Showing posts with label political psychology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political psychology. Show all posts

December 29, 2022

I am friggen tired of saying that the media should have mental health experts explaining the psychopathology causing aberrant dangerous to democracy behavior

 I am friggen tired of saying that the media should have mental health experts explaining the psychopathology causing aberrant dangerous to democracy behavior

By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired clinical social worker psychotherapist


Above: click to enlarge my version of RAWSTORY with image made with BeFunky showing four mentally cracked people in the news.

Once upon a time we had Dr. Joyce Brothers and Dr. Ruth Westheimer giving psychological advice to millions of American. Dr. Brothers explained general psychology as it applied to everyday life and Dr. Ruth, as she was called, focused on sex eduction. No topic was too taboo for Dr. Ruth to address. 

We have no expert in psychology who  regularly  appears on MSNBC shows as a regular to help explain the psychopathology of public figures. The only one to do this is Lawrence O'Donnell.

Every day they have experts on the law, history, and fascism on their panels. 

A notable exception in the mental health field when it comes to Donald Trump is his clinical psychologist niece, Dr. Mary Trump. Why not add a couple of regular experts to weigh in on the psychopathology evident in all figures making news who could undermine democracy?

Currently in our political milieu we have both politicians and non-politicians like Elon Musk and Ye who manifest behavior that strong suggest they suffer from a psychiatric disorder. 

On the bottom of this page I am republishing a blog addressing this. I am looking at the same topic in the hope that those who missed the first blog (and others related to the issue) will not only read it but consider the RAWSTORY opening page I checked this morning. By the time you click here these stories will have moved down the page. Who knows what reports of people demonstrating to any rational person that they have so many loose screws that if they depended on them to remain upright they'd be laying flat on their backs.   

The aberration of George Santos is what prompted me to reprise the subject.
Click above to enlarge image.

Here's an older RAWSTORY article which prompted me to write a blog:


A word about making a diagnosis without an actual in-person assessment: I am not going to go into depth about The Goldwater Rule in this blog. I wrote about why I don't think it applies to psychotherapists who are qualified to make a diagnosis when they believe they have a responsibility to warn the public that a person in public life represents any kind of danger to our democracy. You can read my thoughts about this on these Daily Kos stories I wrote, three of the five were written in August of 2016:

PSY-VU: While not breaking the letter of the Goldwater “rule ... Aug. 2013

Aug 23, 2016 — The Goldwater rule is the informal name for a precept of medical ethics promulgated by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The never-ending controversy about diagnosing Trump Aug. 2016

Aug 6, 2016 — 13, 2016 “Is the “Goldwater Rule Necessary? ... Hal Brown argues at the Daily Kos that reviewing the symptoms of narcissistic personality ...

PSY-VU: The media finally recognizes what shrinks knew a ... Aug. 2016

Aug 3, 2016 — 13, 2016 “Is the “Goldwater Rule Necessary? ... Hal Brown argues at the Daily Kos that reviewing the symptoms of narcissistic personality ...


A shrink musing in the morning: Trump's version of ... - Daily Kos


Aug 17, 2018 — Trump seems to want his own version of the Goldwater rule, not to apply mental health professionals, rather to apply to retired members of the ..
.

Trump’s psychosis has spread to Giuliani, Dershowitz, and rest of GOP: Psychiatrist Bandy Lee, Daily Kos, Jan. 2020

 The normalizing of delusional sociopathic grandiose narcissism

 
There are myriad examples of people in the news who demonstrate by their behavior, their actions and words, that they, to put it bluntly, have one or all of their hinges so loose that if they were the door on the jam it would be hanging and about to fall.

Creative Commons Flickr

I don't have to tax my brain by coming up with a list of clinically deranged people in public life. Just a look at the stories on various websites will provide many examples. A Salon article by one of my favorite columnists, Amanda Marcotte, offered a list of five:

Of course these five are just losers even though Trump could actually become president again. We still have winners like Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Loren Boebert who are still in the House and now that the GOP controls it have even more power.

