Category Archives: Trump, Donald

Psychoanalysis is that mental illness for which it regards itself as therapy

An American psychologist by the name of John Gartner argues that Donald Trump should be removed from office on psychiatric grounds:

We live in a pre-fascist society…The German psychiatric association said nothing during the rise of Hitler…We are facing a crisis that threatens to engulf the world in flames…Trump meets standards for commitment and should be required to undergo psychiatric evaluation, whether he wants to or not…The man is threatening to murder an entire country…We cannot call the authorities because the homicidal patient is the authorities.

Dalrymple notes that Gartner

displays no knowledge of or imaginative insight into what it is like to live in a totalitarian dictatorship—his Jewishness notwithstanding—despite countless memoirs, academic books, and films attesting to and describing life under authoritarian rule. Such ignorance or lack of imagination is culpable. For an American to compare contemporary life in the USA, no doubt unsatisfactory as it is in many respects, with life in a fascist dictatorship is self-dramatising, self-pitying, and an insult to those millions who suffered or died under totalitarian dictatorships.

It is legitimate to oppose the government and to despise the person of the president;

it is another thing to claim jurisdiction over whether he should be entitled to be president and whether he ought to be removed by committal to a mental institution. In the Soviet Union, psychiatrists occupied the kind of commissarship that Gartner is appealing for.

Gartner

shows an implicit contempt for US institutions and history if he thinks that the election of one allegedly unstable man can turn his country into a fascist dictatorship almost overnight.

He is

what Kraus said of psychoanalysis, a cause of the disease it pretends to cure. He believes that people who show instability, anger, paranoia, feelings of persecution, and cognitive confusion would and should be involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation.

Dalrymple suggests that Gartner read Chekhov’s 1892 short story Ward No. 6, in which Dr Ragin is committed to his own asylum.

Trump’s finest hour

Donald Trump: patriotism, generosity and good sense

Reading in his morning newspaper that the General Assembly of the United Nations had greeted a short section of Donald Trump’s speech with laughter, Dalrymple’s esteem for the US president grows. The laughter, Dalrymple writes,

gave rise to Mr Trump’s finest moment. He took it in good part, admitted that he had not expected it, and said it was perfectly all right.

The moment

revealed something about world opposition to Mr Trump: that it is bogus or not deeply felt, and is pro forma.

Dalrymple asks:

  • Would the General Assembly have laughed disrespectfully at Mr Putin or Mr Xi, and would either of them have reacted in the same good-natured way if it had?
  • Did anyone laugh at Mr Obama’s fatuously grandiose claim that his election marked the beginning of healthcare in the United States and the healing of the planet, at least the equal in absurdity of anything said by Mr Trump?
  • Is Mr Trump’s slogan Make America great again any shallower than Mr Obama’s Yes we can?

Barack Obama: absurdity, grandiosity and fatuity

Dalrymple points out that Trump is held to a different standard; and anyone really believing the president was an incipient totalitarian dictator wouldn’t have laughed.

Trump’s speech offered

a more generous view of the world than that of most of his opponents. He called on the people of all countries to be patriotic, acknowledging that people of all countries had something to be patriotic about.

Trump’s was a vision of the world that was

far more genuinely multicultural and multipolar than those who believe in, or call for, a kind of European Union on a global scale, in which all cultures are ground into a food mixer from which a health-giving culture juice of universal rights (to healthcare, social security, etc.) will emerge.

The European Union monstrosity: an emergent bureaucratic tyranny

Trump’s view of patriotism certainly did not entail

the hatred of or disdain for, let alone enmity towards, other countries. What he said in essence was that he wanted a world of live and let live. He appeared to understand that a world government without borders would necessarily be a monstrous bureaucratic tyranny with no possible legitimacy.

To be sure, he simplified problems, but

to look to political speeches for subtle elucidation of knotty problems is like looking to tabloid newspapers for metaphysical insight.

‘Resistance’ is absurd, also dangerous

It is not necessary to be an unqualified admirer of Donald Trump, writes Dalrymple,

to know that comparisons of him with Adolf Hitler, which are not infrequent, are absurd.

It ascribes to him a degree of importance that he does not have.

You could only compare Mr Trump to Hitler if you had absolutely no faith in the American political system, and if you thought every last provision in the Constitution for restraints on power had been vitiated.

The word ‘resistance’, says Dalrymple,

is likewise absurd, but also dangerous. One opposes politicians, but one resists dictators. If the word ‘resistance’ is used for opposition to Mr Trump, then the impression is given, and presumably is intended to be given, that he is a dictator: and against a dictator, actions may justifiably be taken that are not justified against an ordinary politician.

The habit of using the word ‘resistance’ to mean opposition to policies that you don’t like

can become entrenched and will not remain confined to one’s own faction alone. Resistance sanctions violence, and so a society can tear itself apart without having experienced anything remotely to justify, or even explain, it.

The man who said he thought Trump’s policies were rational

In an H.M. Bateman moment, Dalrymple says he thinks Trump’s policies are rational:

  • It is rational for a country to seek control of who comes into it.
  • It is rational for a country to impose an economically advantageous tax régime.
  • It is rational for a country to abandon administrative obstacles to progress.

27 idiotic mental health ‘experts’

Dalrymple writes that The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (2017) is

principally an echo chamber for the thoughts and feelings of those who abominate Mr Trump.

