Ari Brouillette: Healing my case of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ | TheUnion.com

Ari Brouillette: Healing my case of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’

Other Voices
Ari Brouillette

Shortly after the 2016 election there was a frenzy of public debate regarding the mental stability of President Donald Trump, which culminated in a petition of over 70,000 self-identified mental health professionals which questioned his mental fitness to hold the office. Now a reverberation of that concern is building.

This movement, however, questions whether or not people have an irrational hatred of the president that is untethered by any real world facts or his performance in office. These afflicted individuals are said to be suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome” or “TDS.”

Rob Whitley, Ph.D. recently wrote for Psychology Today that while TDS could not be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that a common understanding of the condition was “that the everyday activities of President Trump trigger some people into distorted opinions, extreme emotions and hysterical behaviors.” This, dear readers, is the point at which I became worried. I think I have full blown Trump Derangement Syndrome.

I can trace my contraction of this disorder to the earliest days of his presidency when poor Sean Spicer trudged up to the podium of the White House briefing room and declared with no small amount of indignation that the recent inaugural event had featured “the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.” In that very moment the insidious syndrome wrapped its icy fingers around my intellect and began to squeeze. We could see the photos, we could read the metro ridership reports, and we saw the television/internet viewership data. It had been a miserably cold and rainy day in a city in which he had won just over 4% of the votes, what was the point of lying and of lying so poorly?

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I didn’t have the chance to recover, like a boxer hit by a foe that was many times faster than my own ability to react or recover. Windmills cause cancer; jab. He’s a stable genius; pow. Supreme Court Justice Scalia was murdered; uppercut. Senator Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination; roundhouse. Joe Scarborough killed one of his interns; left hook. Good people marched shoulder to shoulder with Nazis shouting “Jews will not replace us;” low blow. I was constantly pressed backward by a man with a singular world class talent for falsehoods, mistruths and mendacity. With the ease and regularity that a normal human breathes he peppered us with lies and the syndrome took full hold of me.

How many lies, you ask? It’s a big number, big enough that you don’t often see this many of any one thing at a time so I’ll need to give you some context. If on moonless and cloudless night in our Sierra Nevada mountains you went to a dark location, maybe a meadow with a wide and expansive view of the night sky you could expect to be able to see somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 individual stars. Trump has told over 16,000 lies since he became president. It is a vast and dazzling galaxy of lies that makes the actual cosmos suffer in comparison.

My only hope to heal and overcome my TDS is to simply learn not to care. For example, Trump has claimed on at least three occasions that his father Fred Trump was born in Germany. He wasn’t. Fred Trump was born in New York; and Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. We know this because we can read. The trap is that you could begin to care. How could one man tell so many lies about where people were born, even his own flesh and blood father? Relax. Breathe slowly. Repeat to yourself, “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.” Wait for normal heart rate and breathing to resume.

But before I declare myself healed, what if some lies do matter? I should have a threshold, something so extreme that I am willing to risk exposing myself to a relapse of TDS. What if this man couldn’t tell the truth about something as fundamental to democracy as the integrity of our elections? What if he loses the election in 2020 and then claims that the election has been rigged and stolen from him? What if, even after that claim has been proven false, he persists and it results in permanent damage to our democracy or even violence?

Could this happen? Consider after even fairly winning the office of the presidency via his Electoral College victory he persisted in claiming that he had won the popular vote because according to him as many as 5 million illegal votes were cast. Ungracious in defeat and victory, losing literally isn’t in his vocabulary and he has even accused the Emmy voting process of being rigged against the TV show The Apprentice. So what are the chances that he will claim the 2020 election to be rigged against him? Roughly 100%.

I guess it all comes back to the inauguration, if he had to lie about that crowd he would gladly sacrifice our democracy at the altar of his ego. On second thought, I’m fine with my Trump Derangement Syndrome. I’ll wear it as a badge of honor.

Ari Brouillette lives in Grass Valley.


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