Showing posts with label Duty to Warn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Duty to Warn. Show all posts

June 30, 2023

Dr. Justin Frank, author of "Trump on the Couch" gives us understatement of the decade about Trump's behavior


By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist

Chauncey DeVega once again has provided a form for some of the nation's top mental health professionals to explain in depth the psychopathology of Donald Trump. Today's Salon column is titled on the main page "Digging his hole: Trump can't shut up" and titled in the article itself 

Why Donald Trump can't simply keep quiet — even when facing prison. 

He shares emails from both Justin Frank, MD, the psychoanalyst who wrote "Trump on the Couch" and Lance Dodes, MD, a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. I recommend you reading the short and to the point Franks and Dodes emails in the Chauncey DeVega column.

Whether one is a distinguished mental health professional like Frank or Dodes or a state university clinical social work graduate who, in a past life ran a small community mental health center, and now blogs about Trump's dangerous psychopathology (like me), we find ourself trying to explain behavior so far beyond the normal abnormal it is difficult to avoid coming across as hyperbolic.

I think I can speak for not only Justin Frank and Lance Dodes, but also for Chauncey DeVega who as far as I'm concerned has earned himself an honorary doctorate in clinical psychology (or Trumplogy, if you will) saying that we don't want to sound like we're exaggerating about how pathological Trump is.

DeVega describes his own frustration, which I share:

For those of us, myself included, who have direct experience with sociopaths and other such dangerous people, living through the Age of Trump and trying to warn the American people about the disaster has been and continues to be remarkably frustrating and exhausting. For most of the Age of Trump, people said we had "Trump Derangement Syndrome" when we were just telling an uncomfortable and unpopular truth.
Psychotherapists and well informed non-therapists like DeVega, and notably George Conway, were accused by Trump supporters of suffering from a made-up mental illness, Trump derangement syndrome. 

In fact, way back in 2017 mental health professionals tried to warn about Trump.

Clinical psychologist John Gartner, founder of Duty To Warn, was (as far as I know) the first expert to publicize the rationale for diagnosing Trump as a malignant narcissist. This was way back in 2017 and was published in USA Today: 

Donald Trump's malignant narcissism is toxic

Mental health professionals have a 'duty to warn' about a leader who may be unfit to serve.

The best seller "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" edited by forensic psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee, was also published in 2017. The book had essays from 27 mental health professionals including John Gartner. It described the "clear and present danger" that Trump's psychopathology posed to the "nation and individual well being". Read table of contents here.

I don't think any of the warnings published by experts about Trump since 2017 were hyperbolic. 

I don't think I was stretching it to write in February of 2020 about adding a new diagnosis to the psychiatric manual to cover the highly unusual Trump diagnosis (read here). In fact, I think it was a mistake not to include the diagnosis of malignant narcissism when it was originally defined by Erich Fromm and others.

Click above to read my Daily Kos article

In that story, which I posted on Daily Kos, I cited a Chauncey DeVega interview with Justin Frank: "On a fundamental level, Donald Trump does not believe in America" which used one of the well known photos of Trump hugging the American flag.


While I want what I write in a serious vein to be taken seriously, I admit I am sometimes reduced to blogging snarky commentary and pictures of that flag hugging. I found it too hard for me to resist modifying them:

Top caption is "clinging to flag and anchor about
to sink" and bottom goes with this blog.

Further reading:

The Language of Lies: How Hate Speech Engages Our Neural Wiring to Foster Division


Summary: Researchers analyze the language of dictators and hate groups, uncovering a common use of dehumanizing metaphors to fuel hatred. Such metaphors ‘switch on’ neural pathways in the brain, bypassing higher cognitive reasoning centers and steering focus towards certain ideas.

These mental patterns can become entrenched over time, making it challenging for individuals to revise their views even in the face of contradicting evidence.

The research underscores the potential dangers posed by such language, including the escalation of violence and political instability.

Not an optimistic conclusion:

What can be done?

Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves from the power of lies? According to Danesi, the best thing we can do is to understand the metaphors of the other party, and to examine one’s own metaphors.

However, history and science tells us that it is unlikely to work – research shows that once a lie is accepted as believable, the brain becomes more susceptible to subsequent lying.

March 21, 2023

Two decades before John Gartner, writing about Trump, made us aware of what a malignant narcissist was the term was used on the TV show Luther

 By Hal Brown

Above: Episode One

I was a psychotherapist for 40 years but hadn't learned what a malignant narcissist was until John D. Gartner came along.

