More dangerous than people suspected

If mental health professionals can’t tell us that Trump is mentally unfit to serve, then who can? It’s not as if we don’t need to know. One mental health professional explains:

I am not a political person but a medical professional. Yet because of my field of expertise, I unexpectedly became an academic whistleblower. I have been compelled to blow two whistles: first, by publishing a book to alert the public that Donald Trump was more dangerous than perhaps any president in history, for psychological reasons; and second, on the American Psychiatric Association’s actions that have effectively silenced those of us trying to fulfill our professional responsibility to society as outlined in its own code of ethics.

Politics never interested me previously. In fact, throughout my career when I was consulted on policy issues relating to my area of violence prevention, I strictly refrained from commenting on or getting involved in political matters.

But the dangers of the current U.S. president changed everything. I had to ask myself: If I devoted my career to studying and preventing violence, do I turn away from confronting the greatest potential violence we could ever face? What called me was a medical need, not politics.

This point is related to the point I keep making, which is that much of what we object to in Trump isn’t political but moral and characterological, to coin a word. Even if he had good policies, he would still be a horrifyingly bad human being. (In reality he couldn’t have good policies given his character – he favors policies that harm people with no power. He couldn’t flip that and remain the monster he is. Taking food stamps away from poor people and free school lunches away from poor children is who he is, so he couldn’t do the reverse of that without first turning into a slightly better person. But we can separate the two for the sake of argument.)

Soon after the inauguration, I organized a conference around the ethics of speaking up about a public figure, and from it came a public-service book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” a collection of essays from some of the most prominent psychiatrists and psychologists.

Our message was simple: The president was more dangerous than people suspected, would grow more dangerous with time, and could ultimately become uncontainable. Much of what we predicted in the book has come to pass: Trump’s rhetoric has clearly incited violence, cruel policies against children that could lay the groundwork for future violence, enhancing a culture of violence both domestically and abroad, and the weakening of institutions that might have contained him.

But the American Psychiatric Association still defends the increasingly absurd “Goldwater rule.”

[D]uring the Trump administration, the APA expanded the Goldwater Rule and used this guideline to openly denounce professionals who would speak up as “unethical” and engaging in “armchair psychiatry.” A former APA president even released a video message warning that speaking out might be “political partisanship disguised as patriotism.

Many in the news media have even adopted the APA’s line.

It might be a reasonable rule in the case of a more or less non-warped president, but when it’s a floridly mind-broken one? There’s nothing reasonable about it.

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