Everyone knows that mental health professionals should not diagnose people they have never met. It’s called the Goldwater rule… after the Arizona senator and presidential candidate who, in 1964, was widely declared to be stark raving mad by perfectly rational mental health professionals. Said professionals believed that Goldwater was so crazy that he would get America involved in a land war in Asia… or some such thing. You know how that worked out.
We ought to understand the rationale for the Goldwater rule. A president might very well see an advantage in acting crazy… as in, crazy like a fox. He must read the mood of the public and become the persona who can touch the public mind. If you do not know the person and have never dealt with him you are merely reacting to the public persona. Moreover, if you are politically naïve, as most mental health professionals are, you are more likely to be manipulated by the news media and the commentariat.
Trump’s opponents would have a better case if they did not themselves appear to be emotionally unstable. Currently, a little over three weeks into the new administration mental health professionals and even grandstanding politicians are calling for Trump’s impeachment. Recall that emotional instability has never been grounds for impeachment.
People seem to have missed the fact that the clown senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has been advancing the argument that Trump is mentally ill. Considering that Franken’s primary qualification was that he was a stand-up comedian and comedy writer we take his views as a joke. If not, we take him as a joke. When you start taking mental health advice from clowns you ought to question, if not your mental health, at least your rational judgment.
Now, three dozen mental health professionals have graced thepages of the New York Times with their view that Trump is emotionally unstableand unfit to serve. One might have noted that in a democratic republic the people decide such matters. Since the public did not follow the advice of the elites, the elites, here the psycho elites, want to have the president removed from office. Doesn't that spell sore loser?Perhaps this is one case where said professionals would favor involuntary commitment. At the least, they ought to have known that using psychiatry to attack your political opponents comes to us from the old totalitarian Soviet Union.
One understands that said professionals want to throw in with the Resistance. After all, what could be more satisfying than fighting the good fight against Vichy. And they also want to show that their profession has something to contribute to the political debate… even though, truth be told, their analysis shows no effort to grasp anything political. They draw a personality portrait from a few generalizations they have read in the Trumpophobe media.
One notes that the letter's primary signatories, Lance Dodes and Joseph Schachter have trained in psychoanalysis. Readers of this blog will not be surprised. I suspect that their hidden intention is to aggrandize themselves and to show that the carcass of psychoanalysis can emit something other than bad odors.
Dodes and Schachter say this about Trump:
Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behavior suggest a profound inability to empathize. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them (journalists, scientists).
In a powerful leader, these attacks are likely to increase, as his personal myth of greatness appears to be confirmed. We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.
These professionals have summarized all of the talking points of the Democratic and alt-leftist propaganda machine. As for whether what they see as Trump’s flaws are or are not likely to increase… this is certainly not a fact. It is pure speculation, offered from a field that never gets its speculations right anyway. Some people might consider that the two quoted paragraphs represent the latest in scientific knowledge. In truth, they more closely resemble what you can find in a horoscope.
As for Trump's rejection of science, one imagines that they are speaking of climate science, which is disputed by very serious climate scientists-- like Richard Lindzen. See also yesterday's post about facts.
Examine the ideas in the letter. Whatever they believe, Trump is obviously pragmatic. He is not an ideologue. He might have done what he had to do in order to win an election. He won the election. This does not make him crazy or irrational.
Has Trump, as president, flown into a rage about anything? His reaction, for example to the 9th circuit stay of his executive order on immigration was judicious and rational.
Unable to leave aside a good cliché, the authors suggest that Trump has “a profound inability to empathize.” How do they know? And who cares? Have they not read Prof. Paul Bloom’s work on empathy, to the effect that it is largely overrated as a moral barometer? If not, they could have read the many posts and comments I have offered on the subject.
A profound ability to empathize is generally considered a sign of weakness. We saw it for eight years in the White House. How did that work out… for the people of Syria? If you feel bad for your opponent and if you feel the pain you are inflicting him you will become a weak competitor. The authors do not understand this.
And then they talk about is Trump’s “grave emotional instability.” How do they know? Is this a psychiatric category? Does it appear in the DSM?
True enough, there have been glitches in the opening days of the Trump presidency. Might we not relate it to political inexperience and not emotional instability? Besides, the press has become adversarial and oppositional. Every time something appears to go wrong and even when things appear to go right, the press presents the story in terms that make Trump look unhinged.
Have they not noticed that the press and the opposition to Trump is looking more than a little unhinged? Have the psycho professionals not noticed that the press has been distorting the facts to make Trump look bad? Have they not noticed that they are being used as tools to promote a political agenda?
As it happens, the Trump administration has decided to fight back against the press and the media. The press has fought back even more ferociously. They are defending their right to slant the facts to make Trump look bad. Before one accuses Trump with skewing facts, the press and the psycho professionals ought to examine their own behavior. Recall the old line from the Bible: Physician, heal thyself!
Yesterday, for example the Wall Street Journal newsroom suffered a mini-rebellion because reporters wanted the paper to present the Trump news less objectively and more oppositionally. Are these reporters emotionally stable or unstable?
As for the mental health professionals, one would think that their job is to produce emotional stability. By getting involved in a game that they do not understand they are allowing themselves to promote the ambient hysteria and paranoia. They are contributing to the general emotional instability of the anti-Trump forces. One does not know about the president’s mental health, but clearly those who oppose him have been acting like emotional basket cases.
Members of the psycho profession ought to be helping people to understand what is going on in the world. To do so they ought first to try to understand it themselves. They contribute nothing by offering cheap personality analysis, the kind that reads like it came from a horoscope.
They are not political operatives and do not belong to the commentariat. They do their profession no honor by using their skills to make people crazier.