Sep 01

#Unfit (The Psychology of Donald Trump): New Film

A significant part of the following official statement on behalf of Dan Partland‘s new movie #Unfit is not true: “For the first time, mental health professionals go on the record, in an eye–opening, science–based assessment of the behavior and stability of Donald J. Trump.”

This is not the first time at all. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have gone on the record in such places, for instance, as the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, published in 2017. (See these previous posts.) Moreover, its editor, Bandy X. Lee, has been continuously outspoken on Twitter and in interviews.

That being said, many may prefer video to reading, and for that #Unfit may be a chance for some to better understand Trump’s psychology. As of today, it’s available on demand. Click this link for ways you can find it. You can then decide for yourselves if it’s a worthy endeavor.

Below is the trailer, followed by advance-review excerpts:

Selected Review Excerpts

Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter:

The diagnosis is in, at least according to the estimable gallery of mental health professionals, and members of The Duty to Warn Coalition, who are seen in Dan Partland’s documentary: President Donald Trump suffers from a condition known as malignant narcissism, the components of which are narcissism, paranoia, anti-social personality disorder and sadism.

The shrinks participating in the documentary are technically violating what’s known as “The Goldwater Rule,” which states that it is “unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” The ethical standard springs from a 1964 magazine poll in which 1,189 psychiatrists said that then-candidate Barry Goldwater was unfit to be president. Fortunately for the sake of the country, there’s also something known as “The Tarasoff Rule,” inspired by a California Supreme Court ruling that decreed that mental health professionals have a “duty to warn” if their patients might put someone else’s life in danger.

Ironically, it’s not the mental health professionals on display who make the strongest impact, but rather Anthony Scaramucci…”He is not a racist,” Scaramucci affirms. “He treats everybody like shit. He’s an asshole. That’s different from being a racist.”

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times:

“The psychiatric interview is the least reliable method of making a diagnosis,” says the psychologist John Gartner, Ph.D. “The ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ is based on observable behavioral criteria…When you meet with someone, they can lie to you, they can say, ‘I never did that…,’ but if you could actually observe [someone’s] behavior…you’d get a much more reliable indicator of how they behaved.”

Owen Gleiberman, Variety:

Rick Reilly, the veteran sports writer and author of “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,”…asks a question: Why would Trump need to cheat at golf? But cheat he does. According to Reilly, Trump jerry-rigs his golf cart to go twice as fast as any of the others, so that he can, if he chooses, be the first to the tee and more able to manipulate the results. He’ll plant his mark in the wrong place, or deny he hit a ball into a lake. He’s claimed championship wins when he lost, or where he was the only player. And then there’s this: He tried to cheat Tiger Woods. No one says the well-being of America is riding on Trump’s sleaziness on the green. Yet the film suggests that if Trump will cheat at golf, he’ll cheat at anything.

Oct 16

“The Cult of Trump” by Steven Hassan

Like [Jim] Jones and other cult leaders, Trump exhibits features of what psychologist Erich Fromm called “malignant narcissism”—bombastic grandiosity, a bottomless need for praise, lack of empathy, pathological lying, apparent sadism, and paranoia. In short, he fits the stereotypical psychological profile of a cult leader. Author of The Cult of Trump Steven Hassan, in The Daily Beast

Why do so many still bow to Trump despite so much evidence he’s an incompetent and malicious president? Steven Hassan, an expert on cultism, addresses this in his new book called The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control. 

From the publisher’s description:

In The Cult of Trump, mind-control and licensed mental health expert Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult. He specifically details the ways in which people are influenced through an array of social psychology methods and how they become fiercely loyal and obedient. Hassan was a former’ Moonie’ himself, and he draws on his forty years of personal and professional experience studying hypnosis and destructive cults, working as a deprogrammer, and a strategic communications interventionist. He emphasizes why it’s crucial that we recognize ways to identify and protect ourselves and our loved ones.

In a recent article (The Daily Beast) Hassan refers to the cult leaders’ “playbook” and lists some of the mind-control strategies employed by Trump:

These include his grandiose claims, his practice of sowing confusion, his demand for absolute loyalty, his tendency to lie and create alternative ‘facts’ and realities, his shunning and belittling of critics and ex-believers, and his cultivating of an ‘us versus them’  mindset.
Of all these tactics, the ‘us versus them’ mindset is probably one of  the most effective. From the moment you are recruited into a cult, you are made to feel special, part of an ‘inside’ group in opposition to unenlightened, unbelieving, dangerous ‘outsiders.’

