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More about ‘Trump Contagion’
‘Business as Usual’ is Leading Us Down a Death Spiral
Our country and our world are in a very serious situation with unprecedented multiple dangers, potentially even terminal dangers. I have been repeating that our country is suffering from “Trump Contagion”—a phrase I have been using to describe the emotional contagion resulting from Donald Trump, all the more untamed when true mental symptoms are involved. Our society’s failure to address this problem as a mental health crisis but to substitute other means—e.g., political—has been analogous to applying Band-Aids where major surgery is needed.
There is a reason I and my fellow mental health professionals have been calling Donald Trump a public mental health emergency. This crisis did not start with Trump and will not end with him—but he is the vehicle for existing pathologies growing from negligible to existentially-threatening for society, from Covid-19 deaths potentially being zero (had he not dismantled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to surpassing 20 million around the world, and from political institutions functioning normally to not at all. These psychological influences cannot be ignored, for, unlike physical disorders, mental ones are not confined to individuals.
The great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, said: “it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
This is the reason for which I have said that, politically, economically, militarily, and morally, we may be in a kind of Death Spiral, which few in the know dare talk about and even fewer understand. This is what I and my colleagues warned would result if a severely mentally-impaired president were not intervened with and not held accountable in time.
What we are currently facing is a worldwide crisis where the empowered political leadership, further infected by Trump Contagion, is not only unable to deal with today’s increasingly dangerous geopolitical, climatic, and health situations but is actively fueling the problems. As a result, quite literally, Doomsday is looming with potentially unprecedented violence, suffering, and death. That is why I now use the term Death Spiral—but not without hope.
Recovery in medicine is dependent on the interventions—preferably the body’s own resistance—overcoming the disease. We cannot be in denial of the kind and extent of intervention that is necessary.
We need mental health principles to understand the connection between dangerous leaders and the existential problems we face in order to be able to apply the correct scope and sort of intervention. Quite frankly, it is difficult to watch the nation flail blindly in its attempts to shield itself from Donald Trump and yet fail, again and again, because lay pundits continue to misinterpret him and his followers in normal, “political” terms.
This is where mental health experts have a duty to share their special knowledge, as a part of their professional duty to protect the public. Yet, in the same manner that fictions arising from Donald Trump on Covid-19 (with his eyes on reelection) translated into hundreds of thousands more deaths than necessary—fictions coming from the American Psychiatric Association (with its eyes on federal funding), when it declared conscientious professionals attempting to fulfill their duty “unethical”, resulted in the normalization of Trump that may have caused more deaths and destruction than we can begin to fathom. Certainly, the decline and interruption of a 147-year experiment in democracy would not have occurred without the APA’s critical “help” in keeping him in the presidency to the end of his term.
We with mental health expertise were the first to warn the public, the media, and government officials about the true extents of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, from the very beginning—and we have not been wrong at any time since—because we had the critical knowledge to do so. Over fifty members of the U.S. Congress invited us to meet with them over the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, again until the APA spread its fiction that we were not allowed to do so—even though the APA’s own ethics code encourages such consultations, and the drafter of the Amendment himself said the Amendment intended “medical data” to drive a president’s removal!
We can see how, through this disinformation, the democratic institutions and traditions of our country have been undermined exponentially since Donald Trump. A kind of cult figure that depends on the domination of minds is intent on getting his way, even as he exploits and preys upon those he falsely claims he will “Make Great Again” (abusing the psychology that, the more desperate one is to avoid the pain of admitting that one has been bamboozled, the more one will cling to one’s defrauder!).
The nation’s failure to hold Donald Trump accountable for either his mental pathology or his criminality is, then, seen as a sign of success. Those with his psychology do not stop within reasonable limits—but a lack of limits morphs into grotesque delusions of grandeur and fantasies of impunity, ready to unleash bigger and bolder transgressions against government, media, and life itself.
CNN’s acquiescence in offering him a town hall is not only cowardly but cynical and opportunistic, when exposure alone is bound to cause another wave of Trump Contagion (here is a short interview I just did on this topic: “Trump’s Unfitness for Office on Display as Much of the U.S. Falls into the Grip of Madness”) and “normalizes” his dangers for the rest of the presidential campaign.
The Trump Contagion, when severe, can manifest in a “shared psychosis.” Like many who have applauded and facilitated Donald Trump at critical times—such as Alan Dershowitz—or those who imitate him—such as George Santos—Bill Barr is a seriously Trump-disposed, self-serving, and politically-corrupt former attorney general who is now warning, in an attempt to redeem his image, of a “horror show” if Trump returned to the White House. George Conway, who wrote an entire article on fitness under my guidance but did not cite or share authorship with me, is now calling Trump a “monster”. Mary Trump, who essentially plagiarized an article from us asserts herself as a mental health professional (a degree without a license or experience does not make one a mental health expert) and advances her political views as “expertise”. These kinds of compromises, unfortunately, contribute to our Death Spiral, chip away at our true ability to confront the mental health crisis at hand, and diminish our prospects at recovery.