Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Donald Trump Crazy?

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. 


Sam L. said...

"Moreover, if you are politically naïve, ... you are more likely to be manipulated by the news media and the commentariat." After all, that IS their job. They are pretty good at it. This is why i trust them not.

Also, I've seen a suggestion that the "alt-left" should be called the "ctrl-left" as control is what they want.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"... the press has become adversarial and oppositional."

They have become lunatic, actually. I don't know if that's a psychiatric term, but the shoe fits. If hold any doubts, watch a White House press briefing. It's like a convulsive audience of indignation.

"Are these reporters emotionally stable or unstable?"

Does it matter? It certainly doesn't seem the WSJ crew is advocating that they actually do their jobs. And their reason for not doing their jobs is because of their unhinged emotional reaction to what they see going on. Their job is to report what's going on. Objectivity is not emotional. I thought the reason they call know criminals "suspects" is because they're looking to maintain their vaunted objectivity. If they can use it or not use it anytime they like, they are engaging in negligence and malpractice. But maybe not. After all, how does one become a journalist? They say they are one or are hired as one. Hardly an objective standard. Why should we believe what they say?

A second problem with all this is that it has become normal to have journalists reporting on the modern understanding of reportage, which is akin to forwarding an email or retweeting. It's a gossip mill. They parrot each other, all day long. Twitter is like feeding them cocaine. I assert journalists are some of the laziest people on the planet. If their business is to report reports, why are there all those journalists and photographers at the White House briefings? Might one or two journalists and one or two photographers be enough? Who in that room is really generating a unique, objective take about what's going on? I haven't heard anything new since Trump took office. It's just awful, terrible and horrible.

"... the kind that reads like it came from a horoscope."
It feeds the narrative, man!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Is Donald Trump crazy? I wonder if the House Republicans are crazy.

If they can't obliterate ObamaCare and pas real tax reform, what is having the House, Senate and Presidency worth?

At this rate, our gun rights are at stake with timid representatives like this. What will they do if there's a threat to the Second Amendemnt? Run for the exits?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Actually, in addition to reporters reporting on reporting, there is another major source of news these days: reporting verbatim (read: as truth) whatever Democrats say from whatever podium. Never has this been more clear than in Rep. Elijah Cummings' characterization of some fake news about Michael Flynn tweets/comments.

Integrity on full display, for as many people go see as possible. That's the psyops campaign against the Trump Administration. They'd better wise-up and beat this phony media phalanx, because otherwise... all is lost. It's like a media-generated ectoplasm... whatever's required to make it stick, a la "Ghostbusters."

Now that the community-organizer-in-chief -- freshly back from Hawaii -- is no longer POTUS, it's open season for community organizing. And organize he will. Relentlessly. That's what he's good at. Remember: Hillary winning would've prevented him from actualizing his greatest talent, his greatest goal: direct agitprop, mobilizing phony citizen action, mob violence, amplified projection of force, pixelated legions, etc.

In other words: amplified nonsense. That's Obama's M.O. What else is he going to do? Work?

Ares Olympus said...

There are numerous problems with using "mental fitness" or "mental illness" as a standard for rejecting a leader.

The fundamental one within a democracy is that at least the 46% of people who voted for Trump surely don't know anything more now than when they originally voted for him. His behavior has been consistently erratic. His disregards for fact checking unchanged. His boasting and self admiration at being popular is unchanged, and his supporter seem to be largely quite fine with this.

So even if we imagined a scenario that he could be removed from power, whatever that scenario might look like, we have to accept it will have to be through those closest to him, rather than his political rivals, so not even the Republican party really has a great say in it. Of course any process that would remove Trump from power and replace him with Mike Pence will have some legitimacy, since the same 46% who voted for Trump also voted for Pence on the same ticket.

But anything besides that is going to look like a political coup d'etat. If the Republicans have to not only override President Trump AND vice President Pence, that's not going to work unless we can also imagine Pence is equally proved unfit.

And I agree "hysteria against Trump" may contain at least as much mental illness as whatever afflicts Trump himself. And so clearly it is better for the opposition to stay calm, focus on action rather than words, and otherwise hope Trump's support system is capable of helping keep him from doing anything too crazy.

Of course anything can happen, and it may be in 6 months there is a wide consensus that Trump is unfit by some measure, and he may be removed from power, America and the world may breath a sigh of relief, but it will be a dangerous precedence. And you can imagine it will be used again on some future leader who is merely unpopular to whatever "establishment" exists.

And it can be abused in the opposite direction, where a president may declare his political opposition as "unfit" and find a kangaroo court of psychologists to sign off on locking up the opposition.

