Pete Sabey: A terrifying new American epidemic
In the midst of climate collapse and the rapid mutation of viruses and fungal diseases, psychoallergists have discovered a terrible new syndrome. Its scientific name is veritatitis (def: an acute, incurable allergy to truth). The popular name, based on its most famous victim, is Trumpism.
An example of how this allergy to truth manifests in its victims: North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Un referred to President Trump as “a mentally unstable dotard.” Trump responded immediately on that notorious disease vector, Twitter. There, in a classic veritatistic tweet, Trump referred to himself as “a mentally stable genius.”
Kim’s description is very concise and dead-on accurate as we shall see. In contrast, Trump’s self-definition is totally devoid of any truth whatsoever.
Kim may not be notorious for truth-telling, but in this case the description of Trump as “mentally unstable” perfectly captures the consensus of thousands of American mental health professionals. While acknowledging a general professional ethical standard that “diagnosis from a distance” is ethically discouraged, in the case of the president of the United States, they felt bound by another urgent responsibility, professionally known as “the duty to warn.” This means that the code of confidentiality by which therapists live must be set aside when a person is a clear danger to others.
Based on recurrent public behavior, this large and varied group of respected mental health professionals reached the inescapable conclusion that our nation has a seriously mentally ill president who governs with haphazard recklessness, impervious to advice except from a TV channel itself a victim of veritatitis. This impulsive way of governing is a clear and present danger to the nation and the world.
The therapeutic community begins by citing two major personality disorders, either of which by itself should be disqualifying for the presidency: Narcissistic Personality Disorder and extreme Sociopathy. They also cite ADHD and early dementia (Kim’s “dotard”). The latter two diagnoses help explain the chaotic state of the White House. That by itself is serious. But that is not the worst.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by an extreme need for attention, a complete absence of empathy, and a total inability to accept any criticism. Popularly it is characterized as “kiss up, kick down.” This means subservience to one perceived as having more power (think Trump’s fawning before Putin) and his contemptuous treatment of everyone who works under him, thus explaining the unprecedented turnover of Cabinet and other high government officials tired of being trashed by their boss’s name-calling and bullying. Therapists find NPD extremely difficult to treat because any approach to the profound insecurity of the NPD patient causes him (usually male) to fire the therapist because it is too terrifying to look inward. This is invariably true of veritatitis patients.
Disabling as NPD is, it is a clinically lethal comorbidity when combined with the second serious mental disorder noted by the mental health consensus: Sociopathy. What mental health professionals used to call psychopaths are now called sociopaths. These are people lacking, in varying degrees, a conscience. There is no distinction between right and wrong, therefore no remorse regardless of harm inflicted.
Another key diagnostic criterion for sociopathy is difficulty with truthfulness and objective facts. This is where psychoallergists distinguish the pathetic victim’s of veritatitis from ordinary sociopaths; they note that sociopaths have trouble telling the truth. In contrast, veritatitis victims consistently and completely speak nothing but shameless untruths. There is simply a loss of capacity to take in scientific facts or common knowledge that demonstrate the veritatistic falsehood. Media have finally, with great reluctance out of respect for the office of the president, begun using the word “lies.” This has no impact on the poor victim of veritatitis.
Psychoepidemiologists are alarmed by the apparent spread of veritatitis to a growing number of victims, noting that Washington D.C. is one of several hot spots for this disease. Alarmingly, the leaders of Brazil and the United Kingdom are among recent victims of this dangerous epidemic.
At present there is no known cure for veritatitis, but there is some promise in an old vaccine called democracillin. It has fallen out of use in most countries and results of experiments in the U.S. are being awaited breathlessly.
Pete Sabey retired two years ago from a long practice as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. His doctorate in Counseling Psychology is from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He lives in Grass Valley.
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