Brain tumors, mental illness: Way back in 1966, Charles Whitman invented a cultural practice.
After murdering his wife and his mother, he went to the 28th floor of the Texas Tower at the University of Texas. He fired at passers-by for 96 minutes, killing eleven and wounding thirty-one before being shot and killed by police.
At the time, this was a shocking new practice. We don't recall ever hearing about his brain tumor, although it's possible that we did.
We heard his tumor mentioned this week, and so we looked it up. Last year, Eva Frederick reviewed the topic for The Daily Texan. Here's how her report began:
FREDERICK (7/30/16): Smart, strong, talented and popular, the young Charles Whitman seemed, outwardly, like a poster child for the “all-American boy” stereotype.Sure enough! Whitman did have a substantial brain tumor. For an earlier report in the Atlantic, you can just click here.
But as the sandy-haired boy grew up into a tall, athletic ex-Marine, beneath his mop of blond hair, something else was also growing. A brain tumor, nestled between his thalamus, hypothalamus and amygdala, developed quietly to the size of a pecan.
During his 25th year, Whitman began to complain of headaches, a severe, persistent pain that he later described as “tremendous.” He wrote increasingly troubled journal entries detailing his mental state: “Recently (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.” He paid a visit to the campus mental health center complaining of violent impulses.
Then, one sweltering August day in 1966, Whitman did something no one expected: He climbed to the top of the UT tower with a sawed-off shotgun, and began shooting. His 96-minute reign of terror killed 13 people on campus and injured over 30, and only ended when he was killed by Austin police.
Whitman’s suicide note requested an autopsy to examine his brain, because he was convinced it would show some “visible physical disorder.”
Did Whitman's tumor explain, or help explain, his murderous rampage that day? Apparently, different experts have expressed different views.
By now, though, murderous mass shootings have become a familiar cultural norm. Presumably, it's possible that Stephen Paddock suffered from some sort of organic disorder, or more generally from some other sort of "mental illness."
There's someone else who may be suffering from some sort of "mental illness." That would be President Donald J. Trump.
Yesterday, he behaved in typically peculiar ways during his visit to Puerto Rico. This morning, Joe and Mika acted out concerning this conduct, in their own typically histrionic way.
It's time for this entertainment product to stop. Back in 2015, Joe and Mika spent a substantial chunk of time normalizing Candidate Trump. By now, they've noticed that their former friend routinely behaves in disordered ways.
Earth to Joe and Mika:
Duh! It's no longer surprising when Donald J. Trump behaves in peculiar ways. Guess what, kids? It's highly likely that he is "mentally ill" in some way. He may be suffering from some form of dementia.
Who knows? He may even have a tumor himself!
Earth to Joe and Mika:
It's time to stop rehearsing your state of anger and shock every time Donald J. Trump behaves in peculiar ways. Instead, it's time to have a grown-up discussion about the state of this disordered man, who you helped place in office.
Watching Morning Joe, it seems that Mika wants to discuss this topic, but her corporate bosses won't permit it. Unfortunately, if you've read her three (3) memoirs, you probably understand this:
There's no chance that Mika will ever jeopardize a financially lucrative position like the one she currently holds. Instead, she and Joe will go through their song-and-dance again and again and again and again when Donald J. Trump misbehaves.
In fairness, they produce a great entertainment product! They're also lining their pockets with this tiresome "Groundhog Day" game.
Donald J. Trump seems to be disordered, unwell. It's time this pair of corporate hustlers stopped hinting about this possibility and stated discussing this fact.
It seems their owners don't want them to do it. We can reliably tell you this:
On cable TV, owners rule!
As far as I know, Trump's "peculiar behavior" has been limited to peculiar words. His actions as President have been normal.ReplyDelete
His actions? Did you watch that horse's ass display in PR yesterday? A national embarrassment. No redeeming features whatsoever.Delete
Your version of leadership. Get a bunch of people to sit around and act like a horse's ass, talk about what a great job your doing and then demand everyone else kisses your ass. Then throw paper towels at starving people.
Here are some other abnormal behaviors:Delete
1. Tweeting at all hours
3. Obsessive TV watching
5. Compulsive lying
6. Hand crushing, jerking, hugging during greetings
7. Rages in which he is out of control and demeans those around him
8. Emotional dependence on Ivanka
9. Inability to stay overnight in a place that is not his "home"
10. Inability to make decisions without calling numerous friends outside his job
11. Inability to follow a conversation, read more than bullet items, listen to a speech given by another person, without becoming bored, tired or restless
12. Lack of empathy as evidenced by incongruous facial expressions, language and actions (avoidance of someone who is in need, someone bleeding or sick)
13. Inability to keep from saying something inappropriate even when he knows it shouldn't be said.
14. Inability to keep from doing something inappropriate (e.g. pussygrabbing) -- lack of impulse control, such as telling Russians secrets to show off.
15. Unwillingness to walk instead of using a golf cart everywhere.
Somerby writes as if he has never had a job with a boss. People everywhere do what their bosses tell them to do in return for pay. It is how normal people survive and pay their bills.ReplyDelete
Joe and Mika have no special responsibility for pointing out the mental illness (if that is true) of our president. That resides with congress. If Somerby were complaining because our elected officials are not doing their job, he would have a point. Joe and Mika, not so much.
I don't believe Trump is mentally ill. There are some additional components to mental illness besides bizarre behavior. One is ability to function in daily life. Another is degree of distress (anxiety, unhappiness) experienced by the mentally ill person. Yet another is inability to conform one's actions to the expectations of society.
