Let’s be candid: anyone running for President of the United States by definition has an enormous ego. Believing that you can discharge the enormous responsibilities of that office requires that you think pretty highly of yourself.
And let’s also acknowledge that past Presidents have had mental and emotional problems–think Nixon’s paranoia, Reagan’s Alzheimers, Clinton’s sexual issues….
What Americans are facing now, in the third year of Trump’s Presidency, is absolutely unprecedented. Previously, damaged occupants of the Oval Office at least had offsetting talents. They also knew the Constitution constrained the executive branch, and when they tried to circumvent those constraints, they acted strategically. Trump is far and away the most ignorant and intellectually limited person to hold the office, and even worse, too ignorant to know he’s ignorant–a walking, talking example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Ignorance and stupidity aside, there is ample evidence of severe mental illness, as Sarah Burris explains in an article for Raw Story.
Dr. Lance Dodes warned that things were going to get worse under President Donald Trump in 2017. That’s precisely what happened….
“Donald Trump, because he has a fundamental need to be all-powerful and all loved, can’t stand challenges,” Dr. Dodes said. “And the nature of democracy is that it challenges people. We have more than one opinion. So the more — it was predictable once he got into a position where people would challenge him, there are two parties, he would become more unhinged.
Wednesday’s press availability on the White House South Lawn showed exactly that, he explained.
“As you watched him respond to people, the more they challenged him, the more he ranted,” Dr. Dodes continued. “He stopped responding to the questions, and instead, he started to talk about how people were agents of fake news. He said that they would go out of business soon. They would die…This is the same kind of thing that he did when he was a candidate when he suggested someone protesting at his campaign rally be taken out and beaten up.”
According to the psychiatrist, Trump simply cannot handle situations where people disagree with him. And of course, there has never been a Presidency–or any political campaign–without disagreement. Elections are intended to be a forum for disputes, with voters choosing which side of the dispute “wins.”
“The more he is challenged, the more he can’t stand anything that disagrees with him, and the more you challenge him, the more unhinged he becomes, the more paranoid, and the more violent, potentially,” he said.
In the interview, Dr. Dodes was asked about Trump’s look heavenward and his statement that he was “the chosen one. ” Dodes explained it was just another example of Trump’s excessive grandiosity. As he noted, many people in public life have a grandiose sense of self, but Trump’s is on a far bigger scale.
“There is a fundamental way in which he’s empty. There’s something fundamentally different about him from normal people. It’s a psychotic-like state. The more you press him, the more you see how disorganized and empty he is. The more he flies into a disorganized rage. So yeah, and by the way, in terms of being God, he also made several what you might call Freudian slips during the interview today. He kept mixing up who he was and who the country was. He said, ‘I have the best economy.’ I, not the country. ‘I defeated the caliphate.’ It’s not just a slip of the tongue; he really doesn’t get it. He thinks of himself as a dictator, and it’s all him and no one else really matters.”
Dodes is far from the only mental health professional to warn about Trump’s delusions. (For that matter, you needn’t be a psychiatrist to recognize that he occupies an alternate reality.) The question is: how much damage will he inflict before he is ejected from the Oval Office?
This Presidency has one redeeming element (if we survive it)–it has illuminated several major problems America faces: the lack of a realistic mechanism to remove a dangerously unfit President (the 25th Amendment doesn’t operate in a highly partisan environment); the widespread civic ignorance that enables such a person to maintain the support of a base of unhappy and angry citizens; and the civic apathy that got us to this point.
In 2020, we need to elect someone sane. Then we have a lot of cleanup work to do.