Living in America circa 2019 is unlike any other time in our nation’s history. Much of the credit for that status belong to the current President of the dis-United States, Donald Trump.
The former real estate manager and reality show kingpin is the most talked about person on this earth, but he’s also the most divisive. Tens of millions of people see Trump and deem him to be a malignant being with no discernible positive qualities. And yet, he was able to garner enough votes to install himself in the White House, from people who see a “strong” individual who “says what's on his mind.”
Trump reigns in a manner and style which guarantee blanket press coverage and constant scrutiny and attention. But all that coverage hasn’t allowed the masses to figure out truly what makes Trump tick…nor has it bridged the gulf of division which separates fathers and daughters, neighbors, co-workers, which has resulted in a society as fractured, arguably, as any American person living now has experienced. It can be argued that the collective mental health of our country is as bad or worse than it’s ever been. That’s where this podcast comes in.
“Shrinking Trump” looks at the fascinating creature who is catalyst for incredible angst and also loyalty bordering on worship, through a different lens—through the filter of mental health.
With the aid and input of mental health professionals, the best and brightest psychiatrists, psychologists and students of psyches, “Shrinking Trump” will work to better understand the dizzying conduct of Donald Trump, decipher why he makes some of the decisions he does, and also collect coping mechanisms to allow us to minimize stress, anger, and other emotions which can serve to undermine our own mental health.
EPISODE NOTES, Episode 1
How did we get here? How did enough of the people make the decision that an oft bankrupted and divorced non-politician should be the leader of the free world? “Shrinking Trump” invites Dr. Bandy Lee, from Yale, to share insights into Donald Trump’s behavior. (Click here to listen on SPOTIFY.)
Lee, age 49, agrees that the media, as a whole, could do a better job of covering Trump, and they would be aided by recognizing that Trump’s thinking patterns are affected by his pathology.
She grew up in NY, Trump appeared on her radar decades ago, and she admits she saw him as a “shady” character. But she realizes more so when she saw him at his rallies, interacting with rooters, that his persona came off as more odious.
The doctor shares that she more fully realized after he was elected that his stint in the White House could in fact result in the country being rendered a more “dangerous” place than it had been. And does she herself feel, as many persons do, to a degree de-stabilized by Trump’s conduct and behavior in that office. Lee says she knows the importance of guarding her own mental health, because being in proximity to aberrance can warp even well meaning people. “There is a part of me that wonders how did our nation get to this, but there’s another part of me that has seen it coming; for a long time, for a couple decades at least I’ve been worried about the worsening of our collective mental health,” Lee says.
Indeed, it isn’t as though Trump and only Trump has flipped a switch and poisoned so many of the masses, and had them excusing and indeed condoning actions that would have been seen as being grounds for swift impeachment and removal if they were perpetrated by someone on the “other team.” We didn't get here overnight, it has been a lengthy journey off course.
So, what about Trump? What is his diagnosis…or can we conclude roughly, with no degree of specificity, that Trump suffers from some sort of mental disorder? The Goldwater rule as set forth by the American Psychiatric Association states that it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they haven’t examined in person, so Lee, who notes that her views are her own, wouldn't be inclined to tell podcast listeners what if anything Trump is certainly suffering from.
Of course, speculation has been rampant. Is he a “malignant narcissist?” Is he a “sociopath?” Lee says that regular folks should seek to educate themselves about all the possible or likely conditions that Trump, were he to be examined thoroughly by a non-biased practitioner, maybe suffers from.
Lee, editor of the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrist and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” says that diagnosing Trump is not as important as many think. Disordered people, quote unquote, have proven to be rock-solid leaders. The current President has shown sides of “several disorders,” she states, and those include his penchant for “verbal violence” and his “endorsement of violence,” rhetorically and in his policy moves. Lacking empathy, his constant need to burnish his power, there are plentiful reasons to have Lee worry about his fitness for the office. “He doesn't seem able to consider consequence,” she tells us, and these “are impairments in his mental capacity.” Lee speaks on seeing cognitive decline in Trump, and offers a laundry list of his verbal slips.
Those not finding Trump appealing are often bewildered as to why their loved ones see the same things they do, or at least have access to that information, and don't hop off the Trump bandwagon. Lee is asked for methods for the bewildered to be able to handle the new reality of de-stabilization, and seeing loved ones, for instance, embrace an administration that has a track record of separating babies from their parents, after the family has crossed into the US to gain asylum. The Yale physician shares that upbringing can affect development, and if attachments are not secured, and an atmosphere of love isn't present, then those in that milieu can grow up into being powerful leaders…and the leadership supplied by people lacking empathy can result in atrocious conditions. “It is a concerning situation, how to deal with it,” and citizens would be better served by less reportage of the day to day soap operatics and more so to underlying issues of mental health, of how society collectively is dealing, or not effectively dealing with being in the wake of a leader who revels in division, in her mind. “We are more stressed in World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis and September 11,” she says, citing a study.
We end on a quest for a positive note. Lee says that she is fulfilling a professional responsibility in seeking to clarify for the regular Joes and Janes how we the people can combat “shared psychosis.”
She says that “the return to normalcy, the return to health” will be mightily impressive, when it is widely recognized that we can change this momentum of instability and intra-familial clashing.