Kirkus Reviews adds to this:

…Hassan makes it clear that he is a master of certain rhetorical devices that do not require much intelligence but speak to much practice: the repetition of words and phrases (e.g., ‘I’m a very stable genius, very smart’) that, through ‘a primarily unconscious and memory-based process,’ lead the listener to think that they must be coming from more than one source and are therefore true, ‘crowding out analytical thinking and causing the mind to retreat into a kind of trance.’

How to convince people they’ve fallen prey to such cultism? For one thing, oppositional attitudes don’t help the “deprogramming” process. From the Daily Beast piece:

…(A)ttacking their beliefs is doomed to fail. To help them recover their critical faculties, it is essential to develop  a warm and positive relationship before teaching them about how mind control works. I often do that by showing how it operates in other groups, like the Jonestown cult or Scientology…Ultimately, the goal is to educate and inspire people to regain their capacity for critical thinking, and to free their own minds.

The Cult of Trump has received praise from various mental health professionals, including psychiatrist Thomas G. Gutheil, Harvard Medical School:

…Hassan opens a wide-ranging, thoughtful and well-researched analysis of some of the most puzzling aspects of the current presidency, including the remarkable passivity of fellow Republicans, the gross pandering of many members of the press, the curious avoidance of clear labels that could and should be applied  by the media. Quibbles and speculations about diagnosis do not play central roles. Instead, the current administration is best understood through cult analogies, including factors such as total authoritarianism and intolerance of any questioning or deviation from the ‘playbook.’ This is both a clarifying and a terrifying book. Highly recommended.

Oct 04

“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” (Book)

The only people who aren’t allowed to comment on Donald Trump’s mental health are the people who are most expert and qualified to do it. John D. Gartner, PhD, a contributor to The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, regarding the Goldwater Rule

For those who’ve been looking for extra validation that Trump isn’t fit for office, the time has come via The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy X. Lee, MD, M.Div., and many other contributors from the mental health field including John D. Gartner, Lance Dodes, and Michael Tansey.

Concerned about America’s well-being, these experts believe it’s not only fair to analyze this particular public figure, it’s their obligation.

Bill Moyers (Mother Jones) interviewed the foreword’s author, Robert Jay Lifton, who establishes a belief that the ethically mandated “duty to warn” supercedes the Goldwater Rule. “We have a duty to warn on an individual basis if we are treating someone who may be dangerous to herself or to others—a duty to warn people who are in danger from that person. We feel it’s our duty to warn the country about the danger of this president. ”

It’s not all about the question of mental illness. “It’s really a question of what psychological and other traits render one unfit or dangerous.” More from Lifton:

…I’ve focused on what professionally I call solipsistic reality. Solipsistic reality means that the only reality he’s capable of embracing has to do with his own self and the perception by and protection of his own self. And for a president to be so bound in this isolated solipsistic reality could not be more dangerous for the country and for the world. In that sense, he does what psychotics do. Psychotics engage in, or frequently engage in a view of reality based only on the self. He’s not psychotic, but I think ultimately this solipsistic reality will be the source of his removal from the presidency.


Selected Quotes from The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

In Donald Trump, we have a frightening Venn diagram consisting of three circles: the first is extreme present hedonism; the second, narcissism; and the third, bullying behavior. These three circles overlap in the middle to create an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of tyrant, complete with family members sitting at his proverbial “ruling table.” Like a fledgling dictator, he plants psychological seeds of treachery in sections of our population that reinforce already negative attitudes.

Power not only corrupts but also magnifies existing psychopathologies, even as it creates new ones. Fostered by the flattery of underlings and the chants of crowds, a political leader’s grandiosity may morph into grotesque delusions of grandeur. Sociopathic traits may be amplified as the leader discovers that he can violate the norms of civil society and even commit crimes with impunity. And the leader who rules through fear, lies, and betrayal may become increasingly isolated and paranoid, as the loyalty of even his closest confidants must forever be suspect.

The successful sociopath’s predatory “empathy” reflects a definite perceptive acumen, making him a genius at manipulation. When this works, it produces a disastrous trust in him. Yet, like the tiger, he is unconcerned about the welfare of his target.