It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)


Many Americans have witnessed the tragedy of chemical dependency – in a friend, in a family member, or even in themselves. Those in recovery from this illness are aware that it is not just the alcoholic or addict who is sick: it is a family disease. Those close to the addict often develop a behavior called “enabling,” in which they try to cope with the behavior of their loved one and maintain the illusion of normalcy by either denying their loved one’s illness or constantly picking up the pieces of the damage caused, making excuses for them, and trying to hide the evidence. Such enabling behavior can require as much of an intervention as the behavior of the addict himself/herself.

Less known to many Americans is that the same dynamic often develops in the family or friends of an individual suffering from a mental disorder.

Last week, I discussed how the clinically diagnosable mental illnesses of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder can co-exist in one individual –not uncommon in those who suffer from the DSM-listed “Cluster B” Personality Disorders. I also wrote about how numerous mental health professionals have broken from the traditional ethics of their collective practice to warn the public of their belief that the President suffers from at least one of those mental disorders.

Many of our legislators in Washington DC, particularly on the Republican side, are displaying enabling behavior. They are trying to act as if our President’s reckless episodes are normal, glossing over careless and damaging antics that are rapidly eroding our nation’s relationships and our credibility in dangerous ways.

Take, for example, the most recent drama, carried out over the past couple of weeks. On March 4, the President heard a news story (he says on Fox) alleging that his phone had been tapped at Trump Tower in October, 2016. Rather than reaching out to any number of bright, credible individuals to whom he has instant access 24 hours a day – the FBI Director, the head of the CIA, among others – to verify the validity of this wild claim, he immediately tweeted the first thing that popped into his head for the whole world to see, accusing former President Obama of a felony without any substantiating evidence:

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Obviously such a claim from a sitting President would require investigation, because America operates on the assumption that the individual holding the office of the Presidency is responsible, sane, and understands the weighty implications and impact of his/her public statements – even when they are made on Twitter at 6am.

FBI Director Comey immediately asked his superior, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to deny the accusation, because it was untrue and Comey was concerned that it would reflect in a legally damning way on himself. The majority-Republican House Intelligence Committee investigated the matter thoroughly – at taxpayer cost, of course – and concluded that there had in fact been no surveillance of Trump Tower.

So the President then changed his story and claimed that Obama (the man whom Trump had spent years falsely claiming was born in Kenya – long after being given concrete evidence to the contrary) had actually enlisted British intelligence do the surveillance, because Obama wanted “no American fingerprints on this.” British intelligence uncharacteristically and angrily denied the absurdity of the accusation, yet as of this date, the President continues to cling to his story that Obama was tapping his phones at Trump Tower.

The entire scenario is consistent with the behaviors associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder, which include (among others):

A need to be the center of attention

Making rash decisions

Being easily influenced by others, especially those who treat them approvingly

Speaking dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up

(There are links to several full lists of the behaviors associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder in last week’s post)

In the world of reality TV, the wiretapping drama might be an entertaining sideshow, and one might debate the ethics and morality of making entertainment out of the unusual behavior of an individual suffering from mental illness. But this is the office of President of the United States – our nation’s highest visibility ambassador to the world, and simultaneously, the person in charge of our military and our nuclear arsenal. The wiretapping claim, like so many other examples of President Trump’s erratic and unstable behavior, contributes to a picture that increasingly puts our nation at risk. How?

Imagine for a moment a situation in which America must legitimately go to war, and needs the assistance of our allies. In order to commit their men and women to a battle in which their country’s citizens may lose their lives, those allies’  leaders need to feel confident that our President is telling the truth, and is basing his/her perceptions on facts, reality, and legitimate intelligence. If you were the leader of another country, would you send your people off to war based on the word of Donald Trump, as you have for other American Presidents for decades? Could hesitance of America’s allies to provide military back-up to the United States put American lives at risk?

Or consider the same scenario here at home. How many American parents would be confident that their sons and daughters currently in the military are being sent off to fight for a necessary, just cause that is not based on fantasy, overreaction, delusion, or some perceived slight to an overinflated but fragile ego? And how confident would those soldiers themselves feel that their lives are not being needlessly put at risk over a pipe dream or crackpot conspiracy theory? Would some disobey? Would doubts about the cause and about our President embolden our enemy? Would hesitance or uncertainty in some soldier likely put the lives of other soldiers – or of Americans overall – in danger?

