America's Psychiatrists and Psychologists Let Us All Down - BIGLY

America's Psychiatrists and Psychologists Let Us All Down - BIGLY

Even modestly intelligent persons have recognized, ever since he entered the political arena, that Donald Trump has long been seriously disabled by his narcissism. His irrational, unstable and dangerous behavior was manifestly obvious and deeply troubling throughout the lengthy election process.

But no one with advanced training in the diseases of the mind came forward to warn Americans about how serious were the consequences of Trump’s afflictions. In fact, the silence was deafening.

America’s credentialed psychiatrists and psychologists throughout the country were eerily out to lunch from the moment Trump signaled his intention to run for president through the day he was elected. Adhering to a self-imposed and so-called Goldwater Rule, dating to the elections of 1964, The American Psychiatric Association forbade its members from making public pronouncements about the mental health of those in or running for political office. Their logic, at the time, was that diagnoses could not reliably be made without having treated the individual in question personally and for a lengthy period of time.

And so they all were silent. And, by so being they let the country and the world down – big time. Only in the last few days – and it is important to note, after the election of Donald Trump, did John Gartner, a private practice psychologist who had been an instructor at Johns Hopkins, finally break the silence and come forward to warn both of Trump’s serious mental illness and of the even more serious dangers his illness could reign down upon us all. It took him a long time to conclude that he had no choice but to break the Goldwater Rule and to speak out. In less than a week, almost 20,000 psychiatrists, psychologists and other therapists have come forward to sign a petition he wrote calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office based on a “serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable to competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.”

Alas, one has to give Gartner credit for finally breaking the silence. But it sure would have been a whole lot more impactful had he and/or other colleagues come forward before the election.

It’s worthy of note, if you are not scared enough already, that Gartner and the others who have signed this petition diagnose Trump as suffering from Malignant Narcissism, a label first used by Erich Fromm. Gartner’s thesis is that we have never had anyone come near serving as president as malignantly and dangerously impulsive, anti-social and deceitful, and that, as a result, “there are no guardrails for us.”

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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