Mental health expert explains the main reason Trump must be prosecuted

Manhattan's district attorney has convened the grand jury that will determine if charges should be brought against former President Donald Trump. The Boston Globe editorial board has stated that Trump should be criminally prosecuted. These developments have caught the country's attention.

Donald Trump's presidency was an abysmal failure. Americans were constantly bombarded with misinformation, propaganda and gaslighting. We were traumatized by the sickness and death of the coronavirus pandemic that he could have contained and defeated. Our crippled economy created widespread depression and anxiety. Trump's racism, xenophobia, misogyny, nativism, white supremacy and violence were all disturbing forces. His grifting and bashing of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution revealed his shameless greed. His politicization of the Department of Justice for his own personal gain was corruption at its core. And his incitement of the insurrection of our democratic election on Jan. 6 was illegal and the behavior of an authoritarian.

But Trump continues to exert a cult-like influence over millions of Americans who are devoted to him in a "collective narcissism." Trump's supporters view him as an all-knowing, charismatic leader who is going to lead them to the promised land of happiness by airing their grievances and marginalizing people of color, Muslims, and immigrants. In return, Trump relishes his supporters because they give him the praise, adulation and unconditional respect he so desires. They fill up his insatiable need for narcissistic supply. He secretly abhors his supporters but uses them to bolster his self-image of greatness and invincibility.

To be sure, Trump and his supporters have a bond that is intense and irrational. How to break their collective narcissism is the critical question we face.

The answer is that Donald Trump must be prosecuted and punished for his crimes, especially the ones committed during his presidency, such as obstruction of justice during the Mueller probe, efforts to tamper with Georgia's secretary of state, his incitement of the insurrection and perhaps even conscious disregard or worse for the more than 500,000 coronavirus deaths under his watch.

Trump supporters will be convinced of his menace if they see him being prosecuted and punished. Being held accountable will chip away at his cult-like reverence. A bright light needs to be cast on the sordid details of his reprehensible behavior. His fall from grace will be hastened if his supporters see him sentenced to incarceration.

Trump's reign of terror on the American public was fueled by his belief that he would not be punished for it — that he could break laws with impunity. This is exactly why his prosecution is so important. He must face firm consequences so that his supporters will finally understand and accept the objective truth: Trump is a con man and greedy opportunist who unleashed his cruelty, corruption and anti-democratic leanings on all of us.

Not prosecuting and punishing Trump would send the unacceptable message that certain politicians who engage in wrongdoing are above the law. In our democracy, no one should be above the law. Politicians are our elected officials who must serve with honor, integrity, and the public's best interest at heart. We cannot condone corrupt politicians by sticking our heads in the sand or turning a blind eye. Democracy is weakened if our president's illegalities and misdeeds go unheeded.

Many other steps need to be taken to purge Trump from our political consciousness. Keeping him permanently off social media outlets is a necessity. Not nominating him to run again for the presidency is a given. And Congress needs to pass new laws that constrain future presidents from breaking norms and laws.

Once Trump begins to lose his supporters, his political clout will melt away. Perhaps then the Republican party will stop its complicity and new, fresh leadership can step forward. Our democracy works best in a two-party system. Unfortunately, the Republican party has been transformed into the ugly image of the former president. It will take outside forces — like the full and transparent prosecution of all charges — for the party to untether itself from the malignancy of Trump himself.

In strong democracies, it is not unheard of to hold politicians accountable for their crimes. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was tried in 2021 for crimes he committed during his 2007 presidential campaign. He was found guilty. Another former French President, Jacques Chirac, was charged with crimes that occurred previously to his presidency, while he was mayor of Paris. In 2011, four years after leaving presidential office, he was tried and found guilty of corruption.

Prosecution and punishment of Donald Trump is the key to unlocking his bond of collective narcissism with his supporters. Nothing short of that will convince millions of Americans of his dangerousness and unfit stature. This major step must happen if America is to move past the unprecedented burden of our criminal ex-president.

Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and the entire GOP have learned a dark lesson from their former master

Sen. Ted Cruz is a proud disciple of Donald Trump's legacy to America — his weaponization of alternate reality. In recent days, Cruz has been positively Trumpian in his betrayal and lack of empathy regarding his family's getaway to a beach resort in Mexico while his state was paralyzed by a catastrophic winter storm. To make matters worse, Cruz championed an alternate reality by concocting different versions of the "truth" with a web of lies and shifting blame to his children. For now, his alternate reality appears to have won the day.

Sen. Ron Johnson claims that the mood among the demonstrators at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was largely "positive," and that there were "fake Trump protesters" in the crowd. In proclaiming this blatant falsehood, Johnson is egging on the millions of Trump supporters who still believe that the election was stolen from their leader. Alternate reality lives on.

