WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2022
Dr. Dodes discusses Trump: Over at Salon, Chauncey DeVega had heard just about enough.
In fact, DeVega had heard more than enough! For that reason, he decided to interview Dr, Lance Dodes, a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Very occasionally, Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Dr. Dodes about Donald Trump's mental state over the course of the past several years. DeVega describes Dodes here:
DEVEGA (6/27/22): He was a contributor to the bestselling volume "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President." Dodes belongs to a small and courageous group of mental health professionals who consistently sounded the alarm about Trump, both before and during his presidency, arguing that he should never have been allowed to hold high public office and should have been removed at the earliest opportunity.
For the record, there's more than one psychiatrist in the world, and more than one mental health expert. The fact that Dodes has reached a certain view about Donald J. Trump doesn't mean that his view is scripture, or even that it's accurate.
That said, DeVega's interview highlights the kind of journalism our upper-end mainstream press has refused to engage in. That extends right up to the press corps' reactions to yesterday's testimony concerning Trump's behavior on and before January 6.
Dodes is a highly experienced psychiatric / medical specialist. He has been willing to state his views concerning Donald J. Trump's mental health.
Nothing will ever lead the mainstream press to engage in any such discussion. That said, we thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to show you the type of discussion to which you'll never be exposed.
Is Donald J. Trump severely disordered? In this, their first Q-an-A, DeVega expresses his frustration with the press, and Dr. Dodes discusses Trump:
DEVEGA: I'm angry on behalf of all the mental health professionals who argued that Trump was dangerous and were met with deflections and denials and condemnation. I consistently offered a platform to those mental health professionals who tried to warn the American people and the world, but the mainstream media and political elites largely avoided the issue. Now it's been confirmed that Trump's own Cabinet members viewed him as unstable and discussed removing him.
DODES: I have been frustrated for so many years now, really since 2016. I've said this so many times in various settings, but people don't quite get it. Donald Trump is not like other human beings, and you can't treat him as if he is. The news media refused to accept that. He is a severe sociopath, and his willingness to see others suffer and die pushes him into the realm of a psychopath. He lacks the core of normal empathy, and the ability to appreciate that other people have rights. He is a very sick man. Yet the media and others treated him like an ordinary person.
Dodes isn't the Oracle at Delphi, but he is a high-ranking medical specialist. In his view, Trump is "a severe sociopath" and "a very sick man." He isn't like other human beings, and you can't treat him like he is.
Throughout the interview, DeVega expresses his frustration, somewhat naively, with the press corps' refusal to engage in such discussions. At one point, Dodes says this:
DODES: Very few major institutions in this country spoke up. The worst was the American Psychiatric Association, which should have been leading the effort to help people understand Trump psychologically and the danger he presented. Instead, they actively tried to suppress criticism about Trump's mental health. They threatened to throw people out of their organization if they spoke up. The Goldwater rule never applied to this situation, and was touted to protect the reputation of the APA at the cost of protecting truth, democracy and mental health.
People still don't quite understand the enormous danger from Trump...
In a later exchange, DeVega cites the way our mainstream pundits keep saying they're shocked and surprised by Trump's (quite consistent) behavior. He even alleges "extreme denial" on the part of the press corps itself!
Here's part of that exchange:
DEVEGA: Reporters and commentators repeatedly proclaim that they are shocked that Trump wanted Mike Pence to be killed, and that he actually encouraged his attack force to do such a thing at the Capitol on Jan. 6. What are the psychological processes at play in such extreme denial?
DODES: ...The easiest way to understand Donald Trump is to think of him as a serial killer or a monster. The word "monster" means a creature without empathy, without caring, willing to kill or maim or hurt or destroy anything in its path for its own purposes, a sadistic creature lacking normal human capacities. There's nothing shocking about Trump's behavior when you see him for the fundamentally disordered person that he truly is.
DEVEGA: To be even more specific, when we see pundits and other public voices proclaiming that Trump's conduct was shocking or unimaginable, do they actually believe it? Are they just feigning that response because it's not acceptable to tell the whole truth about this man? Or are they just profoundly immature about reality and so privileged that they have never encountered such people?
DODES: They're ignorant, and I don't say that as an insult. They're literally ignorant of human psychology. If a tiger attacked a person, you would not be shocked. So you have to understand, that's what Trump is. You can't think of him as a regular person because he is vastly different from a normal human being. To say you are shocked by anything he does means you just don't understand how extraordinarily different Trump is from other people. "Evil" is good word to describe him, and once you stop expecting him to be like you or your neighbors or anyone else in your life, then you're not surprised anymore.
Did Trump "want Mike Pence to be killed?" We have no idea. Absent stronger evidence, we wouldn't say that ourselves.
Still, Dodes says that Trump is "fundamentally disordered." Almost everything follows from there.
We say almost everything for the following reason:
We assume that people who are fundamentally disordered didn't choose to be fundamentally disordered. We assume, for example, that sociopaths didn't choose to be disordered in that unfortunate way.
We've always recommended pity for disordered people like Trump. For that reason, we'd be reluctant to mix moral and psychiatric assessments together, as Dodes does in this last statement.
Vastly disordered people may be dangerous and may need to be restrained, but we would recommend sorrow and pity for people are so deranged. For our money, Dr. Dodes may be a bit too "medium hot" to be right for such discussions.
In truth, the mainstream press was never going to discuss the fairly obvious questions raised by Trump's disordered conduct. Even so, we share DeVega's frustration with the way our pundits continue to be "shocked" and "surprised" by Trump's consistent behavior.
Some of them never stop being shocked! Just last evening, there was Anderson Cooper, surprised all over again:
COOPER (6/28/22): Officer Fanone, the president knew there were weapons, the chief of staff knew there were weapons, a lot of folks—seems like a lot of folks in the White House knew that there were weapons there [on January 6].
It's extraordinary. I mean it's still, even now, after all this time, just hearing the testimony say that the president of the United States would knowingly send and encourage a mob of people who that he knew were armed—I mean, maybe I don't know why I still am surprised by this, but I just find it stunning to hear it confirmed time and time again. He knew that they were armed.
Cooper is still surprised by this. For some reason which goes unexplained, he's surprised by this stuff every time!
DeVega is being a bit naive about the press corps' refusal to engage in this type of discussion. That said, the fact that some significant percentage of adult males are diagnosable as sociopaths seems to be part of the basic medical science of the past century.
After their problems have been discussed, we recommend pity for people like Trump. That said, by the rules of the game, you the people aren't even allowed to hear such discussions start.
We aren't even sure that's a bad idea. You know where such efforts would lead.
We recommend pity for Donald J. Trump. We also recommend serious outreach to those in The Other Tribe.
We must be friends, Lincoln once said. We see no clear way around that.