The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump
|Subject||Donald Trump, mental health, politics|
|Publisher||Thomas Dunne Books|
|October 3, 2017|
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump is a 2017 book edited by Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist, containing essays from 27 psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals on the "clear and present danger" that US President Donald Trump's mental health poses to the "nation and individual well being". They argue that the President's mental health was affecting the mental health of the people of the United States and that he places the country at grave risk of involving it in a war and of undermining democracy itself because of his pathological dangerousness.
Consequently, they claim, Trump's presidency represents an emergency not only allowing, but perhaps also requiring, psychiatrists in the United States to raise alarms. While it has been repeatedly claimed that they have broken the American Psychiatric Association's Goldwater rule, which holds that it is unethical for psychiatrists to give professional opinions about public figures without examining them in person, the authors maintain that pointing out danger and calling for an evaluation is different from diagnosis. They have rather criticized the APA for changing professional norms and standards, stating that it is dangerous to turn reasonable ethical guidelines into a gag rule under political pressure.
According to Jeannie Suk Gersen in The New Yorker, "A strange consensus does appear to be forming around Trump's mental state," including Democrats and Republicans who doubt Trump's fitness for office.
In a blog post republished on Salon in September 2017, journalist Bill Moyers wrote that "[t]here will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump". In an interview with Robert Jay Lifton, Moyers said that Trump "makes increasingly bizarre statements that are contradicted by irrefutable evidence to the contrary." Lifton said, "He doesn't have clear contact with reality, though I'm not sure it qualifies as a bona fide delusion." As an example, Lifton said, when Trump claimed that former president Barack Obama was born in Kenya, "he was manipulating that lie as well as undoubtedly believing it in part."
Carlos Lozada in The Washington Post wrote that many politicians and commentators referred to Trump as "crazy" or doubted his mental health. In this book, mental health professionals examine that claim. They conclude that "anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency." Lozada wrote that these conclusions are "compelling," but presidents with mental illness, like depression, can be effective, and presidents without mental illness can still be dangerous.
Estelle Freedman, the Robinson Professor in U.S. History at Stanford University, said of the book:
This insightful collection is grounded in historical consciousness of the ways professionals have responded to fascist leaders and unstable politicians in the past. It is a valuable primary source documenting the critical turning point when American psychiatry reassessed the ethics of restraining commentary on the mental health of public officials in light of the "duty to warn" of imminent danger. Medical and legal experts thoughtfully assess diagnoses of Trump's behavior and astutely explore how to scrutinize political candidates, address client fears, and assess the 'Trump Effect' on our social fabric.
Writing for RealClearPolitics, Carl M. Cannon, by contrast, argued that the book's foreword, by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, "offers the melodramatic view that clinicians who don't warn the world about Donald Trump's shortcomings are akin to Nazi doctors who worked at Auschwitz. At the risk of practicing medicine without a license, I'd suggest that this historical comparison is de facto evidence of [Trump Derangement Syndrome] – and paranoid grandiosity".
- Parker, Kathleen (June 13, 2017). "Is Trump making America mentally ill?". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Gersen, Jeannie Suk (August 23, 2017). "Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
- Lee, Bandy X.; Fisher, Edwin B.; Glass, Leonard L. (February 26, 2018). "The Goldwater rule has been turned into a silencing mechanism aimed at those who would speak out". Bostonglobe.com.
- Moyers, Bill (September 19, 2017). "The dangerous case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on "A Duty to Warn"". Salon. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
- Carlos Lozada, "Is Trump Mentally Ill? Or Is America? Psychiatrists Weigh In, The Washington Post, September 22, 2017
- Cannon, Carl M. (September 19, 2017). "Trump vs. Psychiatrists: Who's Crazier?". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved September 21, 2017.