From Elon Musk whose unhingedness knows no bounds as he tweeted "My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci, a sentiment supported by said Rep. Greene who is saying that if she was in charge of the January 6th attack on the Capitol the crowd would have been armed (something that could end her in front of a grand jury), to Ye and Herschel Walker (who I wrote about here) There are numerous similar tweets from Musk strongly suggesting he is unmoored from reality and behaving in self-destructive ways.

Although I now post on Mastodon (here) I have been making some Twitter tweets to see what happens. Here's the one I made today:

Click above to enlarge, does not go to Twitter. Text reads: Scene which the spaceship hits the Moon's eye from the Méliès 1902 film "A Trip to the Moon" became one of the most iconic images in cinematic history. An infamous rich guy made history by being the man in the moon who sent a metaphorical rocket of his making into his own eye.

There are enough people to be analyzed for in a PhD dissertation titled "Abnormal psychology as manifest in people in public life."

In some ways it is more disturbing to know that there are so many ordinary citizens who embrace the Big Lie and the conspiracy lunacy of QAnon. There are uncountable millions people not just in this country but around the world who, if objectively assessed by mental health professionals, would be diagnosed with one or more psychiatric conditions listed in the DSM-5.
There are several hundred diagnostic categories in the DSM  and new ones are periodically added, for example:

  • Binge Eating Disorder.
  • Caffeine Withdrawal.
  • Cannabis Withdrawal.
  • Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder- DMDD.
  • Hoarding Disorder.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – PMDD.
 "According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one in five adults lives with a mental disorder (any mental illness in the US, and about one in 18 American adults has a serious mental illness. Some psychiatric conditions may be temporary, occur occasionally, and never return again." Reference includes entire list.

It should be obvious that most people with psychiatric disorders actually suffer, thus the term "suffering from" one or another disorder. There are other people who don't suffer themselves. They make  people in their lives including family, friends, and co-workers, suffer. Just consider the number of books about being married to a narcissist.

Of all of these the two most relevant disorders to consider when looking at the people I am writing about are what is now called antisocial personality disorder but is often referred to by the previous name, sociopathic disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Some people meet enough of the criteria for having both and would be considered to be malignant narcissists. This diagnosis never made it into then DSM but in my opinion and the opinion of many mental health professionals including, notably, Dr. John D. Gartner, the founder of the Duty to Warn society, Donald Trump has this disorder. Gartner wrote about this in 2017:
If any single person could be described as causing an extreme and dangerous mental pathology as becoming normalized it is Donald Trump.

Gartner is, as far as I know, the only mental health professional critical of Trump to appear on Fox News. In 2017 he was on "Watters World" in an interview which, to put it mildly, did not go well. Here's the video:


Full disclosure: Dr. Gartner and I have had a relationship since the formation of his Duty to Warn society. 

Currently the media, with some notable exceptions like MSNBC which regularly has clinical psychologist Mary Trump on and others experts discussing Donald Trump, reports the behavior of Trump and people like those mentioned above as if it is normal. 

I have followed the media closely since 2017 to see whether any mainstream publications addressed the issue of public figures like Trump, Taylor-Greene, Herschel Walker by interviewing mental health experts. 

Salon stands out for having Chauncey DeVega who often publishes interviews with mental health experts like psychiatrist Lance Dodes like "Trump is a dangerous sociopath — but he's sane enough to stand trial" and Psychiatrist Bandy Lee says White House officials told her Trump was "unraveling".

Of course, Salon with its progressive slant, can't be considered mainstream the way USA Today can. As far as I have been able to tell USA Today is the only widely circulated publication to publish a story about Trump's dangerous psychopathology.

It is about time that the mainstream media, including publications that the far right fringe considers to be fake news like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have regular columnists who are mental health experts who can analyze the behavior of public figures based on their knowledge of personality.

It is about time dangerous psychopathology stops being normalized by the media. It must be called out for what it is.


December 28, 2022

Is it time for a female president? If Republicans or men prevail the answer is no.