Trump just doesn't fail those latter criteria. He dresses himself, performs the routines of his day, fulfills the expectations of his job, and doesn't seem to be dysfunctional to a degree that would warrant considering him mentally ill. His rages are not normal, but he doesn't seem upset by them -- he may be enjoying himself or manipulating others when he displays them. No one around him is expressing concern and he is not being arrested (as one would be for walking naked down Pennsylvania Ave for example).
Somerby is unqualified to diagnose Trump. A professional wouldn't do it with meeting and assessing him. Failing that, calling him mentally ill is just name-calling in a way that contributes to the stigmatization of those who are mentally ill.
Personally, I believe Trump is a sociopath and a crook who is using and being used by others for political and financial purposes. He should be held accountable for his actions, not excused by mental illness, as Somerby wants to do.
But the last persons on earth who should be diagnosing Trump as mentally ill are Mika and Joe, regardless of the size of their salaries.
I think TDH, and anyone else, who keeps speculating that Trump is "mentally ill" are wrong. If he was mentally ill, he would not be able to function in the complex job he has. He is awful, though.Delete
Sociopathy/psychopathy is a personality disorder.Delete
Hi imp, it is only a disorder if it places a person in conflict with the demands of society. There are many people who have sociopathic personalities who do not have a disorder, just as there are narcissistic people who don't rise to the level of disorder, or people with OCD tendencies who have adjusted so that these do not impair their functioning or cause them problems in living. A disorder needs to interfere with life in some way or cause a person distress, or it is not a disorder. This is part of the DSM. All people can be placed in one or more categories with respect to personality characteristics. For example, many surgeons are psychopaths. For them, their lack of empathy is an advantage instead of a liability. You wouldn't call them disordered.Delete
What a clear and insightful comment. Thank you for that.Delete
Is Somerby suggesting that Trump might take a gun to the top of a tower?ReplyDelete
The location of the tumor matters. McCain has a tumor but is not violent. No tumors were found in most of the mass or serial killers. Whitman is an exception. However, nearly 100% engaged in domestic violence. Why doesn't Somerby want to discuss that predictor? Is he untroubled by Trump's behavior with women?
"There's someone else who may be suffering from some sort of "mental illness." That would be President Donald J. Trump."ReplyDelete
Yes. Or Bob Somerby, who's certainly presenting himself as more than slightly oddball fella.
Not to mention about four fifth of the commenters here, routinely behaving as frenzied lunatics.
Yes indeed, too many weirdos these days. Any more deep thoughts, Bob?
Do you think anyone here is persuaded by your bullshit? Neither Bob nor his readers are convinced by it. I would suggest you go fuck yourself. A far better use of your and our time.Delete
Mao, Trump might not be mentally ill, but I suspect you are.Delete
Ouch! If acma herself suspects I'm mentally ill, then I'm in real trouble.Delete
This is definitely the most devastating put-down I've ever seen. You are sooo talented.
I think Mao Cheng Ji is someone who is a shut in, or, has some kind of chronic illness that prevents him (and I am assuming it is a him) from going out in the wider world and interacting socially. That is why, I believe, he is wasting all his time trolling on this (unfortunately) little read blog. The Japanese have a term for someone like him: Hikikomori . I hope he can get the help he needs to improve his social situation.Delete
There is an addictive quality to these online groups that draws in people who are not shut-ins too, people who may have other social outlets and perhaps even jobs.Delete
I would respectfully suggest that hardindr's diagnosis of Mao, never having met him, of course, is at least as likely to fit the roughly 4/5ths of the commenters here (to borrow Mao's number for lack of a better one) who periodically seem to be demonstrably as crazy as anyone else might be. I don't know Mao myself, of course. But at least he says interesting things about the topics he addresses. "Troll" (a term I hate) or no troll, I wish there were more like him among the other commenters on this site, those whom he routinely reduces to crude name calling that would be embarrassing in a child but is sickening in ostensible adults.Delete
Exceptionalism has its psychic price. We are told we are such an exceptional country and people, but why? We are rich and unhappy. We are so, so fat and plastered with tattoos. We are ugly. It reflects our inside. Our spirit. Or lack of it. It reflects our pain and confusion. All our material possessions are supposed bring us happiness but we are miserable! We are totally empty spiritually. We are massive drug addicts. We are literally overdosing en masse. We are killing each other with guns all the time. Our country is a total fucking mess.Delete
(Because our insides are a mess.) WORD!Delete
Unknown, I find 4/5 of the commenters here to be interesting and informative, and the other 1/5, represented by you, Mao, and the anti-Semitic guy to be shallow, illogical, and ill-informed, if not downright despicable. If you have such a problem with the comments, then by all means, why not stop reading them? Mao is dishonest, and likes to hurl invectives, in case you hadn't noticed. The fact that you find him praiseworthy is quite telling. You are on a liberal site, but on at least one occasion you told me to stop reading this blog and find some liberal safe space. So congrats on the hypocrisy.Delete
The media have been discussing the idea that Trump is lying (not far-fetched, in my opinion), but Somerby will have none of that. He chides them for NOT discussing the possibility of Trump's mental illness. How in the world is an allegation of mental illness any more justifiable than an allegation of lying? Wouldn't the press still be engaging in speculation, something I thought Somerby dislikes? Would this not continue to feed the narrative that the msm is biased against Trump? I thought the press were supposed to stick with facts? Besides, THINKING someone is mentally ill and DIAGNOSING it are two completely different things. I would invite Somerby to read that "stupid old book" (Somerby's words) "The Art of The Deal", or just study Trump's behavior forReplyDelete
the past 40 years, and see if he sees a pattern there, a penchant for lying...very conscious lying.
And I agree with anonymous 3:25pm: it's the Congress that ultimately has to monitor and correct the president's behavior.
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