Truth or Dare?

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Would you want to know ahead of time if your future president suffered from a dangerous, incurable character defect — not mental illness — that was typical for all tyrants in the history of human race?

What if that defect, with its predictable manifestations and consequences, was described to you early on, so you could perhaps help prevent the tyrant’s rise to power? Or, if too late for that, at least understood what to expect and pursue appropriate action as his reign took hold?

Would you want to know?

This knowledge is easily available, though for some reason we prefer not to find it, and that’s as our government, country, and the entire world come under threat from just such a characterologically defective leader and his circle of similarly impaired enablers.

Yet we don’t want to see it, and we loathe talking about it, even though, as Lee Siegal reminds us, avoiding questions about Trump’s mental unhealth is “a betrayal of the public trust, a denial of human nature, and an insult to posterity.”*

In a September 2016 post, The Red Herring of the Candidates’ (Physical) Health, I wrote:

If / when Trump is elected and proceeds to dismantle our democracy (yes, we know this is a very real possibility, thanks to correct diagnosis, as chaos and destruction are assured by his character defect; but he also said so, should there be any doubts), will we perhaps revisit and rethink the Goldwater Rule? If we have that chance, of course, and courage and a desire to do so.

The dismantling of our democracy is in full swing now and proceeds according to schedule.

Make no mistake: What we are witnessing is not some incompetent bumbling of political novices, but purposeful and vengeful destruction of our government, country, and possibly — if the pathocratic Trump/Bannon cabal is allowed to remain in power unopposed— the world.

Destruction and mayhem, in addition to an autocratic rule, are guaranteed when a pathocracy led by a malignant narcissist takes over a government of any nation.

Even if we knew nothing of the darkly vindictive ideology that drives Trump/ism, we could predict what’s in store for us based on the understanding of the psychopathology of the characters involved. (And we did — some of us, that is.) The specific ideas which such individuals use to justify their controlling, sadistic and destructive urges vary, but the motivations remain the same, leading to similar outcomes. Trump/ism is not much different from, say, ISIS — in fact, it is its mirror image.

But somehow we still cannot, will not, do not want to acknowledge the Destroyer’s-in-Chief character defect and its predictable consequences and prognosis even as they unfold in front of our very eyes, step-by-every-unsurprising-step.

We — some of us, who tried to alert the media and America of the upcoming dangers — have warned about Trump’s reign of destruction early on, predicting his rise to power and its disastrous consequences based on his pathology and the socio-political conditions of the country and the world.

Our warnings were ignored or dismissed; instead, the media, in deference to and with support of professional organizations like the APA, engaged in a sort of kabuki theater of denials and obfuscations, not very different from those we see daily from the Trump administration (and typical for narcissistic blindness and the defense mechanisms employed in its service).

The past two weeks have brought a new group of professionals publicly expressing concern about Trump’s mental unhealth. There is often (though not always) a distinct and understandable caution in the voices of those who suggest that our commander-in-chief may not be psychologically healthy; and one — but not only — reason for it is the inevitable aggressive and/or contemptuous pushback.

It has to be said that as close as those rightly concerned come to an accurate diagnosis of the problem — and most of them do, with exceptions of some unusual propositions like syphilis or amorous narcissism — they unfortunately misdefine it as mental illness, eliciting the customary now, and not entirely unjustified, criticisms from others.

Interestingly, those professionals who insist that there is something wrong with Trump are met with accusations of launching politically motivated attacks. Such accusations come from both laypeople and other experts.

Yet somehow no one — not in official discussions at least — suggests that those who deny Trump’s character defect may perhaps be politically motivated or otherwise biased, and because of that unable to see what’s apparent to most. This obviously does not occur to Trump’s defenders.

As usual in this most interesting human enterprise that’s seeking truth, gathering knowledge and shaping it for public consumption, what’s true is being determined not so much by objective facts, but by the (acceptable) status and visibility of the speaker. A further proof, as if we needed any, that post-factualness is part of the human condition, rather than something ushered in by Trump/ism. Trump/ism only fans its flames, spreading it faster and wider, and with vengeance characteristic of its pathology. And yes, it is a pathology.

The WaPo has a new slogan in its masthead, Democracy Dies in Darkness; and the NYT unveiled an ad about the importance of truth, with a long, bombastic list of its attributes. This hindsight, if that’s what it is, comes across as profoundly ironic because neither of the papers was interested in the truth and preventing the darkness when it was still possible. They did not want to know. Now, however, they seem to act both shocked and guiltless. It’s little wonder they have no credibility with “the people” and Trump can mock them so easily.

Narcissistic blindness is totally a thing.

*h/t Jeff Kirkpatrick

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A version of this post was originally published at on February 27, 2017.