Assessing a president’s behavior
Abook titled “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump—27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President” has just been published, and warning bells started pealing in mymind as I read its reviews and part of its contents.
The contents have very intriguing titles, which we may recognize because of local parallelisms, to wit: “Pathological Narcissism and Politics: A Lethal Mix.” “Trump is (A) Bad, (B) Bad, (C) All of the Above.” “Should Psychiatrists Refrain from Commenting on Trump’s Psychology?” “In Relationship with an Abusive President.” Etc., etc.
None of these experts have ever personally examined Trump, and in the United States there is the so-called Goldwater rule, imposed by the American Psychiatric Association ( APA), gagging psychiatrists from commenting on the mental health of any public figure. On the other hand, there is in 33 American states a “duty to warn” law, and this is allegedly enshrined in the ethical code of every mental health profession in that country. Apparently, the 27 psychiatrists were of the opinion that their duty to warn was more important than the APA gag, and decided to assess Trump.
“We need to avoid uncritical acceptance of this new version of malignant normality and, instead, bring our knowledge and experience to exposing it for what it is,” says Robert Jay Lifton, MD, who is acknowledged as one of the top, if not the top, mental health experts, on Trump’s behavior. Another contributor says, “Every time he does, we need to point it out, to prevent the abnormal from being normalized. We need to look for news hooks and pounce.”
John Gartner, PhD, one of the contributors, started a petition for mental health professionals to sign, demanding that Trump be removed from office under the 25th Amendment; it now has more than 48,000 signatures. He founded Duty to Warn, an association of mental health professionals united by the idea that it is their ethical responsibility to warn the public about the dangers posed by Donald Trump’s mental health.
The book’s contributors are not wackos. They are at the top of their professions, and sincerely believe that Trump is a danger to their country.
Reader, one cannot have failed to notice (I called attention to this earlier) the parallelisms between Mr. Trump and our President. There are two major differences, and the first is that President Duterte has been psychologically examined, because it was a requisite for marriage annulment proceedings. And as I mentioned in a previous column, his examiner was Dr. Natividad Dayan, former president of the International Council of Psychologists.
Dr. Dayan concluded that Mr. Duterte was suffering from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” a condition characterized by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors,” and “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings.” Does that sound familiar?
The second major difference is that Trump presides over arguably the most powerful country in the world, while Mr. Duterte presides over the Philippines, a lower-middle-class country. However, over the 100 million plus residents of the Philippines Mr. Duterte does have the power of life and death—figuratively, and to some, literally.
Therefore, at the very least, don’t we citizens have the right to know about our President’s mental health? Is his behavior nothing more than that of a spoiled brat, an enfant terrible with a dirty mouth, as his handlers make him appear to be, or is it more sinister?
I have made this suggestion before, but in the light of the new book on Trump, I make it again: Our Philippine Medical Association, or whatever psychological or psychiatric associations should get together, with or without Dr. Dayan’s presence, and assess the President’s behavior, based on her report and based on what they read about him. I amsure that informally, they have already done that. But in the interests of the country, we have to know: Is the President fit to preside over our fates, or should we be warned? Does he still have that narcissistic personality disorder?