"He's not like other human beings!"


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.


  1. "He is a severe sociopath, and his willingness to see others suffer and die pushes him into the realm of a psychopath. "

    Meh. This isn't even half of what The Commander really is, dear Bob.

    We have it on good authority that he eats cute puppies and kittens for breakfast every morning. Mmm-mm good!

    ...and thanks for the laughs, dear Bob.

    1. ma0 ma0 * ,!, ,!,

    2. I have it on good authority that he gave the Establishment elites a HUGE tax break, and Republican voters who the corporate-owned Right-wing media (AKA the media) pretend are economically anxious, but who only really give a shit about bigotry and white supremacy, gave Trump a standing ovation.

    3. Just a quick note to remind Mao that Trump is the best thing to happen to Establishment elites in decades.

  2. The incessant and deranged hysterics over Mr. Trump are familiar to everyone who has ever had a borderline girlfriend. That is the personality and mentality afflicting every last Democrat and it’s fascinating to watch them sink deeper and deeper into their disordered hell.
    Trump’s second term is going even better than his first considering last week’s rulings, Biden’s collapse, and the latest hilarity involving Cassy Smollett.

    1. "...personality and mentality..."

      Meh. They're simply brain-dead.

      ...in the morning of 11/09/2016 they -- every one of of them -- experienced a spontaneous head explosion. Which instantly turned them into zombies, extremely primitive brain-dead creatures with one single notion inside their hopelessly damaged heads: Orange Man Bad.

    2. Quick reminder that Right-wing snowflakes tried to overthrow the United States Capitol because black peoples votes were counted in the 2020 Presidential Election.

    3. 2;58,
      Nice try, pretending you're a Republican voter who should be scorned by society, but you forgot to celebrate more women dying during pregnancy, which was the tell you aren't really a Republican voter.

    4. If you are winding up with hysterical borderline girlfriends, you might question why you attract such people?

    5. Someone dies in every abortion.

    6. It does seem deranged that Trump would lead an attack on our own Capitol. It's always obviously true, my sad, lame 2:58.

  3. The good news is Kimberly Guilfoyle is totally normal.

  4. Pity, but also appropriate action. What can one say about a nation that first elects, and then allows itself to be governed by, such an obviously impaired person? That it is itself obviously impaired? No clear way around that.

    1. I don't think you can get around it. It feels like a hopeless dread. So all that you can say is, "well, somebody cared enough to feel there way through darkness and thiat's why I'm here." And then decide if you feel obligated to do it for someone else.

  5. How can one read the last 2 comments (David in Cal @3:31 PM and Anonymous @3:39 PM) and not suspect TDH of ghostwriting them to underscore the theme of this post?

  6. "For the record, there's more than one psychiatrist in the world, and more than one mental health expert."

    The problem is not that different psychiatrists might disagree, it is that Trump has never sat for these psychiatrists to be evaluated using professional diagnostic techniques. Psychiatry is part of medicine. You wouldn't expect someone to diagnose a physical disorder without doing lab tests and scans (depending on the type of injury or disease). Why would anyone, including Somerby, expect a psychiatrist to produce a diagnosis of Trump without using any of the professional tools at their disposal?

    Trump IS unfit to be president, but by virtue of lack of experience and training. He has never put in a full work day and has no background or interest in how government works, how politics work, or the history of our nation. He doesn't have to be mentally ill to be incompetent.

    Somerby's enthusiasm for attaching a mental health label to Trump, his notion that mental illness might excuse his crimes, displays Somerby's own ignorance about such things. This return, over and over, to this topic of Trump's mental health is both frustrating and boring. Dodes should know better than to have used his profession for partisan purposes when he has had no opportunity to properly diagnose Trump -- and Somerby would know better than to keep pushing this idea, if he ever read his comments or anything else on the topic than the stuff he agrees with.

    If Trump is mentally ill, then so is Melania, Ivanka, Jared, and all of Trump's close staff and his supporters in Congress, and the vast majority of those who voted for him. No one is in the business of calling an entire political party deranged, in a medical sense. So Somerby needs to stop this shit.

  7. In our society, we judge people by their actions and when they violate the law, we try them and put them in jail. It doesn't matter how "special" they are, nor does it matter than some third person calls them evil. They are tried based on what they have done.

    That is what will happen to Trump, whether he has a lot of money and throws plates against the wall, or not.

  8. Are you trying to see whether Dr. Dodes will diagnose you as "special" too?

  9. Don't be an idiot, David. Have there been hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths from covid since Biden took over? Do you equate higher gas prices with death? Thousands of Americans were not abandoned in Afghanistan. Murder rates escalated during Trump's term, not because of Biden. Most of these problems have occurred worldwide due to covid, not because of Biden. Russia and Putin are responsible for the invasion of the Ukraine.

    Results need to be accurately described, not a repetition of conservative talking points, mostly lies.

  10. "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."

    Being far from a mental health expert, Somerby has no idea what to recommend for Trump and his allies. What would Dr. Dodes recommend? A padded cell perhaps? A prescription and 24 hr supervision? Maybe some group therapy for all those Others? Certainly not the remedies Somerby suggests.

  11. "We must be friends, Lincoln once said. We see no clear way around that."

    Lincoln wasn't a dictator last time I checked. That means we are still free to decide who to befriend and who to call names such as "borderline" and "sociopath."

  12. David, if only they could have gotten to VP Pence and hung him on the steps of the Capitol, we could have avoided all those unpleasant items you mention. I really never expected President Biden to force Putin to invade the Ukraine. What is Donald J Chickenshit's solution for that, by the way?

  13. Pity and scorn, not thoughts and prayers, for bigoted "Others" (ie. All of them, Katie).

  14. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    A Republican voter, who isn't a bigot.
    So no one's at the door?

  15. No clear way around. But evidently, no shortage of ways to back up.

  16. Unable to cope with yesterday's events, Bob goes over to rake over the far left.

  17. Yesterday was the worst day for Democrats since last Friday.

  18. Sorry, I cannot be friends with people who ignore facts and reality, in order to make a fascist president. I cannot be friends with people who do not believe in democracy.