Dr. Bandy X. Lee is a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, president of the World Mental Health Coalition and editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.
How Trump’s Mental Illness Infected 48% of the Electorate
“What is wrong with 68 million Americans?” is a question many are asking the day after the election. Why should the race even be close? Why did 48% of voting adults choose to remain with a president who leaves a trail of hundreds of thousands✎ EditSign of unnecessary deaths, the nation bankrupt, children in cages, and our natural habitat under existential threat?
It makes no rational sense—unless we correctly identify the problem. For almost four years, mental health professionals have been urging the nation to bring a mental health perspective to a mental health problem, instead of assuming that everything is political. All substitute approaches have failed, just as the best pandemic control comes from infectious disease specialists, not from a radiologist or economists. We have also anticipated the current situation as a product of having mental pathology in power for a prolonged period.
. . . .
For months, Donald Trump has been emotionally calibrating his words and actions, like a delicate seismograph capable of sensing the exact mood of the country and how to respond in order to mobilize his followers. That led to ambiguous results on election night. While it may seem to defy rationality, it was very closely and accurately anticipated by many colleagues in the mental health field. This is why we repeatedly recommended that mental health experts be consulted to help prevent election theft, which would be attempted largely through psychological manipulation and symptom contagion.
. . . .
Many of his followers will equally experience his downfall as a life-or-death matter, since he has conditioned this into them. Their bond is pathological to start, based on developmental wounds or regression to an earlier stage of development under stress, which led them to seeking a parental figure. They are thus vulnerable to someone manipulative and exploitative enough to say he will take care of them and protect them in unrealistic ways that defy reality. And once they do, they often give up their agency and rationality. Recent footage of his followers chanting, “Fire Fauci!” is disturbing in its depiction of their conformity, loss of personality, and alignment with Donald Trump’s thinking—to suggest proactively that he remove the reminder of his unwanted reality: the pandemic. Delusions, paranoia, and violence-proneness are among the most contagious symptoms, and we see all these tendencies in his followers.
Under these emotional bonds, his followers will likely experience any threat to his position as an existential threat to themselves . . . .
How Trump’s Psychosis Infects His Followers: Trump’s Madness Has Spread to Rudy Giuliani, His Rank-and-File Supporters and Much of the Republican Party
Adopting Trump’s Delusions
Unlike Trump, I have closely interacted with many Trump supporters and can personally attest to their uniformity in many psychological respects. . . .
“Shared psychosis” or “folie à millions” (madness by the millions) has been well-documented by renowned mental health experts such as Carl Jung and Erich Fromm. This contagion of symptoms dissipates when exposure to the primary person is reduced, which is why Donald Trump holds rallies as if his life depended on them—psychically, it does. It is also the reason why he cannot leave the presidency—in addition to the possibility of prosecution.
However, these are also the very reasons why he is extremely dangerous. . . .
‘You Can’t Separate Trump’s Mental Health From His Voters’: Q&A With Mental Health Expert Dr. Bandy Lee
The particular traits that Mr. Trump has, furthermore, can be confusing: a lack of control can be seen as honesty, tendencies to go into attack mode can be seen as strength (whereas they more often arise from profound feelings of weakness and inadequacy), and the intense desire to ‘sense’ others in order to overpower them by deceiving and manipulating them can be mistaken for empathy (whereas in fact it is the opposite of empathy, since the goal is to cheat, or to promise one thing and then bring the opposite).
Those who are most subject to this kind of luring and predation are often the most vulnerable, who have been victimized in the past—’the forgotten men and women’—and the magnitude of the deception may conspire with psychological protection mechanisms against pain to avoid seeing the truth, sometimes at all cost.”
Does this explain how Trump ‘feeds’ his base?
“Yes, this explains the undying devotion of some members of his ‘base’, regardless of the policies that are revealed (for example, his billionaire cabinet that is greater than any “swamp” in history, a tax reform that essentially steals from the poor to give to the rich, or repeated attempts at healthcare reform that would only take away from those who have little).
