Donald Trump has made psychiatrists of us all (I confess me too). It seems obvious that if anyone is “crazy” he is. Even psychiatrists who supposedly as a matter of ethics know better than to diagnose someone they have never met on the basis of newspaper articles and sometimes strange tweets have been unable to resist. He is, they say, a textbook example of a narcissistic personality disorder and they seem to be overjoyed to show us a real one.
The problem is the same problem as when you are diagnosed or I am diagnosed. None of us are what we are called. No name, no label is me or you despite any assurances someone gives you that his particular name is a scientific fact. We have all seen the results of this in our own lives. And what is most important is that when you accept the validity of any name called you make it easier to accept the validity of all names called. If Donald Trump in all his behavioral excesses can be reduced to a psychiatric label, if the truth about Donald Trump is to be a psychiatric truth how much easier will it be for those with less power, those whose experience is different to be reduced to the same psychiatric truth.
This is not simply nitpicking. We live in a society whose first response to so many tragedies is to explain it as a manifestation of a “disease” someone has. More and more there is a discussion about how to protect ourselves from such people and “aren’t they really dangerous” and do we really want to give them the same rights as the rest of us.
Reducing Donald Trump to a psychiatric diagnosis gives psychiatric diagnoses a validity they don’t deserve. The problem with Donald Trump is not what he has, but who he is. The problem with Donald Trump is the choices he makes and the things he does. The problem with Donald Trump is the danger he poses to the people in this country and his willingness to judge every decision and event based on how it affects his self interests. The problem with Donald Trump is his values and his ethics and his willingness to do absolutely anything to increase his power and status. The problem with Donald Trump is that he is Donald Trump.
Diagnosis gives us only a cheap victory. It tells us something is settled that is not. There is a political party that goes with him. Many, many people bought into his message and regardless of what you think it is crystal clear there are wider issues that have to be addressed. If Donald Trump was gone tomorrow would anything would anything be really solved. I question that.
I think the real question is not who Donald Trump is but who we are and who we want to be and what we want this country to be. He merely accentuates the question. It is a question for each of us to answer as we can.
Donald Trump is the biggest threat to this country in my lifetime. It is a challenge that will chart the course of this country for years. Resist. So much depends on it.