At the conclusion of Trump's second impeachment trial, he was acquitted for his role in the insurrection at the Capitol. Despite being presented with mountains of audio and video evidence from that fateful day, 43 out of 50 Republican senators voted to exonerate him. It was not just cowardice or foolishness that led to their votes. No, they made a purposeful decision to follow their cult leader into the abyss of his alternate reality. According to Trump, his speech that morning to the escalating mob was "totally appropriate." Alternate reality triumphed over observable truth on center stage.

Trump has created his alternate reality to bolster his fragile ego and to advance his political fortunes. He has used it to cover up his evident character defects and to persuade others to believe in his greatness and superiority. His "reality" consists of "big lies," small lies, conspiracy theories, misinformation, propaganda, false narratives and violence. He is masterful — although deeply corrupt — at blurring and even shattering truth for his political advantage. In Trump's fantasyland, there is no oversight, no accountability and no laws that apply to him. The means justify the ends. Anything he says or does is acceptable as long as it brings him attention, adoration, profit and power.

Unfortunately for our country, Trump's use of alternate reality has become the ideology of the Republican Party and nearly half of all Americans. This explains why most of the party and legions of followers still support a man who has been impeached twice, botched the deadly coronavirus pandemic, crashed the economy and incited an insurrection against our government. This is what happens when a demagogue promulgates a "reality" that carries the weight of the presidency but is inherently toxic and pernicious.

A large swath of America has adopted and internalized Trump's use of alternate reality. Millions of Americans have been brainwashed into accepting his distorted reality. They view Trump as their cult leader who possesses the qualities of greatness. They believe in his alternate reality — even his blatant lies, his outlandish conspiracy theories and his provocation of violence. And now, they believe that the use of alternate reality by both politicians and followers is smart and effective strategy.

Trump's alternate reality is wholly malignant and dangerous because it undermines objective truth. It is a myth. It is an illusion. Trump is a salesman, a carnival barker, a con man. He has no interest in people, policy or public service. All he cares about is selling himself — his personal and commercial brand — through his lies, his conspiracy theories and his propaganda. Anything is fair game, even an alternate reality that is nonsensical and poisonous.

Trump's use of alternate reality is antithetical to democratic principles and the Constitution. He does not love democracy and he does not love America. He wants to destroy it. He is an authoritarian at heart. He orchestrated and incited an insurrection against our government, intended to overthrow the will of the people. His singular goal was to maintain his power at any cost. If that had happened, his alternate reality would have lived on and flourished. We would have become a country of lies, conspiracy theories, propaganda and violence — also known as an authoritarian state.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are the antidotes to Trump's alternate reality. They function within the context of facts, the truth and science. They have not constructed an alternate reality that is self-serving and virulent. They cherish democracy and understand that its sustainability requires observable and transparent truth.

The solution is for Trump to be marginalized and purged. Even now that he is out of office, he has hit the airwaves to continue to spread the "Big Lie" that he won the election. He will never accept or understand that his alternate reality is destructive to the well-being of our people. Nor does he care. He still thinks it is his sure-fire ticket to success. After all, he became president and came close to winning re-election by convincing Americans that his "exceptionalism" could be theirs too — and that their lives would be better for it. Please tell the families of the 500,000 dead Americans that their lives are better. Please tell the millions of Americans who are jobless, broke and frightened that their lives are improved.

Americans must stop being lazy and complacent about figuring out the observable truth. They cannot let partisan bias allow their thinking to be hijacked by an alternate reality. Cable news networks and social media platforms must make truth their sole vehicle of communication. Fox News, OAN, Newsmax, Facebook and other entities must take responsibility for promoting truth over fiction, facts over lies and critical observation over conspiracy theories.

Trump's weaponization of alternate reality must be repudiated once and for all. Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and other congressional Republicans need to rebuke Trump's alternate reality — and must stop creating their own for purely selfish and political reasons.

There is only one truth — the objective truth. What Donald Trump and his cohorts do not want you to know is that truth is the one "real" ticket to success in a democracy based on freedom, rule of law and the will of the people. History shows that our country has never been divided by alternate reality versus the truth in such a stark and destructive way. It would be so much easier for us to govern ourselves if we could make objective truth our top, shared priority.

The use of alternate reality by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, or anyone else — including millions of Americans — is unacceptable, anti-democratic and venomous to our way of life. Observable, verifiable and transparent truth is what our democracy is founded upon. Without that, all is lost.

Donald Trump is an attention addict — his appearance at CPAC will offer the latest proof

There is no rational or reasonable explanation why Donald Trump is even considering another presidential run in 2024. He has no agenda. He has no real ideology other than his self-aggrandizement and greed. He had a dreadfully inept, contentious and fractious term as president from 2017 to 2021. He is probably facing imminent civil and criminal legal charges. He is in financial dire straits. He lost his last election by 7 million votes.

Trump's upcoming appearance at CPAC this weekend, however, clearly signals that another presidential campaign may be in his sights. A return to private life may not be enough for him. There is a longstanding tradition that ex-presidents retreat into the background so the new president can shine. But that does not fit Donald Trump's psyche. Just the opposite is true: He wants to spoil Joe Biden's time in the sun by stealing as much attention away from him as possible.

