The last post noted how even some Republicans are making noises about enacting legislation mandating presidents to undergo medical and mental health examinations. While no one has officially evaluated Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer's mental health, his actions both during the 2016 campaign and during the first week of his regime have mental health experts increasingly speculating on Trump mental instability. Among the latest is Dr. John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist and instructor for psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. U.S. News & World Reports has details on Gartner's frightening diagnosis. Here are highlights:
Presidential temperaments and personalities are exhaustively examined by professionals and lay people alike, as both experts and the public try to figure out what makes the most powerful man in the world tick. Richard Nixon was widely regarded as paranoid, keeping an enemies list. Bill Clinton, his biographers write, had a "hypomanic" personality that included a high-energy, hard-working and creative work style coupled with an impulsiveness and quick temper.
With President Donald Trump, however, the observations of the presidential personality have taken on a more ominous tone. Lawmakers and experts say they are troubled by Trump's extraordinary focus on his own brand and popularity, including frequent and angry insistences that his crowds are bigger and more enthusiastic than anyone else's and that, despite official vote counts to the contrary, he really won the popular vote for president.
When Trump was told that he was mis-characterizing a Pew study the president said showed evidence of voter fraud, Trump attacked the study's author, accusing him of now "groveling" – the same word then-candidate Trump used to disparage a disabled reporter in a separate dispute with Trump over facts.
The behavior of the new president in his first week in office has experts and elected officials wondering: is this just a case of a president with predictable quirks, or is it something that raises concerns about Trump's judgment and adherence to factual reality?
John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, minces as few words as the president in his professional assessment of Trump.
"Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president," says Gartner, author of "In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography." Trump, Gartner says, has "malignant narcissism," which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable.
Gartner acknowledges that he has not personally examined Trump, but says it's obvious from Trump's behavior that he meets the diagnostic criteria for the disorder, which include anti-social behavior, sadism, aggressiveness, paranoia and grandiosity. Trump's personality disorder (which includes hypomania) is also displayed through a lack of impulse control and empathy, and "a feeling that people ... don't recognize their greatness.
"We've seen enough public behavior by Donald Trump now that we can make this diagnosis indisputably," says Gartner.
His comments run afoul of the so-called Goldwater Rule, the informal term for part of the ethics code of the American Psychiatric Association saying it is wrong to provide a professional opinion of a public figure without examining that person and gaining consent to discuss the evaluation. But Gartner says the Trump case warrants breaking that ethical code.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans deflect questions about Trump's temperament and his re-litigation of a campaign he won. Democrats are alarmed.
"We've moved from the entertainment to the clinical concern. There is a serious clinical concern about, how delusional is this guy?" says Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. "It will only get worse, because this guy is the president and he's surrounded by enablers and sycophants, who instead of trying to call him on it are fueling the delusion.
"What concerns me is that a man who is convinced of obvious falsehoods, based on some psychological need to believe it – maybe this will occur in something important, too. And then he's [potentially] acting on, taking a position on something that could get us involved in God knows what, based on imagination."
As I have said a number of times, be very, very afraid. We have a maniac in the White House and Congressional Republicans are mimicking German politicians who refused to recognize the existential threat Hitler posed to Germany.