Click above to read USA Today article

I've been rewatching the TV series "Luther" and I was surprised that the term was used both in episode one and in episode two. This was aired in 2010, well before so many people learned what malignant narcissism was. Thanks to John Gartner, the founder of Duty to Warn, I learned about how Trump epitomized the syndrome. 

Alice Morgan is the genius killer who has become Luther's nemesis. Their relationship reminds me of the complex love/hate relationship between Eve and Villanelle in Killing Eve.

There's a new Luther movie out but I thought I'd watch the series again before watching it. I decided to look up "Luther Alice Malignant Narcissist" and came up with these:

Click above to enlarge
This is from Wikipedia (emphasis added):

Alice Morgan, played by Ruth Wilson,is a research scientist with a genius-level IQ. When we first meet her, Alice has murdered her parents – and their dog – in such a calculated fashion, that not even Luther is able to prove her guilt, of which he is absolutely certain. Alice's core belief, that nothing in life ultimately matters, comes into direct conflict with Luther's own beliefs. She frequently insinuates herself into Luther's professional and personal life, both as an enemy and ally, with behaviours ranging from stalking him and those close to him, to helping him avoid criminal prosecution. She also provides Luther with a unique insight into the criminal mind. Luther describes Alice as a malignant narcissist.

This is from the FanDom website:

Note the sentence I have highlighted:

Alice is equal parts genius, psychopath, and malignant narcissist.

Remove the word genius and it would apply to Donald Trump.

In fact the definition of malignant narcissism is that it combines psychopathy with extreme narcissism. I think Fromm should have called it psychopathic narcissism for clarity but this is just a quibble.

If you look up my name and malignant narcissism on DuckDuckGo this is the article on the top of the search page. 

This is just one of the many articles I wrote about Trump being a malignant narcissist and his other psychopathologies.

The word was never in common usage even though prominent social psychologist Erich Fromm coined it in 1964. Then Trump came along. John Gartner first, and then other mental health professionals writing about Trump, used it as did others describing Donald Trump's personality. George Conway is one example of someone who wasn't a psychotherapist who helped make the public aware of how Trump was the epitome of the syndrome:

Click above to read article

Alice Gordon, and Villanelle are malignant narcissists but they are charming and fascinating. If they were real people I can see being friends with them assuming I wasn't on their hit list. 

I'd sooner be friends with Beezlebub than with Donald Trump. At least Beelzebub might be able to teach me to fly and might be able to cook me a gourmet meal.

Please scroll down to the comments link and let readers know what you think. Sharing on social media, also through the links below, is appreciated. New to the blog, note that the archives are on the very bottom of the screen.

March 16, 2023

Lindsay Graham isn't a psychologist but his assessment of Trump is right on

 Lindsay Graham isn't a psychologist but his assessment of Trump is right on

By Hal Brown, MSW

Background by DonkeyHotey

This story is making the news today:

HUFFPOST article above

On the face of it this isn't surprising. The fact that Lindsay Graham,  testifying during a special grand jury investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn his defeat in Georgia, said that “if somebody had told Trump that aliens came down and stole Trump ballots, that Trump would’ve believed it," isn't really my point. Politically, Graham doesn't run for the Senate until his current term expires in 2027 so apparently he doesn't believe saying this about Trump will hurt his election chances.

Trump has turned curious critics into armchair psychologists. Until he came along the average American not familiar with psychological concepts who reads articles by and interviews with mental health professionals became familiar with several syndromes. They may have looked up malignant narcissism, dark triad, and Dunning-Kruger effect on Wikipedia when they decided that the best way to defeat one's enemy was to fully understand him. 

Do a Google image search for Trump in strait jacket and this is what comes up (click images to enlarge):

Trump was such a candidate for mockery because of his unhingedness, but the seriousness of his mental state tended to be overlooked or minimized by those who should have known better. 

When the book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" was published the editor, Yale University forensic psychiatrist Bandy Lee, went to Washington, met with a dozen members of Congress, and made sure every Democrat in Congress had a copy. (See Yale psychiatrist briefed members of Congress on Trump’s mental fitness , CNN (Jan. 5, 2018)

The first mental health professional to publish an article explaining why Trump's malignant narcissism made him dangerous was the founder of Duty To Warn and who made the documentary #UNFIT clinical psychologist John Gartner in Donald Trump's malignant narcissism is toxic, USA Today, (May 4, 2017).