These are just some of the implications – in one area alone – where a mentally unstable individual in the office of the President can pose a significant risk to our nation, and does not even look at the direct military scenarios that could result from “rash decision making.” There are countless other concerns: one need only consider an issue (particularly one that involves relationships, sober decision making, or foreign policy) and apply basic logic.

Yet most members of Congress – especially the Republicans – seem to want to pretend that everything happening is normal, that our President is just “unconventional,” that he’s “shaking things up in Washington just as he was elected to do.” Their only real concern seems to be that the taint of the odd behavior not cause too great a stain on themselves politically in the short term.

I believe that this denial – this unwillingness to look squarely at what is happening, acknowledge it for what it is, and take appropriate action – is either pathetic political cowardice, short-sighted partisanship, or willful enabling. Regardless of the motive, an intervention is needed for the majority of our Republican US Senators and Representatives to snap them out of their enabling and denial so that they can begin looking seriously at the need for impeachment/removal from office – before America experiences the consequences of Congressional inaction.

To be clear, this is not about policy. I disagree with Mike Pence as much on policy as I do Trump, and I would likely be vocal in my opposition to the policies of a President Pence. But my opposition would be in the communally understood context of democracy and my own sense of ethics, morality, and justice. My push-back on policy would be balanced with my ability to accept the relative soundness and stability of Mike Pence’s leadership, and the four year wait for a chance to elect a President that I consider “better.”

In the case of Donald Trump, however, I do not believe that we have anything close to four years for our political system to address the clear and present danger posed to the American people. Congress needs to act now.

– rob rünt

Trump’s Mental Health:“The Elephant in the Room”
(MSNBC, 2/23/17)


It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 1 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 1 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 1 of 2)


By now, many Americans have seen the headline of at least one editorial (there are several) written by one or more mental health professionals proclaiming that Donald Trump is mentally unfit for the office of the Presidency, that he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Unfortunately due to the meaning of the term ”narcissist” among mental health professionals and the meaning of the term among the greater population, many people likely responded to such editorials with a shrug: “So he’s vain, what’s the big deal? He’s got a good track record in the business world, and we need someone in Washington who has some business sense to shake things up. Besides, anyone who runs for President is bound to have a big ego.”

So one thing that needs to be clarified is that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not the same thing as the character trait of being narcissistic: NPD is a serious and diagnosable personality disorder with significant negative implications, particularly when embodied in the President of the United States.

Mental health is an inexact science. It often requires an assessment of thoughts, which cannot be seen. Since there is no way to determine for certain what a person is thinking, their thoughts must be understood based upon their words and actions in the world. In order to bring some standardization to the diagnostic process, several decades ago the American Psychiatric Association developed the “DSM” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which is updated periodically based on new understandings. The DSM describes the behaviors and expressed beliefs that are associated with each mental illness. When a person is observed to fit most or all of the criteria for a particular illness, a mental health professional can diagnose the person with relative confidence.

What is it about Donald Trump’s behaviors and expressed beliefs that have led thousands of mental health professionals to break with the long-held traditions and ethical standards of their practice – potentially risking their licenses – to sign a petition warning the public about what they are seeing?

Below is a series of links to information about the “Cluster B” personality disorders listed in the DSM, of which “histrionic ” (code 301.50, F60.4) and narcissistic (code 301.81, F60.81) are the most worthy of attention. It is not uncommon for more than one Cluster B personality disorder to occur simultaneously in one person (a phenomenon referred to as “comorbidity”). Please read through the relevant sections of any or all of the links. It is rather staggering.

(Note: The actual DSM is not available online and may not be reprinted without permission from the American Psychiatric Association)

The Cluster B Personality Disorders (includes both Narcissistic and Histrionic)

Described by Mayo Clinic

Described by Boundless.com

Described in Psychology Today

Described by Psych.TheClinics

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Described on Wikipedia

Described in Psychology Today

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Described on Wikipedia

The top concerns with a high profile government leader who has narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, or both are the effects of the behaviors on their ability to form stable and positive relationships with other world leaders, the impact of their rash decision-making on policy and global relations, the potential for their weaknesses to be exploited by others within the US government, and the potential for their weaknesses to be exploited by foreign governments.

Let’s hope that the thousands of mental health professionals who have gone out on a limb to publicly diagnose President Donald Trump are wrong.

– rob rünt

“I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this. I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy President.”

Eliot Cohen
Former State Department Official under George W. Bush
(Full Article – Huffington Post)