The real explanation is that Donald Trump is an attention addict. He is addicted to the attention that national political life brings him. He is addicted to running for president and to being president. It is all about satiating his needs and wants — and cravings. Attention is his psychic oxygen. He feels like he is dying mentally when attention is not forthcoming. He does not differentiate between positive attention and negative attention — either will do in his jonesing mind. As with an oppositional child, even negative attention makes him feel energized and powerful.

Trump's attention addiction was in full force during his presidential term. He held more than 80 pep rallies so that he could bask in the glow of the attention from the masses. And his almost nonstop tweeting — late into the night and distressingly early in the morning — showed that he was addicted to instant attention.

The fact that Trump is an attention addict is hardly a reason for us to allow him to run for president again. We would not let a known heroin addict be mayor. We would not let an opioid addict become governor. We would not let a benzodiazepine addict be a senator. So we should not let an attention addict be our president.

Why? Because all elected officials take a sworn oath to protect the public's safety and well-being. An attention addict, by definition, cannot possibly meet that obligation. The public good is of no concern to an addict whose sole mission in life is to consume more and more of the sought-after prize.

Trump has already proven that his addiction interferes with his capacity to be a public servant. His addiction kept him from solving the existential crises that our country faced: a deadly pandemic, a crashed economy, racial and economic inequality, domestic violence, immigration and many others.

He could not even facilitate the orderly and peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden once he lost the election. He had to incite an insurrection of our government in an attempt to hold onto power — and attention. This just shows you the lengths an addict will go to maintain his addiction.

Trump needs intervention for his addiction. He needs a treatment plan that includes abstinence from attention, expression of remorse to those he has aggrieved, a concrete plan for his future without attention and ongoing, uninterrupted individual and group therapy.

The public should not exacerbate his attention addiction. It is not what he needs. Let us not make his attention addiction worse by electing him again. He would fail miserably. After all, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

It is not what we need as a country either. We are a huge, diverse republic that has many challenges ahead. We do not need an addict running our country. We need leadership that is wise, seasoned and serious. Joe Biden seems to fit the bill for the moment — he does not have an attention addiction. We go days without seeing him and hearing him. He is doing his job without fanfare. He is solving problems without the constant need to take credit. He has brilliant people around him and allows them to garner their own attention. He never brags, exaggerates, fabricates or spreads conspiracy theories.

We need to leave the attention addicts to the entertainment business. Attention addiction there is much more adaptive and rewarding since attention is the "real" currency in that business.

We are exhausted from having an attention addict run our country. He ran us into the ground, all the while just wanting our attention. Why didn't he just ask for it? Why did he have to put us through so much upheaval and tumult? That was his addiction talking.

Perhaps Trump can reprise "The Apprentice" on a major television network. That would be squarely in his wheelhouse. Had he stayed on that show to begin with, hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died might still be alive.

That is proof enough that we should not have an attention addict in our national leadership. Trump must be disqualified from elected office. We must not subject ourselves to his dangerous and self-destructive addiction again.

Let us hope Trump gets the help he needs. Even more important, let's hope we are smart enough to discourage him from running for another term. We have already fed his addiction for far too long.

Republicans in Congress have doubled down on Trump's attempted coup -- here's why we can't tolerate that

"We fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

These were the words of then-President Donald Trump as he addressed a large, hostile crowd in front of the White House on Jan. 6, 2021.

It has now been more than a month since Trump and his congressional allies incited and supported the insurrection against our country's democracy. It was an attempt by a mob of violent seditionists to attack the Capitol and stop Congress from affirming the Electoral College victory of Joe Biden. This was planned and orchestrated by the sitting president with the hope that he could remain in power against the will of the people. Five people died. Dozens of police officers were injured. Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were in grave danger of being seized and murdered. It was an unimaginable and indescribable scene of terror. Many of the insurrectionists had tactical gear and communications equipment. They roamed the halls with zip ties hunting for Pence and Pelosi. They built gallows and chanted death threats. They beat a police officer with a pole bearing the U.S. flag. And let us not forget that President Trump chose not to intervene when the violence began. With the resources at his disposal, he easily and rapidly could have.

Never in our 245-year history has our democracy been actively sabotaged by a sitting president and his congressional sycophants. The events of Jan. 6, 2021 will be highlighted in all history books going forward. The insurrection of our election will never be forgotten. Its significance is on par with Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day).

Donald Trump was quickly impeached — for the second time — for his incitement of this insurrection. At this writing, he is about to stand trial in the Senate. He is refusing to testify. Trump's behavior in the insurrection is easily explained by his psychopathic personality and his unrelenting desire to remain in power, despite losing both the popular vote (for a second time) and the Electoral College vote. Those of us who are mental health professionals predicted his pathological and violent response to his election defeat. No one should be surprised by the depth of his crass, repugnant and anti-democratic behavior. After all, everything is about Trump — the welfare of the country and its people be damned.

