The below is an example of one of the letters sent out throughout the past year to all mainstream, and some not, American papers and news outlets. Let it be on record that none were interested in not only openly discussing the presidential candidate’s dangerous character defect, but even publishing such letters of concern as this one.
by Elizabeth Mika and Frederick Burkle
As this election season progresses and the “puzzling” behavior of the GOP presidential candidate continues to preoccupy the media and public conversations, there is a peculiar dearth of explanations offered as to its causes.
While Republican politicians opportunistically embrace their party’s leader in futile hopes that he may “pivot” toward their agenda, or at least be controlled, if not reasoned with; the pundits offer their dismayed and scathing opinions of the man, grasping for explanations of the seemingly incomprehensible. And so “How do you solve the problem like The Donald?” becomes a serious concern for exasperated journalists trying to do their job of scrutinizing presidential candidates, but also for the nation that grows increasingly frustrated and exhausted with what appears to be a sordid public spectacle of trying to nail jell-o to the wall.
Meanwhile, those with expertise in just such behaviors, representative of well-defined and described psychopathology, sit back, forced into what appears to be a collusion of silence around the ‘huuuge’ elephant in the room, which is the candidate’s distinct character defect with its all too predictable manifestations and dangerous consequences.
Mindful of the ethical prohibitions against diagnosing strange people from a distance, codified most notably in the so-called Goldwater Rule, several mental health experts nevertheless already offered their informed opinions about the man’s pathology; but those opinions are either “forgotten” by now in the public consciousness or diluted by subsequent well-meaning but incomplete attempts at describing and defining “what drives the man,” attempts that whitewash the seriousness of the candidate’s character problem and its consequences for the public discourse and our future.
There is a fine line between observing the Goldwater Rule and the mental health professionals’ duty to warn the public about dangers posed by individuals with obvious and serious psychological problems – in Trump’s case, a conscienceless drive to power fueled by unbridled grandiosity characteristic for tyrants big and little, past and present.
Finding and toeing that line is a task that looms large in the minds of psychiatrists and psychologists this election season. For what’s the use of our accumulated knowledge and experience if we cannot employ it for public good?
And so, for example, continuing to educate the public about the workings and ramifications of extreme (malignant) narcissism would go a long way, for many, to illuminate the GOP candidate’s seemingly bizarre character. Once this particular malady is explained, the behaviors associated with it become comprehensible and even predictable, though most decidedly no more acceptable.
As it is now, the public as well as the media are mired in confusion, chasing the candidate’s inane and ever-changing pronouncements as if they were a product of a healthy mind. They are most obviously and decidedly not; but not understanding his pathology, people search for meaning in the disordered mind’s barely coherent, self-aggrandizing, and sadistic bloviations heavily seasoned with the necessary for every narcissist sense of victimhood and desire for revenge. The world watches with horrified astonishment and concern as our nation is being hijacked by the tantrums and psychodramas of one man’s pathological psyche.
There must be a way that’s both ethical and legal to educate and warn the public about the dangers inherent in the presidential candidate’s apparent character disorder. It is likely the most pressing task at this moment for both mental health professionals and the journalists who should be working on it in tandem. When historians look back at our time, they will marvel at the peculiar collusion of silence around this issue and wonder why it was not openly discussed before it was too late.
June 6, 2016.
Elizabeth Mika is an Educational Consultant in private practice in the Chicago area. Frederick Burkle is a Psychiatrist with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.