The authors relay their political preferences rather than provide any independent or dispassionate knowledge.

Dalrymple’s chief objection to the book

is not so much its transgression of a rule of professional ethics, but its profound, though predictable, banality.

Psychological ‘diagnosis’ of this kind

amounts to little more than re-description of easily and publicly observable traits and conduct. Anyone reading the 360 pages of this book will probably come away with nothing new to him, no fact that he did not know before, and no opinion that he had not heard before.

The explanatory value of the diagnoses offered by the ‘experts’ is

virtually nil.

For example,

we know that Mr Trump has narcissistic personality disorder because he is narcissistic; he is narcissistic because he has narcissistic personality disorder. This is the kind of ‘explanation’ that Molière ridiculed: opium produces sleep because it has within it a dormitive property.

Trump, the book informs us,

lacks self-esteem. That is why he is so narcissistic. He is always trying desperately to compensate for his permanently damaged self-conception.

Of course, says Dalrymple,

if he were a morbidly shy and retiring man, the same lack of self-esteem would explain it. In effect, then, the same factor explains everything from the grossest exhibitionism to the most profound social withdrawal.

Trump, his fans and his foes on the couch

A psychiatrist writes

It is a discomfiting thought, notes Dalrymple, that

the very qualities that make Donald Trump so repellent a man even for many of those who voted for him should be the very qualities that others of his voters liked and admired. They liked him for his

  • crudity
  • vulgarity
  • boastfulness
  • insensitivity
  • shamelessness
  • ignorance

The still small voice within the orthodox

Yet, says the psychiatrist-essayist,

the vehemence directed against Mr Trump is, like his exaggerated self-regard, reaction formation. Except that in this case it is against an awareness that, in rejecting past orthodoxies, he is not only right but appeals to the still small voice within the orthodox themselves — the voice that tells them they were deluding themselves all along, or saying things that they knew not to be true but said nevertheless to establish their reputation as good, caring, generous-minded, liberal people.

The frenzy of their hatred for Mr Trump is

an inverted sign of their secret illicit agreement with him, which they repress by means of their continual insults.

Trump anxiety disorder

In the trenches: Jennifer Contarino Panning, Psy.D.

Safe place to discuss troubled feelings

Leafing through The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump (2017), Dalrymple comes across a chapter titled ‘Trump anxiety disorder: the Trump effect on the mental health of half the nation and special populations’, by Jennifer Contarino Panning, Psy.D. Panning explains that her experience derives from psychotherapy ‘clients’ in Evanston, Illinois,

a suburban, liberal, higher-socioeconomic status, and educated suburb . . . a college town, home to Northwestern University, with much of its sixty-five thousand residents comprising professionals who work at Northwestern . . . Most notably, the clients who came in the day after the election were still in disbelief. As their therapist, I concentrated on validating, normalizing and maintaining a safe place for them to discuss their troubled feelings. We also discussed basic self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, connecting with friends and family, and limiting consumption of election news stories.

Importance of bowel regulation

The liberal élite exposed: the book inadvertently helps to explain the rise of Trumpism

Dalrymple notes that if his grandmother were still alive,

she would have stressed the importance of keeping the bowels regular too, preferably by a weekly dose of castor oil.

In the trenches

Panning says that her work

helped me not to feel as helpless; being ‘in the trenches’ with clients was a way to feel productive.

Dalrymple comments:

In the trenches! And these people dare to accuse Mr Trump of not being able to distinguish paranoid fantasy from reality!

In another article in the book,

a therapist draws a comparison between a woman abused by a jealous and violent partner and the population of the United States and Mr Trump. She means her analogy to be taken seriously and almost literally, not merely metaphorically. She seems not to realise how demeaning and insulting this is both to the population (particularly those actually abused by their partners) and the country’s traditions and history.

Rise of Trumpism

The book, says Dalrymple,

inadvertently helps to explain the rise of Trumpism. With a liberal élite like this, is it any wonder that a man should come forward who thinks that an offence given it is a blow struck for liberty and good sense? This book gives the liberal élite away.

Why intelligent Americans voted for Trump

They did so, writes Dalrymple,

because they preferred his policy prescriptions to those of his opponent; and to a degree far from universal among modern politicians, he has put, or tried to put, many of his those prescriptions into practice.

Moreover, says Dalrymple, Trump’s policies are rational:

  • it is rational for a country to seek control of who comes into it
  • it is rational for a country to impose an economically advantageous tax régime
  • it is rational for a country to abandon administrative obstacles to progress

Elaborated bilge, which no amount of mathematics can dispel

According to the New Scientist magazine, two of the signs of the collapse of civilisation are the election of Donald Trump and the vote on Brexit. Thus, writes Dalrymple, one of the things that stands between us and the collapse of civilisation ‘is the European Parliament and the European Commission. I thought I was pessimistic, but this takes pessimism to a stage well beyond even mine. If one of the only things standing between us and the new Dark Ages is the European Commission, then all I can say is that those new Dark Ages will be very dark indeed.’

The merit of Trump’s characterisation of certain foreign countries

Dalrymple writes that the American president succeeded with his remarks in

exposing a contradiction in the minds of his opponents.

Those who objected to his language

were inclined also to object to his proposal to return migrants from those countries to their countries of origin on the grounds that—well, that those countries were as Mr Trump said they were, and that it would therefore be cruel and inhumane to return them there.