Myself, I continue to believe republicans to blame here. The Republican party could refused to allow Trump to run in their party. They could have rejected him from participating in the party debates. And Trump could have run third party, and they would have lost their chance to win, with a 3 way race weakening them.

But they were more democratic than the Democrats, and he was allowed to participate, and he won, so now the reputation of the entire republican party lies vulnerable to Trump's antics. And so the 54% who voted against Trump and against the Republicans, we have to wait for public sentiment to shift and encourage those with integrity within the Republican party to continue voicing opposition.

After Nixon was forced to resign, I recall in Minnesota we had the "Independent Republican" party for maybe up to 2 decades. So perhaps this is how things fall - Republicans who refuse to fall inline will find its better to be outside the party than inside madness, and they'll be the voices for reform, when the Republican party falls into complete chaos and ill repute.

We all know W wasn't the smartest guy on the block, but he was someone we wanted to drink a beer with. And whatever is going on with Trump's brain, people like him, and believe in him, and democracy says some things we have to learn the hard way. W made it through 8 years, but its hard to imagine this can go on another year, much less 4 years for a re-election. Yet, if we're collectively irrational, we deserve what we get, and we must just hope individually we can stay out of harms way.

It's all preposterous, but I can take zero responsibility for outcomes. I get to watch the show, and I'm about as safe as anyone can hope to be.

And its not like I wasn't worried anyway. Our problems didn't start with Trump. He's a symptom, not the disease.

n.n said...

The special and peculiar interests of the Left, Right, and Center are concerned that they will lose their capital and power with the the end of abortion chambers, Planned Parenthood (e.g. clinical cannibalism), progressive wars, elective regime changes, immigration reform (e.g. refugee crises), [class] diversity (i.e. institutional racism, sexism), congruence or selective exclusion (e.g. "="), female chauvinism, progressive debt, redistributive change, scientific mysticism (e.g. catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, spontaneous human conception), the artificial green blight, environmental and labor arbitrage, demographic redistricting, educational debt slavery, etc. It's a comprehensive problem and a lot of people stand to lose if there is revitalization, rehabilitation, and reconciliation.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @February 15, 2017 at 12:00 AM:

"It's all preposterous, but I can take zero responsibility for outcomes. I get to watch the show, and I'm about as safe as anyone can hope to be."

That is a prescient, perfect capture of who you are.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

n.n @February 15, 2017 at 5:50 AM:

To add...

In the end, I think we need to keep a single question in mind: WHO RUNS THE COUNTRY? Elected officials, or the peripheral interests (the judiciary, bureaucracy, intelligence community, law enforcement, activist groups, etc.)?

Whatever one wants to say about Trump, he was elected President. Whatever one wanted to say about Obama, he was elected. Whatever is to be said about Pelosi or Reid, they're elected. Same for Ryan, McConnell, etc.

Yet with yesterday's revelations around the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, I don't see how the federal apparatus can be governed. With media being used as a distribution channel for the Leftist ideology and agenda, I don't see how the nation's executive can govern. And with a former president (Obama) organizing a nationwide resistance apparatus of direct action (funded by Soros' billions), it all begs the question...

Who runs the country?

A people who feel they have no say in the actions of government will become restless and demand outcomes by other means. That is NOT what we want. But as n.n says, we have become so ideologically blind that we are ignoring the foundation of the American representative republican foundation of our country. If the NSA, CIA and FBI can take down a president's National Security Advisor, then who runs these sprawling intelligence machine holding so much unchecked power?

If we're worried about blackmail, where were these people when Hillary was a candidate? If Trump is so awful, it stands to reason they wanted her as POTUS. She's the walking embodiment of blackmail risk! We're concerned about lying and obfuscation? U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice outright lied on 5 national Sunday talk shows about Benghazi, and then she went on to become National Security Advisor. Obama didn't care about supposed/alleged Russian hacking until Hillary lost, and now it's a matter of grave national concern. We had Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of Staff operating in an extraordinary executive capacity, and he held dual American-Israeli citizenship. How is that not a conflict of interest? We're saying Steve Bannon is a grave threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, our American Lenin? Valerie Jarrett effectively ran the country for 8 years as Obama's Rasputin, and no one in the MSM raised an eyebrow. Jarrett called Obama by his first name. He sought her counsel on almost every decision. What was her agenda?

What I am pointing to here is that we do not have institutions to feed us real information. This is all getting rather dangerous.

I am not saying Flynn is innocent, I am saying that the way he was taken down was calculated, selective and coordinated. This is not how our system is supposed to work. Bureaucrats serve the president. We'd better get a bead on who's running this country.