The Republican Party has been complicit with Trump for four years and counting. It has enabledhis quest to obtain absolute authority, politicize the Justice Department in his behalf, grift the American people and break norms, rules and laws with impunity. Republicans have been walking side-by-side with Trump every step of the way during his march to transform democracy into his own brand of authoritarianism. The insurrection was to be Trump's final accomplishment in his mission. He failed — but it was a close call. It was a bungled coup attempt that matched the ineptness of his past four years in office. A more intelligent and capable man might have pulled it off.

It is unlikely that Republican senators will have the insight and courage to convict Trump during his impeachment trial. Their complicity will continue. Their support of Trump's insurrection is crystal clear. They have tried to distract us by saying we must "move on." They want us to deny the objective reality of their full-throated endorsement of Trump's self-serving conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him.

Congressional Republicans who supported Trump's overthrow of the democratic election must be rooted out. On the morning of the Capitol attack, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado tweeted, "Today is 1776."

Some congressional Republicans had reportedly given tours to the insurrectionists on Jan. 5. Eight Senators and 139 representatives supported at least one objection to the already-certified Electoral College vote. They promulgated false and fake conspiracy theories about how the election had been stolen from Trump, and cast their votes to support an authoritarian president who wanted to remain in power in defiance of the Constitution. Their entire scenario was a lie — the Big Lie — but they maintained their allegiance to their cult leader even though an insurrection against our government had occurred just the day before.

Sen. Ted Cruz supported the insurrection and actually engaged in fundraising during it. At least three newspapers in Texas have called for his resignation. Sen. Josh Hawley was in full support of Trump's efforts to remain in power despite the will of the people. He cheered on the mob attackers with the now indelible image of his raised clenched fist. Newspapers in Missouri are calling for his resignation. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has talked out of both sides of his mouth about Trump's role in the insurrection, and has refused to disavow the dangerous conspiracy theories about a stolen election. Sen. Lindsey Graham has voiced his disapproval of the impeachment of Trump for the insurrection. Sen. Ron Johnson is blaming Pelosi for the mob's actions. Rep. Matt Gaetz traveled to Wyoming to rile up supporters to punish Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican House whip, because she supported Trump's impeachment. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a newcomer to Congress, has been an outspoken supporter of Trump's efforts to remain in power. Rep. Mo Brooks has gone on the record to support Trump and his fake conspiracy theories about the election. The list goes on and on. But Congress, the media and historians need to do what has been started here: List the seditionists by name and call out their treachery.

Since the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Republican Party has degenerated and gravitated to the fringe of the extremists, showcased by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others. Their support of Trump is stronger and more irrational than ever — despite the fact that he has been defeated and disgraced.

There are some reasonable Republicans who have spoken out against Trump and the insurrectionists. Sens. Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Lisa Murkowski have led the way, yet their words have been drowned out by the loud voices of the Q party who are doubling down on their blatant lies and conspiracy theories.

We have just witnessed an attempted coup against our democratic election. If the insurrectionists had been successful, Donald Trump would still be in high office and our democracy would be in shambles. We would no longer have open and free elections. We would no longer have three branches of government, the rule of law and a free press. Lies, conspiracy theories, violence and authoritarianism would prevail. Our country would be transformed into the psychopathic image of Donald Trump.

Accountability must be our mantra as we try to recover from the trauma of Jan. 6. Sticking our collective heads in the sand will not help us maintain and renew our democratic experiment. Reprimand and censure are far too weak for the offenses at hand. An attempted overthrow of our democracy requires nothing short of expulsion. There is no more egregious and reprehensible offense an elected official can commit.

It is time for us to clean house of all seditionists and traitors. We cannot allow them to remain in the sacred halls of Congress. They are a cancer that has metastasized. They are anti-democratic and anti-American outliers. Their voices and their influence must be stamped out decisively.

Please remember that not one of these congressional Republicans has shown an ounce of regret or shame for their actions on or before Jan. 6. Not one has apologized to the American people. If anything, they have fortified their position and their resolve. They continue to support Donald Trump and his abortive insurrection. They have not learned a thing. This is a collective lack of conscience shown by a large group of seditionists.

They leave us no choice: The only way to save our democracy is through expulsion, banishment and lasting shame.

Senate Republicans could still save their party from disaster -- but we already know they won't

Make no mistake about it: This is Donald Trump's Republican Party. The party has become a wasteland of Trumpism. Rather than embracing Trump's exit and beginning to reinvent itself, the party has chosen to double down on Trumpism. As a result, the Republican Party is in grave danger of becoming a fringe group, unmoored from reality and antagonistic to democracy. All because of Donald Trump and his four-year history of pathology and self-serving maliciousness.