Is it time for a female president? If Republicans or men prevail the answer is no.
by Hal Brown 
The slogan and ads  for Virginia Slims probably sold a lot of cigarettes, but it is interesting to note that the use of the word "baby" smacks of male chauvinism. The word "lady" could just as easily have been used. It also show bias because it reads "you've come a long way, baby" rather than simply "we've come a long way." Below you will find some of my Freudian political analysis but even the word "long" could have been chosen by advertisers of the time who were steeped in depth psychology to unconsciously appeal to women. Here's a review of The Hidden Persuaders.

Susan Page, who wrote a USA article yesterday, was on Morning Joe this morning discussing 

In search of the perfect president: What Americans say they want, from age to gender




She was discussing the results of a recent poll about what Americans want in a president This is the portion that, while it didn't surprise me at all, it did pique my interest because it verified what I would have predicted (my emphasis added):

Is it time for a female president? 

Maybe not.

Most voters, a 55% majority, volunteered that gender doesn't matter. That would be news to Hillary Clinton and other female candidates, who believe they encountered political headwinds because of their sex. 

For a significant number of Americans, the Oval Office remains a man's world. Overall, those who expressed a preference chose a man over a woman as ideal by more than 2-1, 28%-12%. 

Among Republicans, 50% said the ideal president would be male while a negligible 2% said she would be female. In contrast, Democrats with a preference chose a woman over a man by 2-1, 24%-11%.

Political independents were the most likely to say gender doesn't matter. Nearly two-thirds, 63%, volunteered that view. 

Is there a gender gap on gender? 

Among those voters with a preference, men by 8-1 preferred a male president over a female one, 32%-4%. Women were somewhat more likely to prefer a male president as well, 25%-19%.  

 I think in writing "maybe not" above, Susan Page was being optimistic. I would have written "probably not" and perhaps added that if Republicans and men had their say we won't have a woman as president in the foreseeable future.

I was trained as a psychoanalytically oriented therapist and then practiced psychodynamically informed though eclectic psychotherapy for 40 years. I often channel Freud when I try to understand behavior, beliefs, opinions, and such.

When it comes to the opinion of the men as to whether they'd be comfortable with having a woman as president one term comes to mind. It is castration anxiety. This is  is a psychoanalytic concept introduced by Sigmund Freud to describe a boy's fear of loss of or damage to the genital organ as punishment for incestuous wishes toward the mother and murderous fantasies toward the rival father.

We can put it less graphically as, say, fears of emasculation, or even less so, feeling threatened by having smart, competent, and confident women in power because it makes them feel diminished.

In Freudian theory, the female counterpart of castration anxiety is penis envy. Both concepts are now quite controversial with the later being the subject of considerable debate and attempts at debunking not only in Freud's time but especially during the Women's Lib era.

The saddest part of this poll, again not a surprise, is that women who had a preference were somewhat more likely to prefer a male president as well, 25%-19% While a 6% difference may seem insignificant to me it suggests that while since the chauvinistic 1950's, while women have come a long way, there are still many many adult women in the United States who I think have a serious self-esteem problem.

Consider the numbers: There are about 108 million women over the age of 18 in the United States. Six percent of that is about 6.5 million. My hunch is that the under 50 years of age demographic of those with a preference would rather have a female president with a much higher percentage the even younger adult women.

The poll doesn't separate middle-of-the-road and never-Trump Republicans from MAGA and far right Republicans. I think the further to the right one is the more they have a belief that men are superior to women.

I don't have polling date to confirm my, hopefully educated, hunches, but my sense is that Republican men are more likely to feel superior to women than Democrat and Independent men. I think that women married to the Republican men who have chauvinistic beliefs are more likely to have low self-esteem. 

Addendum:

You can read more about castration anxiety here:


Unrelated:

Just for the hell of it, now that I have my new MacBook Pro I can make images again. Here's what I just made to post on my Mastodon page.

