“At no other time in U.S. history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president.” ~Bandy X. Lee, M.D., M.Div.
Bandy X. Lee, M.D., M.Div., a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine, published an enlightening article on Friday, warning that “Medicine is an equalizer, and the president may find that he cannot outrun his own condition.”
The article, published by NBC News, offers the following chilling introduction:
Trump’s temperament has always been a big part of his political brand. Depending on who you ask, he is either refreshingly frank or shockingly unpresidential. But increasingly, critics of the president have gone from criticizing his rhetoric to worrying about his mental fitness for office. His critics now include mental health professionals after several news stories, as well as the president’s own tweets, revealed Trump continues to believe in several thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories.
At no other time in U.S. history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president. This is not because he is an unusual person — his presentation is almost typical for a forensic psychiatrist like myself whose patients are mostly violence offenders — but it is highly unusual to find such a person in the office of presidency. For the U.S., it may be unprecedented; for many parts of the world where this has happened before, the outcome has been uniformly devastating.
A group of us put our concerns into a book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”
Noting that Trump’s mental deterioration affects “pretty much all of us,” Lee goes on to discuss concerns regarding Trump’s mental health.
In one passage, Lee draws a connection between Mueller’s investigation and Trump, writing that:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is not just a matter of criminal indictments; as Trump feels increasingly walled in, his mental stability is likely to suffer and hence also public safety.
Trump has shown marked signs of impairment and psychological disability under ordinary circumstances, hardly able to cope with basic criticism or unflattering news. Presumably, additional stressors will make his condition worse. So far the signs have been almost too predictable.
Lee also goes into detail regarding Trump’s behaviors which “have raised red flags” within the medical community to include:
- verbal aggressiveness
- boasting about sexual assaults
- inciting violence in others
- an attraction to violence and powerful weapons
- the taunting of hostile nations with nuclear power.
He goes on to list “Specific traits that are highly associated with violence:
- a loose grip on reality and poor understanding of consequences
- a lack of empathy and belligerence toward others
- rage reactions and a constant need to demonstrate power
Lee concluded his article, writing that:
As has been made clear by his actions repeatedly, our current president believes that he is special: he is free to obstruct justice when deems it necessary, he can lie without consequences, he does not need to worry about potential consequences. But medicine is an equalizer, and the president may find soon that he cannot outrun his own condition.
Lee’s article and associated conclusions are even more concerning in light of recent questions regarding Trump’s appearing to slur his speech during a public speech on Wednesday, 06 December 2017.
Trump will have a physical exam early next year and will make the results public, the White House said Thursday, a day after the president appeared to slur his words in a public address.
Near the end of his policy remarks Wednesday on Israel, Trump, 71, began having difficulty with words that included the letter “s,” voicing some of them as “sh.” He ended by saying what sounded like “and God bless the United Shtesh.”
And concerns regarding Trump’s mental health are nothing new. In November 2015, Vanity Fair published an article questioning Trump’s mental health entitled: “Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!“
In February 2017 a group of 37 psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals published a letter to the editors of The New York Times warning that “Trump’s speech and actions make him incapable of serving safely as president.”
Asking the question: “Is America today in need of an unprecedented constitutional intervention?” George W. Bush’s ethics attorney, Richard Painter, and clinical psychologist, Leanne Watt discussed the 25th Amendment and Trump’s mental health matters in opinion piece for NBC News published in October 2017.
After more discussion regarding the intricacies of diagnosis of a sitting president, Painter and Watt wrote:
Many clinicians have already laid out their own concerns about the president’s psychological health. Nearly 800 mental health professionals have joined a coalition asserting that they are so alarmed by Trump’s mental health that they feel a duty to warn the public. An online petition, intended for mental health professionals who believe the president is unfit to serve, has been signed by roughly 62,000 people.
Painter and Watts concluded their article, explaining the possible need for preemptive action regarding the mental health of the president, writing:
At this juncture, waiting for unfitness to manifest beyond the types of observable and highly predictive behavior patterns studied by psychiatrists and psychologists is, we believe, naïve. Though remote, we cannot rule out the possibility that a president in a downward mental health spiral could destroy important global partnerships, alter centuries-old alliances and leave the United States vulnerable to terror attacks or war.
The 25th Amendment was created so that those closest to the president could respond in the event of a physical or psychological crisis. In turn, it is the duty of these individuals to be vigilant and act in the best interests of both the president and the citizens who rely on him — because responding to danger from within is as crucial to this nation’s survival as responding to danger from without.
No one knows what the future holds for Trump; however, medical professionals are keeping watch.