Trump's mental pathology has been projected onto the country. Divisiveness, tribalism, cruelty, violence, lies, propaganda and conspiracy theories are all manifestations of his pathology. In the beginning, Republicans were enablers who were complicit in Trump's mission of securing absolute power, politicizing the Department of Justice, grifting the American public and breaking all norms, rules and laws with impunity.

Even at the tail end of his regime, many Republicans supported or participated in Trump's incitement of insurrection against our democratic election. Nothing could have been more anti-American and treasonous than an attempted coup of our election process, led by a sitting president. Trump understood that Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were in grave danger and could have been murdered. He did not care a whit. Many congressional Republicans were on board. Some may have given tours to the insurrectionists the day before the Jan. 6 crisis at the Capitol. To be sure, the attempted rebellion against our government was orchestrated and sanctioned by President Trump. It was a history-making, jaw-dropping, America-bashing maneuver by a president who was trying to overturn the will of the people.

After Jan. 6, the Republican party could have reawakened and changed course. Instead, it has regressed into an abyss of extremism, lies, conspiracy theories and threats of violence. House Republicans have refused to repudiate or expel Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who in effect has now become the poster child for the party. Her vile and incendiary rhetoric has not been rebuffed or stamped out, and at best has only been set aside for the moment. Rep. Matt Gaetz has traveled to Wyoming to rile up supporters to denounce Rep. Liz Cheney for the sin of voting to impeach Trump.

Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who led the attempt in the Senate to overturn a legitimate election, have not repudiated the insurrectionists. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has traveled to Florida to kiss Trump's ring and enlist his further influence in the party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks out of both sides of his mouth. Sen. Lindsey Graham is a firm supporter of Trumpism, even while voting to reject the coup attempt itself. The list goes on.

It is inconceivable that all of Trump's 74 million voters are supportive of the aberrant and imploding Republican party. They cannot possibly all believe that wildfires were started by "Jewish space lasers," that school shootings which devastated the entire country were elaborate hoaxes, that Trump won the election by a landslide, and that the attempted overthrow of democracy is to be rewarded. Most reasonable and thoughtful Americans must understand that the Republican Party has devolved into an extremist faction that does not have our country's viability and sustainability at heart. These conspiracy theorists, and those in Congress who support them, are anti-democratic in their basic belief system. They are unhinged from reality, and their unimaginable conspiracy theories are now at the core of Trumpism.

Donald Trump was never a healthy and effective national leader — and most certainly will never be one in the future — because his mental pathology will not allow it. Because of his disorder, Trump will forever be divisive, hostile, cruel, paranoid and wedded to propaganda. It is impossible for him to be rational, compromising, empathetic or unifying. He is a transactional opportunist who simply does not understand public service, care for others, sacrifice or mutual understanding. He is a destroyer rather than a builder. He is consumed with greed and self-aggrandizement rather than an altruistic desire to help others.

To have any kind of healthy future in American politics, the Republican Party must divorce itself from Trump immediately. It must reinvent itself with renewed democratic principles and ideals. The party must find fresh leaders who are courageous and fearless. Unfortunately, we already know this is unlikely to happen.

Senate Republicans still have a chance, at least hypothetically, to forge their final divorce from Donald Trump during his upcoming impeachment trial. This their chance to make their mark in history. This is their chance to shape the new trajectory of their party, and create the possibility of a healthy political future. Convicting Trump and banning him from future elected office would send a dramatic message to all Americans. Republicans have a chance to be true heroes — rather than spineless cowards. Many of them must understand that their party is dead in the water if they hitch their wagon to Trumpism going forward. It has no chance of success. Americans are not ready to lose their cherished democracy in the name of treasonous Donald Trump. It is not going to happen.

Even beyond Trump, the Republican Party must jettison its extremist and fringe followers. There must be no room for lies, conspiracy theories, white supremacy, radical violence or insurrection against our democracy.

We are at an inflection point in the American experiment. Donald Trump is gone from office at last, but his influence is still metastasizing like a cancer within the Republican party.

Senate Republicans face a historic choice. They can nail Donald Trump's political coffin closed, or send our democracy down a dark and rocky path.

This could have been prevented: How mainstream media silenced mental health experts who sounded the alarm on Trump

There is an unambiguous reason why mental health experts have not been seen or heard or read in the national media during the past four years. The mainstream media has intentionally blocked these experts from speaking out about Donald Trump's mental pathology and its dangerous impact on the public's safety and welfare. The professionals who understand Trump the best have been gagged and muzzled. The media has been a major enabler of Trump — and that continues to this day.

Mental health experts could have helped to prevent Trump's election in 2016, minimized his destructiveness from 2016 to 2020, and/or thwarted his re-election chances in 2020. Their collective voices could have been loud, compelling and impactful. History will show that the mainstream media has been as complicit with Donald Trump as any other group of enablers, including congressional Republicans, cabinet members, close associates and his millions of supporters.

