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Growing concern over Trump’s mental condition

Their letter prompted another, from Dr Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical College, who happens to be the expert psychiatrist who defined narcissistic personality disorder.

He rebuked the authors, arguing that to claim that Trump is mentally ill is an insult to those who truly are. But he also had this to say – Trump may be a “world-class narcissist”.

But the debate has taken off.  Another psychologist weighed in last month, telling US News and World Report that Trump displays a malignant narcissism, characterised by grandiosity, sadism and anti-social behaviour.

trump-how-badAmericans take an anxious journey to the centre of Donald Trump’s mind, The Age,Paul McGeough, 20 Feb 17  Washington: Flip references by reporters – mine included – to Donald Trump not taking his meds have been criticised as offensive to the mentally ill. But Trump’s unhinged behaviour, as in his erratic press conference on Thursday, ensures that the President’s mental state is the stuff of debate.

Rick Wilson, a Republican Party strategist and Trump critic, saw the Thursday press conference as a turning point – instead of a divide between left and right, the split he sees in America is between those who saw the spectacle as a “success” and those who are “terrified” for the future of the country.

“[His press conference] could have been evidence in a mental competency hearing,” he told The Washington Post. “It was really pretty disturbing and terrifying to watch this guy and think: ‘What happens when the stakes are higher?’”

On Saturday, The New York Times‘ conservative columnist David Brooks wrote in similar language about the press conference: “President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.”

It’s not just the commentariat in the “fake press”, on which Trump has upped the ante, denouncing them as “the enemy of the American people”. Mental health professionals are weighing in.

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times last week, 35 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers acknowledged they were in breach of professional rules against evaluating public figures, but to remain silent, they wrote, denied journalists and members of Congress the value of their expertise at this critical time.

Here’s their diagnosis: “Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behaviour suggest a profound inability to empathise. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them (journalists, scientists).

“In a powerful leader, these attacks are likely to increase, as his personal myth of greatness appears to be confirmed. We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.”

Their letter prompted another, from Dr Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical College, who happens to be the expert psychiatrist who defined narcissistic personality disorder.

He rebuked the authors, arguing that to claim that Trump is mentally ill is an insult to those who truly are. But he also had this to say – Trump may be a “world-class narcissist”.

But the debate has taken off.  Another psychologist weighed in last month, telling US News and World Report that Trump displays a malignant narcissism, characterised by grandiosity, sadism and anti-social behaviour.

Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio observes: “He lives inside his head, where he runs the same continuous loop of conflict with people he turns into enemies for the purposes of his psychodrama.”

The press conference was Trump unleashed. As though he couldn’t help himself, he seized the lectern at the end of a first chaotic month that had prompted this assessment from General Tony Thomas, head of the military’s Special Operations Command: “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon, because we’re a nation at war.”

In casting aside the usual filters and talking heads such as Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, Trump signalled an attempted reset. After weeks of leaks, he is determined to rewrite the agenda – he was doing it again at a Boeing factory in South Carolina on Friday and at a campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday.

Instead of being confronted by pesky, fake journalists, Trump was hungry for the adoring fans who turned out to both events, described by presidential historian Timothy Naftali as “an attempt to inject some adrenaline into his administration and shake a perception of loserdom“.

At the Florida bash, Trump basked in the glow of a 9000-strong crowd, forgetting his plummeting polls as he re-ran a string of well-worn campaign promises and whacked the media again before reaching his crescendo.

After serial exaggerations and misrepresentations of all that his administration has achieved, or not, he declared: “It’s a new day in America – this will be change for the ages, change like never before.”

But back in the real world, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was probably earning a presidential rebuke by acknowledging Trump’s frustration with media reporting, as she explained the Florida gig was likely to be the first to put Trump out front more often.

“There’s definitely frustration that the media makes up stories and reports things that aren’t true,” she told the Post. The Florida rally, she said, was an attempt “for the President to speak directly to the American people and not have his message filtered through a biased media.”………

As he basked in the limelight at Boeing on Friday, Associated Press dropped an exclusive – an internal administration document outlining a plan for the National Guard to be drafted to round up undocumented migrants. Despite its conformity with all that Trump said in the election campaign, the White House claimed it had been discarded.

Also on Friday, Trump hit a new low in opinion polls – confirming his standing as the least popular new president in American history, Gallup found that just 38 per cent of Americans approve his performance, against 56 per cent who disapprove.

Amidst a constant sense of crisis, two emerging patterns work against Trump – the Republican establishment figures who might save his administration are increasingly reluctant to work for him and he is being hemmed in by the checks and balances of the American democratic process.

Also working against him is the toxic brew he has concocted in the White House – factions divided by ideology and new hires defeated by their youth and inexperience.

After the debacle of appointing a national security adviser who proved incapable of surviving in the job for a month, Trump is desperately seeking for a replacement…….

Trump and those around him are paranoid about loyalty. In the last week, the State Department sacked six senior career staffers who were deemed suspect. And faction wars continue with gusto…….. http://www.theage.com.au/world/americans-take-an-anxious-journey-to-the-centre-of-donald-trumps-mind-20170219-gugc6j.html

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February 20, 2017 - Posted by | politics, USA

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