Yale psychiatrist predicts what Trump might be capable of doing if he feels cornered during a chilling interview published earlier this month.
Editor’s Note: Samuel Warde is the editor-in-chief of Liberals Unite (recently re-branded as The Art of Living) as well as a contributor to Mindy Fischer, Writer. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. You can view a list of his articles here.
Raw Story published a chilling interview earlier this month with Yale psychiatry professor Bandy X. Lee.
Titled “Yale psychiatrist explains how devotion to Trump is based on emotional patterns most people grow out of by age five,” the premise of the interview in Raw Story‘s words was to discuss “why the president’s supporters show such undying devotion to a man who’s repeatedly reneged on promises and whose tumultuous first term has been filled with shake-ups.”
While that portion of the interview was quite interesting, not necessarily illuminating, there was a section towards the middle of the interview that sent chills up and down my spine.
Asked what psychological factors unite the various demographics of Trump supporters that don’t have much in common – such as white women and neo-Nazis – Lee responded that “[Trump] unites them through a common, mythological past that they can all be nostalgic for, and that might be his ‘talent.'” [Think his whole “Make America Great Again,” theme.]
Veering slightly off topic to discuss the symbiotic relationship between Trump and his supporters, Lee talks about Trump’s mindset of an “obsequious follower” coupled with his need for “adulation and approval,” the company of his adoring fans during his near-ceaseless string of campaign-style rallies:
Mr. Trump’s behavioral pattern is not that of leaders at all but rather of obsequious followers, as we have seen Mr. Trump become in the presence of even more successful strongmen, such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, or Rodrigo Duterte. We find in him a pattern of following exactly what his base is looking for—he has no intrinsic philosophy or ideology but is responding to an emotional need for adulation and approval, and so he will try anything that gets as many people on board as possible. He will also sense keenly those who will never go along with his pathological methods—that is, healthy people—and drop them instantly. That is why we see him desperately clinging to an ever narrower base with increasingly fringe ideas.
Continuing, she notes Trump’s pattern of victimizing others to distract from the dirty deeds of his administration.
He also has to scapegoat groups in order to distract from his billionaire cabinet, tax breaks for the rich, and trade wars that hurt his base the most, and so his demonizing of other helpless groups will only increase with time.
Chillingly, she goes on to predict that “there will likely be no limit to the violence [Trump] is capable of” in the wake of the “devastating midterm elections,” a “vulnerable economy,” and “with the special counsel’s investigations about to be released.”
We were worried that he might lead us into a devastating war or stage a terrorist attack, but he actually managed to turn a humanitarian crisis of people fleeing violence into an invading army that required thousands of troops at the Mexican border. If this “feigned war” fails to distract, then he may yet stage a real war. With the special counsel’s investigations about to be released, after devastating midterm elections for him and in a vulnerable economy, he will experience loss of popularity as a terrifying threat to his inflated self-image. There will likely be no limit to the violence he is capable of, since destroying the world would be nothing compared to the shame and humiliation he might suffer.
Lee concluded the interview discussing the potential ramifications of the “shared psychosis” of Trump supporters, suggesting that waiting until the 2020 election to address the Trump problem would be “dangerous and reckless in its lack of understanding of the present danger [Trump] poses.”
There is a phenomenon called “shared psychosis” (also called “folie à deux”) that happens when an untreated sick person is in close proximity to, say, other family members within a household. In such a situation, normal people grow increasingly out of touch with reality and take on symptoms of the person who is unwell. It can also happen with an impaired president—once in power, he becomes not only the most urgent problem that needs to be addressed but a cause of widespread deterioration of health in a way that can become a “folie à millions.” …His unfettered access to the people through Twitter is as dangerous as his unfettered access to the nuclear codes, since he is laying the groundwork for a culture of violence that can unleash epidemics of violence. This is why waiting for the next decision of voters in 2020 is itself dangerous and reckless in its lack of understanding of the present danger the president poses.