It wasn't merely mental health professionals who warned about Trump's dangerous psychopathy. George Conway is a prominent example: Donald Trump's Pathological Narcissism and Sociopathy Leave Him Unable to Function as a Proper President, Says George Conway, Newsweek, (10/3/19)

In 2022 it was revealed that John Kelly read "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" and came to believe he was "pathological liar whose inflated ego" was the sign of a "deeply insecure person,” according to upcoming book "The Divider." (LINK).
The first article about Trump being a narcissist by a mental health professional,  Northwestern University psychologist Dan P. McAdams, as far as I can tell, was in The Atlantic in June, 2016 I won't put a link because if you click you will use a free read unless you have a subscription. You can read a summary of the article for free here.

I wrote many articles about Trump's psychopatholgy first published on Capitol Hill Blue and then posted on Daily Kos. In Sept. 2022 I used this image of a Google search page for  Trump mentally ill in a Daily Kos posting:
Click above to enlarge

Bottom line: Trump has amply demonstrated that in addition to sharing the authoritarian and white supremacist beliefs of Ron DeSantos he is manifestly psychologically unstable. There is no way someone like him should be within 100 miles of the nuclear football.


Please scroll down to the comments link and let readers know what you think. Sharing on social media, also through the links below, is appreciated.

January 23, 2023

Those of us at Duty to Warn should have called Trump a narcissistic sociopath

 In retrospect those of us at Duty to Warn should have called Trump a narcissistic sociopath
By Hal Brown, MSW

Duty to Warn (website) is a group composed of mental health professionals and others formed by clinical psychologist to want about Trump's dangerous pathology. It was originally advocated for this removal from office through the 25th Amendment. It was formed by Dr. John D. Gartner (Wikipedia profile). He was the first mental health professional to describe in the media why Trump fit the criteria for being a malignant narcissist. This was way back in 2017.

Click above to read article

Here's a YouTube report about Gartner's diagnosis:

Click above to view

I also wrote about this in 2020.

Click above to read article

Here's the first page of a web search on DuckDuckGo for Trump malignant narcissist:

In light of Donald Trump 's unprecedented behaviors during phone conversations with two of our closest allies and his continuing early-morning habit of tweeting out his pathology in the form of foreign policy, I have created this brief checklist describing the signs of one of the most severe expressions of personality as described by mental …

While this was true it wasn't a good descriptor as far as conveying to the general public what Trump was.  My contention ins that we are talking about marketing concepts here, about words that have the most impact on the general public.  Sociopath and sociopathic have more impact than narcissism. Some writers, even those who weren't mental health professionals like George Conway put the later into their articles: NEWSWEEK

Donald Trump's Pathological Narcissism and Sociopathy Leave Him Unable to Function as a Proper President, Says George Conway

Here's another Newsweek article, this one form 2019:

Trump Is a 'Successful Sociopath' and a Predator Who 'Lacks a Conscience and Lacks Empathy,' Says Former Harvard Psychiatrist

My point is that "sociopath" should have been used much more frequently.

The far better term is finally being used:

Click above to read article
There's no way to know whether the labeling many mental health professionals used to describe Trump as a malignant narcissist would have had more impact if he was called a narcissistic sociopath.

The reason I wonder about this is because the the first term emphasizes "narcissist" and 
the second term empathizes "sociopath." 

While "malignant" is well understood as something that is dangerous and often deadly I am not sure combining it with "narcissist" did more than confuse the public who had never heard of malignant narcissism.

Everyone, even diehard Trump cultists, know that Trump is narcissistic. Narcissists can range for being mildly annoying to those they have relationships with to being toxic, or I suppose you could call them malignant. 

There are lots of narcissists in public life. This doesn't make them dangerous. 

The most dangerous people in positions of power and authority are the sociop
aths whether they are narcissists or not. From what I've read about Hitler he wasn't known for being a narcissist. Putin with his proclivity of being photographed shirtless on horseback on the other hand probably has some narcissistic traits but is certainly a ruthless sociopath. Idi Amin was generally photographed with a chestful of medals.

 If American presidents wore uniforms I can imagine Trump having one made which would rival a four star general's. Just about all Trump can do is wear a red baseball hat and sell digital trading cards of photoshops of himself, or (upper left) posting a photo of himself in front of Mt. Rushmore (read story here).

Trump has been compared to the emperor with no clothes in the Hans Christian Anderson.
The fairytale emperor's vice was his vanity. Trump's obsession with his hair and facial makeup has been roundly mocked. The emperor for all his gullibility and grandiose narcissism was depicted as moron but never as a malevolent leader. 

Trump, on the other hand....

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