidential postulations, pseudo facts, quasi truths – and President Trump’s refusal to recognize his absurd behavior, to capitulate back to reality, to face facts, to tell the truth. Instead, Trump lashes out. He raises the bar even higher (think crowd size on inauguration day, voter fraud, CNN is fake news, SNL sucks, ad infinitum).
Sullivan’s thesis for a mentally impaired president is basically summed up with this: “Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission.” Sullivan offers the following as a real world example of witnessing unstable mental health:
Then there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.
Gentle reader, you’ll now have to read Sullivan’s article – “The Madness of King Donald”4 – to access more of this brilliant man’s observations on our president’s state of mind. To quote more from that article would be disrespectful of his work, of which I am already teeter tottering on doing anyway.
As I read Sullivan’s article, I thought back to my college days at City College, San Diego, where I studied psychology under Doctors Weiner and Cydell. Those were very enlightening days, and I have used the knowledge gained from those days to make statements in previous articles on our president’s state of being. It is my belief that Donald J. Trump is mentally unstable, unhealthy, and mentally deficient due to a severe case of narcissism, a personality disorder. I hold no professional credentials to make such a claim and therefore this is simply one man’s opinion. The best I can do for you is to state that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lays out in great detail the criteria and specific behavioral traits for mental disorders. Narcissism is a debilitating mental disorder and the DSM-5’s criteria for diagnosis are:5
“The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. To diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, the following criteria must be met:
- Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:
- Impairments in self-functioning (a or b):
- Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.
- Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations. – AND –
- Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
- Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others.
- Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others’ experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain.
- Impairments in self-functioning (a or b):
- Pathological personality traits in the following domain:
- Antagonism, characterized by:
- Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either avert or covert; self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others.
- Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.
- Antagonism, characterized by:
- The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.
- The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.
- The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).”
Well then … gentle reader, there’s the criteria needed for you to arrive at your own conclusion and form your own opinion. If you conclude, as I have, that our president is suffering from a mental disorder, then consider the title of this article again: “Narcissistic Jingoism.” From the DSM-5, we now have a full understanding of narcissism. Here’s the definition of jingoism: “extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy.”
Narcissistic and Jingoism combined should scare the living hell out of you, as it does me. All I am left to do is pray, and when an atheist prays you know goddamned good and well that he is hoping against hope that “God Blesses America” soon and removes Donald J. Trump’s sick finger from the nuclear trigger before it is too late.
You will know the end is nigh when Trump starts channeling Commander Queeg from the Cain Mutiny,6 while rolling steel balls in his small hand and babbling incoherently about missing strawberries. Let’s hope when that happens that Trump is surrounded by psychologists who invoke the involuntary commitment law and that they immediately commit him, banishing him to the nearest mental hospital.
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