Click to enlarge:


This is from the scene in which the spaceship hits the Moon's eye from Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès 1902 film "A Trip to the Moon" would go on to become one of the most iconic images in cinematic history. Musk has made history by being the man in the moon who sent a rocket of his making into his own eye.




December 12, 2022

The normalizing of delusional sociopathic grandiose narcissism

 The normalizing of delusional sociopathic grandiose narcissism
By Hal Brown

Archives on Right >


Select comments may be shared here. 

I was a practicing psychotherapist for 40 years before retiring, the first 20 of those I work as the director of a small mental health center. I have posted numerous articles online about the dangerous psychopathology of Donald Trump. 

There are myriad examples of people in the news who demonstrate by their behavior, their actions and words, that they, to put it bluntly, have one or all of their hinges so loose that if they were the door on the jam it would be hanging and about to fall.

Creative Commons Flickr

I don't have to tax my brain by coming up with a list of clinically deranged people in public life. Just a look at the stories on various websites will provide many examples. A Salon article by one of my favorite columnists, Amanda Marcotte, this morning offers a list of five:

Of course these five are just losers even though Trump could actually become president again. We still have winners like Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Loren Boebert who are still in the House and now that the GOP controls it have even more power.

From Elon Musk whose unhingedness knows no bounds as he just yesterday tweeted "My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci, a sentiment supported by said Rep. Greene who is saying that if she was in charge of the January 6th attack on the Capitol the crowd would have been armed (something that could end her in front of a grand jury), to Ye and Herschel Walker (who I wrote about here) 

There are enough people to be analyzed for in a PhD dissertation titled "Abnormal psychology as manifest in people in public life."

In some ways it is more disturbing to know that there are so many ordinary citizens who embrace the Big Lie and the conspiracy lunacy of QAnon. There are uncountable millions people not just in this country but around the world who, if objectively assessed by mental health professionals, would be diagnosed with one or more psychiatric conditions listed in the DSM-5.
There are several hundred diagnostic categories in the DSM  and new ones are periodically added, for example:

  • Binge Eating Disorder.
  • Caffeine Withdrawal.
  • Cannabis Withdrawal.
  • Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder- DMDD.
  • Hoarding Disorder.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – PMDD.
 "According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one in five adults lives with a mental disorder (any mental illness in the US, and about one in 18 American adults has a serious mental illness. Some psychiatric conditions may be temporary, occur occasionally, and never return again." Reference includes entire list.

It should be obvious that most people with psychiatric disorders actually suffer, thus the term "suffering from" one or another disorder. There are other people who don't suffer themselves. They make  people in their lives including family, friends, and co-workers, suffer. Just consider the number of books about being married to a narcissist.

Of all of these the two most relevant disorders to consider when looking at the people I am writing about are what is now called antisocial personality disorder but is often referred to by the previous name, sociopathic disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Some people meet enough of the criteria for having both and would be considered to be malignant narcissists. This diagnosis never made it into then DSM but in my opinion and the opinion of many mental health professionals including, notably, Dr. John D. Gartner, the founder of the Duty to Warn society, Donald Trump has this disorder. Gartner wrote about this in 2017:
If any single person could be described as causing an extreme and dangerous mental pathology as becoming normalized it is Donald Trump.

Gartner is, as far as I know, the only mental health professional critical of Trump to appear on Fox News. In 2017 he was on "Watters World" in an interview which, to put it mildly, did not go well. Here's the video:


Full disclosure: Dr. Gartner and I have had a relationship since the formation of his Duty to Warn society. 

Currently the media, with some notable exceptions like MSNBC which regularly has clinical psychologist Mary Trump on and others experts discussing Donald Trump, reports the behavior of Trump and people like those mentioned above as if it is normal. 

I have followed the media closely since 2017 to see whether any mainstream publications addressed the issue of public figures like Trump, Taylor-Greene, Herschel Walker by interviewing mental health experts. 

Salon stands out for having Chauncey DeVega who often publishes interviews with mental health experts like psychiatrist Lance Dodes like "Trump is a dangerous sociopath — but he's sane enough to stand trial" and Psychiatrist Bandy Lee says White House officials told her Trump was "unraveling".