The role of the free press is vital in a representative democracy such as ours. It is protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. The overarching purpose of the press is to be a watchdog of government and of our elected officials. The press is our indispensable friend. We depend on it to expose, inform, explain, interpret and, yes, warn. The free press is the foundation of our democratic way of life. It is what separates us from authoritarian regimes and third world countries.

A duty to warn the public is a central component of the role of the watchdog press. Politicians are under the microscope because they are our elected officials and must be held to account. That is the specific task of the press. When a politician is malicious or engages in nefarious activities, it is the responsibility of the free press to expose and warn — all for the greater good of the people.

It seems clear that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) informed prominent decision-makers in the mainstream media that its "Goldwater rule" prohibited psychiatrists — and perhaps others in the mental health field — from speaking out publicly about Donald Trump's mental health. The Goldwater rule is an ethical guideline advanced by the APA in 1973 that no one cared about until Trump became president. It asserts that psychiatrists should not comment on political figures because they have not interviewed them personally.

Far too many people in the media bought into the APA's narrative about the Goldwater rule. All mental health professionals were blocked from speaking out because it was deemed unethical. From that point on, any experts who chose to speak out anyway were to be seen as reckless and opportunistic.

The exact motives of the APA will never be known. One working theory is that the APA did not want to anger this president since that might have directly threatened the organization's federal funding and its scope of influence. After all, Trump responds with intense vindictiveness when he detects even slight disloyalty. The APA buckled, deciding that it needed to safeguard its own viability and sustainability. Its leading members did not want to rock the boat, and did not want any other members to do anything that might interfere with their organization's stature.

In fact, mental health experts are compelled to speak out when they see dangerousness or unfitness in a political figure. They have a social and ethical responsibility to voice their opinions and to inform the public. The public's safety and welfare are paramount. Experts who speak out are noble and good citizens and should be applauded, not ridiculed.

Almost immediately after Trump's election in 2016, mental health professionals were faced with an ethical dilemma imposed by the Goldwater rule. How could experts speak out in their duty to warn the public when they were supposedly prohibited from doing so by an ethical restraint?

Their conundrum was compounded by the media's decision to honor the Goldwater rule, and generally not allow mental health experts to voice their opinions.

In 2017, Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a psychiatrist, edited a bestselling book, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump." The chapters were written by mental health professionals who described Trump's mental pathology and dangerous qualities in detail. But that cutting-edge book did not open the floodgates for appearances by mental health experts in the media. In fact, they were blocked at every turn, and the Goldwater rule was often cited.

The Goldwater rule is outdated. Its relevance has passed. Today, mental health professionals have access to thousands of audios, videos, tweets, interviews, speeches, books, collateral interviews and more by politicians. A personal interview would be helpful, but it is not sufficient or comprehensive. Behavioral information over time is much more revealing, instructive and diagnostic.

Beyond that, mental health experts do not need to be shackled. They are highly trained. They have a wealth of knowledge. They are ethical. They do not discuss matters outside their area of expertise. They are fair and balanced. They acknowledge their limitations. Their political leanings are excluded in their well-reasoned opinions.

To add insult to injury, the media has had no qualms in publishing any number of articles by journalists about Trump's apparent pathology, while mental health experts themselves have been silenced. Furthermore, there is ample precedent for reporters, editors or producers to seek out experts in other medical specialties. For example, if Trump had a heart attack, cardiologists — who had not examined him — would be invited to share their expertise. The same should be true for mental health professionals.

As Trump's mental pathology became more malignant, it was hoped that leaders in the media would wake up, accept their vital role as watchdog, and actively encourage mental health experts to express their collective voices. Nothing of the kind happened. Many in the media dug in their heels, allowing Donald Trump to continue his mission of destruction without inviting the input of mental health experts. Their abdication of responsibility to warn the public has been glaring. Their lack of courage has been disappointing.

Trump's mental pathology has been a national emergency of historic proportions. But that stark reality has been largely undermined by the media — and the public is paying a devastating price: lies, gaslighting, pandemic deaths, economic woes, tribalism, racism, xenophobia, terrorism, cruelty, corruption, subversion and so much more.

Trump has been devilishly adept at undermining the media's credibility with the public. He has called the free press "the enemy of the people." When he does not like a story, he calls it "fake news." Millions of Americans now view the mainstream corporate media as hopelessly biased, liberal, and unfair in their coverage of the president. Trump's attacks served the purpose of putting the media on its heels. It became passive and reactive. It cowered, apologized, fired back weakly. Many in the media have treated Trump with kid gloves, hoping that perhaps his barrage of attacks on them would lessen or cease.

By not allowing experts to speak out, the media has contributed to the normalization of Trump's mental pathology — also known as malignant normality. Let us be clear: Donald Trump is a psychopath. He is in a class all to himself. Look at how he has created unprecedented havoc in the country since his election defeat. His desire to subvert our democracy is a reflection of the severity of his psychopathy. He is drunk with power, adulation, greed and corruption. He has utter contempt for the will of the people. His recorded conversation last Saturday with the Georgia secretary of state shows his potentially illegal attempt to overturn the election results in that state. Trump is a menace to the safety and welfare of the public.

