Pete Sabey: Our president is sick
Too much of the media commentary on President Trump’s actions still treats him as if he were a normal, rational person. If that were the case, the best you could say of him and many of his millions of devoted followers is that they are functioning at a medieval mindset mixed with a modern streak of fascism.
But Trump is not a well or normal man. He is seriously mentally ill, and his illness has spread through the Republican Party like a pandemic.
Of course, mental illness is not contagious in the way of bacteria and viruses, but there is something that could be described as a collective psychosis — also referred to as “herd mentality” or “deindividuation.” For example, the willingness of 918 people to die for a cult leader like Jim Jones led to the mass suicide in Jonestown. (Like Trump’s shockingly indifferent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jonestown suicides are regarded by many as mass murder.)
Donald Trump has been described by countless mental health experts as “paranoid and delusional,” as well as either a “narcissistic sociopath” or a “sociopathic narcissist.”
These are not mere descriptions of a personality style, nor are they political epithets; they are among the most serious mental illnesses in the category of personality disorders (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association).
These personality disorders are among the most resistant to therapy. Not that Trump would go to a therapist, much less speak truthfully.
Now, even as Trump has lost all the way to the Supreme Court and Biden and Harris have been officially elected by the Electoral College, Trump’s delusional denial that he lost infected a violent and heavily armed minority. As we’ve seen, this poses an imminent threat to our constitutional democracy.
As I first began to write down these thoughts on Nov. 7, not long after Joe Biden was declared president-elect by most news media (including Fox News!). I heard one of the Boogaloo Bois quoted as declaring “I am ready to die for President Trump before I’ll live in a communist country!”
As a recently retired therapist, I regard this kind of disordered thinking as part of a collective psychosis created by the cult of Donald Trump.
I would not go to the extreme of calling the entire GOP collectively psychotic, but the re-election of profoundly sociopathic leaders like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham bodes ill for the next four years. (The term sociopath essentially means an underdeveloped or substantially missing conscience. Need I elaborate?)
More immediately worrisome, we are still stuck with a mentally ill defeated loser whose narcissism is creating a terrifying ego collapse. Trump is intent on leaving as much wreckage as he can for the Biden administration to try to solve in the face of senatorial obstruction: a surging pandemic, the collapsing economy with such widespread suffering, the stripping of expertise at the career civil service core that makes our government work, even to the violent storming of the Capitol.
It would not be an exaggeration to call Trump’s actions sabotage. But as a result, in 2022 and 2024, Republicans will run against the allegedly “failed” Democrat administration.
Over 70 million Americans voted for Trump and locally for dangerously sociopathic GOP senators, corrupt U.S. representatives like Doug LaMalfa and Devin Nunes, and for right-wing state legislators.
This empowers their naked effort to suppress minority voters or not count their ballots. Add to this a greater ability to gerrymander districts after the census, and the country is relentlessly tilted ever farther to the right.
The danger to democracy is great, but that danger has never been “socialism” (wrongly defined as “communism”). It has always been authoritarianism (often referred to using the benign-sounding word “populism”). To put it more bluntly, the danger has always been a slide into fascism.
Apart from the fortuitous election of two Democrat senators in the Georgia runoff, which will forestall the worst of McConnell’s obstructionism, does anybody have a clue how to cure this mental health infection in almost a third of the body politic?
Pete Sabey lives in Nevada County.
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“You’ve heard me say this before: Every acre can and will burn someday in this state” — Cal Fire Director Thom Porter.