Of course, Salon with its progressive slant, can't be considered mainstream the way USA Today can. As far as I have been able to tell USA Today is the only widely circulated publication to publish a story about Trump's dangerous psychopathology.

It is about time that the mainstream media, including publications that the far right fringe considers to be fake news like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have regular columnists who are mental health experts who can analyze the behavior of public figures based on their knowledge of personality.

It is about time dangerous psychopathology stops being normalized by the media. It must be called out for what it is.

You can post comments directly by clicking below.


November 8, 2022

 Some election day psychology: A primer on narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders

By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist


I have written numerous articles about mental health especially as related to Donald Trump. Many were published on Daily Kos. I was one of the first members of Dr. John Gartner's Duty to Warn group.

If you do this Google search for Trump Hal Brown this is what you come up with:

Click above to enlarge image

I'd forgotten that a letter I wrotewas published on Medium.

Donald Trump is not the only politician to have manifest deeply concerning signs he or she had psychiatric disorders which could endanger democracy. 

On Election Day I thought it was a good to time to put together a simple primer for those who are interested in assessing which other politicians seem to have personality disorders which may make them a danger to democracy.

This is how The Mayo Clinic describes personality disorders:

A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.

In some cases, you may not realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you. And you may blame others for the challenges you face.

Personality disorders usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood. There are many types of personality disorders. Some types may become less obvious throughout middle age.

Not all people with personality disorders actually are distressed by having them or even have an inkling that they do. They are broken down into three groupings called clusters as follows:

Cluster A: characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. They include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Cluster B: characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Cluster C personality disorders: characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

All of these disorders with the exception of two are treatable. The people who have them seek treatment because they are suffering. The two that are not considered by the majority of mental health professionals to be treatable are narcissistic personality disorder antisocial  personality disorder. Rather than suffering themselves they causes other people to suffer. Some of them even revel in making others suffer and would be considered sadists or bullies. They often build up themselves at the expense of others.

How many politicians meet the criteria for one or both narcissistic personality disorder and/or antisocial  personality disorder (which used to be called sociopathic disorder)?

Let's review the characteristics of each disorder.:

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) includes:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and with lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by at least five of the following:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
  • Believes that they are "special" and can only be understood by or should only associate with other special people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations).
  • Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  • Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes

Antisocial personality disorder:

 Disregard for and violation of others rights since age 15, as indicated by one of the seven sub features: 

  1. Failure to obey laws and norms by engaging in behavior which results in criminal arrest, or would warrant criminal arrest 
  2. Lying, deception, and manipulation, for profit or self-amusement,
  3. Impulsive behavior
  4. Irritability and aggression, manifested as frequently assaults others, or engages in fighting
  5. Blatantly disregards safety of self and others, 
  6. A pattern of irresponsibility and 
  7. Lack of remorse for actions 


It is possible for one person to have both narcissistic personality and antisocial personality. While not a formally recognized diagnosis this has been called malignant narcissism.

(Malignant narcissism is) a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissismantisocial behavioraggression, and sadism.  Grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.

Malignant narcissism is not a diagnostic category, but a subcategory of narcissism. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), while malignant narcissism is not. Malignant narcissism could include aspects of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) alongside a mix of antisocialparanoid and sadistic personality disorder traits. The importance of malignant narcissism and of projection as a defense mechanism has been confirmed in paranoia, as well as "the patient's vulnerability to malignant narcissistic regression".  

A person with malignant narcissism exhibits paranoia in addition to the symptoms of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Because a malignant narcissist's personality cannot tolerate any criticism, being mocked typically causes paranoia. Wikipedia


I do not believe we can dismiss the way some Republican politicians fit into one or both categories. History should warn us what happens when people like this end up in power.


Who will really be standing behind Biden in the State of The Union Address

 Who will really be standing behind Biden in the State of The Union Address By Hal Brown It's supposed to be the House Speaker, but who ...