Yale psychiatrist explains why Trump loves autocrats for their 'cruelty'
President Donald Trump's manner with Russian leader Vladimir Putin was in contrast to the anger he flashed at NATO allies. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump once again ramped up his attacks on lawmakers of color, calling Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) a "racist" on Twitter, and deriding Baltimore as vermin-infested.

In other news, the president nominated Rep. John Radcliffe (R-TX) to be his new intelligence chief, after the resignation of Dan Coates. That prompted concerns that Radcliffe, a firm supporter or president Trump, might suppress information related to Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Raw Story spoke with Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist and an expert on violence at Yale School of Medicine. She helped launch a public health approach to global violence prevention as a consultant to the World Health Organization and other United Nations bodies since 2002. She is author of the textbook, “Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures,” president of the World Mental Health Coalition, and editor of the New York Times bestseller, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” Last week, she and her coauthors presented their mental health analysis of the Mueller report in a national online town hall as well as unveiled five critical questions that arose out of their analysis (for more information, visit: dangerouscase.org).

Raw Story: The Trump administration has suffered another resignation, of National Intelligence Director Dan Coats. Will all this shakeup ever stop?

Dr. Bandy X. Lee: Dan Coats’ departure should be a clear signal about the serious state of our national security. One such resignation is a red flag, but now he is one of the last among Donald Trump’s original security staff. Patterns are difficult to deny: Mr. Trump has shown little room to concern himself with national security but has many overriding concerns that will rather place it at risk.

These are the very traits we expect from a person lacking mental capacity, as our analysis of the highly detailed, rigorous Mueller report revealed of the president. Denying information that does not comport with his wishful thinking, firing or forcing the resignation of those who contradict him, being too busy with this to fix the actual situation, and engaging in psychological manipulation to deflect and distract the public—all this is consistent with our findings. There is little reason to believe it will stop without immediate, severe, and decisive intervention.

Raw Story: Your assessments are proving to be correct, and your predictions have come true with uncanny accuracy.

Lee: Mental health assessments are hypotheses that we continually test against evidence. They are much like scientific experiments. Once you have enough information to be confident that it will not be refuted, you form a conclusion. This is what we have done with the contents of the Mueller report. Hence, a personal examination is not always required. A valid assessment depends on what you are assessing, the quality of the information, and whether you have enough information to come to a conclusion.

Our assessment of the president has been confident for some time, and conclusive with the Mueller report. We stated very early on, for example, that despite South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s deft brokering of talks with North Korea, the global situation would remain the same or become more dangerous, since Mr. Trump was not likely to delegate. We also predicted that Mr. Trump’s pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran would worsen global security and potentially lead to a nuclear war, given his psychological disposition; national security analysts have now informed us that this is indeed the direction in which he is now heading.

We would now conjecture that Russians will likely attack our elections in 2020 at greater scale, enough to reelect the president, based on his and his cronies’ reactions. The degree to which events have fit our predictions speaks not to our foreign policy expertise, but the degree to which psychological factors have played a role in the president’s decisions.

A conversation needs to happen between mental health experts and policy people. As in all public health interventions, leaving any perspective out will give an erroneous picture. Mental pathology, especially, is beyond most people’s imagination. The president’s recent rallies, again, are a demonstration of “shared psychosis” or “follie à millions”—madness by the millions—a phenomenon psychiatrists and psychologists have well documented.

Raw Story: What do you make of the president’s racist remarks against House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings?

Lee: We have noted that the president’s racist attacks have to do with his racism, certainly, but also reveal what little tolerance he has of oversight and any investigation that would reveal the truth. His attacks on Mr. Cummings thus has a connection to Mr. Coats’ resignation, as it does to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s performance last week (I have noted elsewhere why Mr. Mueller’s testimony had the results we predicted:


It also has a connection to his policy of torturing migrant families, his reinstitution of the federal death penalty, and his affinity for autocratic leaders, not in spite of but because of their cruelty. Racism will not only “come out of the shadows” but will turn virulent, as will torture, injustice, and human rights abuses. This is why we stated, at the end of our town hall last week (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/healthcare/dangerous-to-an-unprecedented-degree-psychiatrists-warn-congress-that-trump-incites-violence), that we cannot further delay containing this president.

We must remember the lead-up to the 2018 election, which produced the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history and the unprecedented political targeting by a pipe bomber. We have had racist presidents in the past, but no recent ones have translated directly into unprecedented hate crimes starting on the morning after election, deadly neo-Nazi rallies, doubling of white supremacist murders during the first year in office, and a new report showing a jump in domestic terrorism that is mostly white nationalist. We have to prepare for the 2020 campaign being much worse.

Raw Story: How can we get more of this known to the general public?

Lee: No expert would dispute the fact that thought reform by controlling information is detrimental to the public’s health and ability to protect its own safety. Yet this is what impaired leaders require and what the American Psychiatric Association responded to when it issued a gag rule that allowed no exceptions or even implementation of the original Goldwater rule. The original Goldwater rule was a mandate to act on behalf of public health to educate about public figures when asked—without diagnosing. The APA under Trump only emphasized the outdated part: that a personal examination is required for diagnosis, when this is no longer true according to research or practice guidelines.

The public should demand investigation of the president’s mental capacity. Someone who has a guilty mind—or “mens rea,” as we call it—will be all the more dangerous when also lacking mental capacity. “Just” a guilty mind, for example, may stop short of destroying the world if there were nothing to be gained from it. Someone who lacks mental capacity, on the other hand, may inflate self-image in grotesque ways, more so with more time spent in power, and easily sacrifice national security for it. This is why it is important to know that mental incapacity can coexist with criminal responsibility, and of the two, mental incapacity is the greater national security emergency.