Mental health experts should have been front and center in warning about Trump's pathology all along. But their voices have been silenced. And the public has been profoundly ill-informed about this president. Decisive information about his dangerousness, his unfitness, his cruelty and his corruption has been suppressed. His psychopathy has been allowed to flourish.

But here is the ultimate irony. The media and mental health experts have the exact same mission: to serve the public. They are not adversaries. They do not have conflicting goals. Duty to warn the public is the cornerstone for both. They should be working together in lockstep.

Trump could have been stopped years earlier had the media taken their duty seriously and provided the platform for mental health experts to speak out. Instead, they shirked their responsibility. They ran and hid. This silencing of mental health experts is a terrible untold story. This purposeful subversion of the duty to warn the public has had — and is still having — catastrophic consequences in our country.

The darkness and heartache of Donald Trump's last days in office make that only too clear.

Our pathological president is sunk in worsening delusion: With three weeks to go, how bad will Donald Trump get?

We must face the alarming truth. Our irrational and reckless president will spend his last 23 days in office harboring the hope that a military coup in our country will allow him to remain in power. Or that Congress will overthrow the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. Donald Trump is totally preoccupied with his existential survival as the walls of reality are closing in on him. He has been repudiated in the election. His psyche cannot comprehend how he could have lost to such an ordinary, mortal man. He is beside himself with embarrassment and humiliation. He is driven by revenge. He wants to settle scores. His thin veneer of greatness and superiority is crumbling away. He is desperate and flailing.

Trump is a psychopath. He has all the defining characteristics in spades: narcissistic, sadistic, antisocial, paranoid. This is malignant psychopathology in the embodiment of our president. He has the kind of personality pathology that should be unacceptable in our top public servant. Trump should have been rooted out in 2016. A psychopath should never have been elected to the highest office in the land. We have been suffering for it ever since: division, tribalism, hostility, racism, xenophobia, terrorism and more.

Some mental health professionals voiced concern about Trump's mental health after his election in 2016. In late 2017, 37 mental health professionals described Trump's dangerousness and unfitness in a bestselling book, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump." But the publication of that book did not open the floodgates for mental health experts to voice their opinions in the media. In fact, there was considerable pushback from concerned colleagues. Plus, the mainstream media showed a rather strong allegiance to the antiquated "Goldwater rule" advanced by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health experts were largely rebuffed by the media. As a result, the public was ill-informed and Donald Trump was elected.

Four years later, Trump was defeated by Vice President Joe Biden in November 2020, but not with the help of the mainstream media. Once again, the media buckled under the smothering influence of the Goldwater rule. Journalists' descriptions of Trump's pathology were published in the media, but experts themselves were muzzled. The primary exception, in fact, was Salon, which published commentary from a number of mental health professionals leading up to the November election and did not shy away from exposing the disturbing features of Donald Trump.

So here we are. Twenty-three days to go, and we are all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for the next dreadful and unimaginable act from this disordered man. Our Constitution states that we are to have a peaceful and orderly transition of power to the next president. But we should not be surprised by Trump's desperate attempts to save himself by throwing democracy under the bus. Once and for all, we should be convinced that our psychopath in chief does not give a damn about the preciousness of our democratic way of life.

Trump is now totally consumed with his survival, his self-preservation. He cares about nothing else. He has totally abdicated his role as president. He is preoccupied with his anger, his grievances, his conspiracy theories and his conniving plans. He is a man on a mission to save his power and his pride simultaneously. It is a mission borne out of utter contempt for the will of the people.

He is willing to use corruption and seditious behavior to subvert democracy for his personal gain. He is trying to find the right conspiracy theory or voter-fraud narrative that will allow him to hang onto power. He does not understand why the guardrails of democracy are deterring him. He cannot fathom why the U.S. Supreme Court has not come to his rescue, especially after he has appointed three "Trump" associate justices. He does not treasure democracy. If anything, he sees it as an annoying obstacle to his goal of establishing a family dynasty. He wants to be a dictator or, better yet, a king.

He has turned his back on the thousands of Americans who are dying each week from the coronavirus. He has not mentioned the pandemic in weeks. He has not listened to a public health expert in months. He does not pay tribute to our fallen Americans. He has washed his hands of all responsibility for our pathetic response to this once-in-a-century national emergency. He is pretending that the coronavirus is gone, much as he pretends that he is smart and great and strong. He seems to derive a kind of sadistic pleasure from watching Americans die under his direction. He must see himself as the master of misery. Remember it was Trump who shut down a U.S. Postal Service plan to mail masks to all Americans. He also shut down mass testing and trace contacting.