All Mr. Trump needs to do is to give out the most meager evidence—crumbs—that he is “working for them,” and they will desperately gather them as proof that they were correct about him.
Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)
- Another Angle on Paul - 2023-03-20 05:40:12 GMT+0000
- Jesus’ Unheroic Moment in Gethsemane – and a return to Vridar/Vardis Fisher - 2023-03-17 09:12:36 GMT+0000
- From Humble Beginnings: A Tale of Two Divinities — Jesus and Apollo - 2023-03-15 09:09:56 GMT+0000
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!
8 thoughts on ““The coming weeks and months will be the most dangerous period of this presidency””
Trump is just the latest god to have a cult.
“Many of his followers will equally experience his downfall as a life-or-death matter, since he has conditioned this into them.”
It’s as if the author thinks of Donald Trump as the Riddler turning a massive brain drain device on a helpless American public. But how can anyone who is a rational and mentally healthy adult (much less near half of an entire population) be led around the nose by an obvious liar whose dishonesty has been pointed out by all media (including Fox News) and is evident by his contradicting his own health experts among many other examples. Pre-existing mental illness, excessive life stress, and generally poor brain health among the population is the only explanation available. No one has “jedi mind tricks” to make people believe things that are evidently false and knowably false due to freely available expert testimony to the contrary. Poor brain health among much or most of the American public is an independently established fact, depression affects 1 in 4 Americans. The suicide rate has been steadily going up year after year. Mounting Income inequality with a rising cost of living create stress in people’s lives and probably accounts for the record number of young adults living with family, shocking upticks in food insecurity across several demographics, record numbers of adults working two jobs, Etc. Hitler rose to power during deep economic distress in Germany. Trump is a tamer version of the same phenomenon and due to similar causes. Trump did not create the times, the times created Trump.
There is in one sense something to that scenario that you question at the start of your comment, according to Bandy X Lee. She writes in another DC Report article,
From: How Trump’s Psychosis Infects His Followers: Trump’s Madness Has Spread to Rudy Giuliani, His Rank-and-File Supporters and Much of the Republican Party
Hi Nicholas. I posted the following on your Hume’s Apprentice blog:
I know the general readership here at Vridar are probably skeptical of “conspiracy theories” and generally I am as well, however I would ask you all to consider the reality that politics has become a new fanatical religion in the USA and in broader Western Civilization. Here your messiah of choice is constantly battling against the other side’s messiah of choice, who from your cult’s perspective is Satan incarnate. Initiates on both sides tremble in fear as they behold the chaos being released by the other side! If only their chosen messiah could prevail all would be restored to peace and order for 1000 years! But if one takes a step back from all of this narrative which is constantly being repeated from the news outlets and YouTube channels, it suddenly becomes obvious that it’s all just a passion play, a distraction. The narrative is a lie the dichotomy is false, it’s only another silly myth that has drawn you in. I sincerely believe that the irrational faith that so many now put in this religion has blinded them to the fact that it is all falling apart and there will be no messiah. Politicians have no more ability of saving you than a priest does.
Hi Morris. What I think you are describing is the propaganda media war mixed with cultural conflict. The cultural conflict is easily transformed into a set of competing misunderstandings and wrong judgements. The outrage over “political correctness” on one side is really a cipher for a deeper conflict that is related more to socioeconomic gaps (one side feeling dispossessed or left behind as the seems to leap ahead economically), economic and ideological conflicts are often a screen for what is at bottom a fear of “the other race” or “outsider immigrant” intruding and changing the more familiar old way of life, and so forth.
In such an environment it is tempting for opposing sides to speak in the language of exaggerated fear and entrenched ignorance.
I would like to think that if one listens carefully one can hear some voices who do speak with some calm and understanding and who are proposing fixes, not immediate or easy solutions, but options that can develop a healthier society over time.
But then again, maybe given the history, culture and demographics of the United States, that is a decidedly harder task there than in many other nations.
I have never supported Donald Trump, but I was employed for a couple of years in the mental-health business. That experience taught me that the scientific basis of psychology is weak at best, if not practically nonexistent.