Is the President Nuts? How About the Psychiatrists Who Think So?
It’s been a while now since the president’s doctor said that while Mr. Trump could stand to lose a few pounds, he’s in “excellent” health. He’s got a good heart rate, good blood pressure levels -- and when it comes to his cognitive abilities, he’s AOK.
When he announced all that at a nationally televised news conference you could see the disappointment on the faces of many reporters in the White House pressroom. And based on the questions they asked, you’d be excused if you got the impression that more than a few of them were kind of hoping he had a terminal disease.
And you just know that there’s not a progressive this side of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who believes the president is in good shape mentally, no matter what his doctor said. They thought the president was nuts before the examination and they think he’s nuts after the examination.
You might excuse the liberals who live in the world of politics for their wishful thinking, but what about the mental health professionals who also think the president is not playing with a full deck?
Last December, Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee briefed about a dozen Democrats in Congress on President Trump’s mental health. Later she told Politico, “He’s going to unravel,” adding that, “Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”
Dr. Lee compiled a controversial book called “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” a collection of essays by 27 psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals that raised doubts about his mental fitness.
Oh, before I forget, neither Dr. Lee nor any of the others who contributed to the book has ever examined Donald Trump.
Under the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater Rule,” it’s unethical for a psychiatrist to comment on a public figure’s mental health without first examining him. Dr. Lee says she’s not engaging in “armchair psychiatry” and hasn’t violated any ethical code. But, after several Members of the House said they plan to bring her in to host future events, Sally Satel, also a Yale psychiatrist wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “I wish Dr. Lee would stop making House calls. Her actions risk discrediting our profession.”
After the president’s doctor said he passed the cognitive skills test, Dr. Lee said he needs a more comprehensive test, “an in-depth neuropsychiatric evaluation by experts,” as she put it in an op-ed in USA Today which she co-wrote with Norman Eisen, who served as Barack Obama’s ethics czar (whatever that means).
In that op-ed they wrote that, “The subject of the debate is Trump’s behavior — impulsive, inappropriate, offensive, reckless and shocking — which we as a nation have tolerated. Is it something more than a mere departure from decency and historical norms? How concerned should America and the world be if the nation’s chief executive acts this way?”
Here’s another question: How concerned should we be when a psychiatrist becomes a willing participant in a polarizing political war whose not-so-hidden goal is to show that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to serve as president?
But as is his way, Mr. Trump gives his critics plenty of ammunition. He doesn’t even try to hide his narcissism. He’s either compulsively dishonest or he just plain gets things wrong, a lot. Add to that, those stream of consciousness speeches where he wanders all over the place, and his seeming inability to take a verbal shot without firing back with childish taunts.
That might make him an odd choice to be President of the United States, but that’s what he is, and legitimately elected to boot -- until or unless we hear otherwise from the special counsel looking into his ties with the Russians.
Yes, Donald Trump may come off as foolish to a lot of Americans who aren’t charter members of his adoring hard-core base – but foolish doesn’t make him mentally ill.
Besides, he was a narcissist and impulsive and vindictive and all the rest from the moment he came down that escalator at Trump Tower. There’s no evidence that he’s gotten worse since he became president.
The progressives who want him out of office and were hoping his doctor would hand them the smoking gun – concluding that he’s off his rocker -- need to calm down. Donald Trump, despite what they believe, is not a deranged person – even if from time to time he does a pretty good impersonation of one.
As for the doctors who have never been in the same room with him but are pretty sure he’s unhinged, as Dr. Satel neatly sums it up: “The actions of Dr. Lee and her colleagues politicize psychiatry, and in doing so squander the profession’s authority and goodwill.”
It’s bad enough when politicians behave like political animals. We don’t need psychiatrists and psychologists joining the menagerie.