Trump has abandoned the economic mess he caused. He did not lift a finger in the negotiation and passage of the new COVID relief bill, held it hostage for a couple of days for the drama of it all, and finally signed it. His erratic behavior has cost millions of Americans one week of their unemployment benefits. He acts as if the economy is humming along well when, in fact, we have had a net loss of 11 million jobs during the pandemic. More than 100,000 small businesses have closed permanently since March. He has not had a concrete plan for restoring the country's economy. Such a plan is not possible while the coronavirus is still surging in infections and deaths. To this day, he will not acknowledge the interconnectedness of the pandemic with our collapsed economy. And our economy is getting worse, not better.

His paranoia is raging as his desperation mounts. Trump is lashing out against even his most ardent apologists. He is accusing others of disloyalty and abandonment. He asked for Joe Biden to be arrested weeks before the election. He always sees himself as the victim when he is exposed or challenged or cornered. To be sure, his victimhood is both inaccurate and disingenuous. He is never the victim. He is always the one who is aggressive, cruel and reckless. His victimhood is a cynical psychological ploy to garner sympathy from his supporters and to try to wriggle out of a jam. But this jam is too much for him: He has lost the election fair and square, he has been abysmal in his handling of the pandemic and the economy is in dire shape. This trifecta cannot be overcome.

Trump is now issuing a spree of sleazy pardons. He has pardoned two people who lied to the FBI during the Mueller investigation, two corrupt ex-congressmen, and four war criminals who were involved in a 2007 massacre of civilians in Iraq. A few days ago, he pardoned his son-in-law's father and two of his closest associates (Roger Stone and Paul Manafort). Trump has always been aligned with criminal friends and associates. Psychopaths are attracted to other psychopaths. They have a shared lack of conscience and an obvious absence of shame. This is the president who put young children in cages at the border and now has pardoned murderers — a glimpse inside the hollow heart and soul of Donald Trump.

If Trump pardons his children and himself during the next three weeks, it will be a clear confession of wrongdoing by the psychopath in chief. Innocent presidents do not need to pardon themselves or their family members. A pardon is intended to absolve criminal actions. It would prove that Trump's victimhood is pure mythology.

Let us not forget Trump's unrelenting adulation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has recently turned a blind eye to Russia's massive cyberattack on our country. Trump has consistently put Putin's interests above ours. Two psychopaths in collusion will be the confirmed story.

Trump has been grifting nonstop since his election defeat in November. He has received more than $220 million in donations from his supporters, under the guise of fighting election fraud. In truth, the money will be used to pay off his campaign debt and to fund his PAC. It will be his personal piggybank. He is fleecing his supporters, and they do not seem to notice or care. Grifting others is Trump's only natural skill. But it is hardly the makings of a president who deserves to be on Mount Rushmore.

Trump still finds time to play golf on weekends and holidays. Nothing will stop that — not even a car bombing in downtown Nashville on Christmas Day. He would never let responsibility or care for others interfere with his pleasure at taxpayer expense ($151 million and counting). He has no understanding of how pathetic he looks on the golf course while thousands of Americans are struggling to take their last breaths or standing in food bank lines because they have been unemployed since March. A chance to cheat at golf while the country is not looking is way too much fun for him to pass up.

Trump is on a collision course with self-destruction. He is the Titanic and everyone around him is beginning to jump ship. Former Attorney General Bill Barr has jumped ship. Evangelist Pat Robertson has jumped ship. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has jumped ship. Even Vice President Mike Pence has one foot in the water. It is just a matter of time before Trump wakes up in an empty room of silence and gold toilets.

Republicans must accept their share of blame for their complicity with this destructive president. At any point along the way they could have found their collective voices and stopped him. Their party is teetering on the brink of irrelevance if they do not separate themselves from Trump. They have a chance to begin that separation on Jan. 6 in Congress when they refuse to participate in Trump's demand — fueled by bribes and threats — to reject the Electoral College results.

Because loyalty is a one-way street for Trump, he will end up alone. He will still have his children and his son-in-law, of course — they are stuck with him. But one or all of them may turn on him when criminal charges are finally filed. Before it is over, Trump's closest friend may be his cellmate.

Democracy will prevail. Trump will be gone on Jan. 20. He will not attend Joe Biden's inauguration because he cannot tolerate the embarrassment of his loss. He cannot even fake humility and kindness for an hour or two for the good of the country. He will slither away through the back door of the White House, all the while proclaiming victory and affirming his exalted status as the best president ever. After all, he has to maintain his "idealized self" of indispensable greatness.

Historians will be extremely unkind to Trump. He will be seared by presidential scholars. He will deserve all their harshness and condemnation. He will likely be remembered as the worst president in U.S. history. His legacy will be one of incompetence, cruelty and corruption. If he thinks he is humiliated now, wait until his supporters wake up and finally reject him for being such a failed, miserable and treasonous leader.

Hopefully, Donald Trump will be our one and only psychopath as president. We must not put ourselves through this national anguish and darkness again. Above all else, we must make sure the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans teach us an unforgettable lesson.

Lesson learned. Never again.

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