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Trump should be hospitalized to prevent his mental pathology from inciting another episode of group violence

Even before the nation could recover from Donald Trump's violent insurrection at the Capitol, a QAnon propaganda video calling for a "great reawakening" in the U.S. ahead of the coming Jan. 20 inauguration was posted—seemingly inciting more violence before it was taken down. A string of social media platforms have banned Donald Trump and his hateful followers.

But will this be sufficient to stop him from being a danger?

No. The assault on an entire branch of government, both physically and metaphorically, now no longer allows us to dismiss Trump's pathology as mere idiosyncrasies, just "Trump being Trump," or his being little more than a "jerk". He is exhibiting serious symptoms that pose a profound danger to society. Seeing him as "merely" a brutish and bad politician may seem to work for a while, but does not explain the intense emotional responses Donald Trump arouses from his followers.

The assault on an entire branch of government now no longer allows us to dismiss Trump's pathology as mere idiosyncrasies.

By what mechanism do they abandon all reason in such strong attachment to him, that they would unquestioningly adopt his false beliefs, commit crimes, physically attack police officers, threaten the lives of members of Congress, and ransack the People's House in response to him? That for a man who, after telling his followers, "I'll be there with you," got into a bullet-proof limousine and returned to the White House, where he held a watch party of the violent insurrection on television.

Mental pathology defies the imagination and does not make rational sense to most persons who are untrained in it and do not deal with it on a daily basis. When people wonder how Donald Trump controls the emotions of his followers, "unconscious" mechanisms are dominant. What is not commonly known is that, according to brain scientists, over 95% of mental activity is unconscious. When the conscious, highest-functioning part of the mind is impaired, "the primitive brain" takes over greater control, operating on a relentless, often violent, survival mode.

Regressed Children

The regressed, injured child in Donald Trump speaks unconsciously to the regressed, injured children in his followers. They likely have legitimate, "archaic" grievances, which are grievances going back to the earliest stages of their infancy and early childhood, and now, in the present moment, those grievances are symbolized in the political situation. They feel wronged, as if something had been "stolen" from them, and their voice, their honor, and the respect they deserve are at stake.

Donald Trump frequently speaks in generalities, and his listeners fill in the blanks about what he means, how he feels, and what they are supposed to do for him. As president, he does not have to give direct orders for his followers to understand what they are supposed to do, including attack, kidnap, and possibly even kill. He can be a terrorist by means of proxy through his words. Charging his followers to "liberate" the economy, Trump sent them to exhort governors in the same manner that Henry II once dispatched a group of knights after his target by merely suggesting: "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

When Donald Trump strengthens his position of parental omnipotence, which he does when he suggests: "we've taken care of things. We've done things like nobody's ever thought possible." Anyone else "should not be in there, and our country will be destroyed." In an infantile attachment for their own security, their sense of self is a mirror reflection of his. His needs are their needs, and his perspective theirs; and they live to please him, which is why they would also give their lives for him.

Pelosi as Mother Figure

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the other hand, could be experienced as the "bad mother," the disinterested, unempathic mother who does not respond to their emotional needs and does not care about them, no matter her actual policies or sentiments. Vice President Mike Pence could symbolize the preoccupied, villainous figure who has failed to support the legitimacy of their surrogate self, which is Donald Trump and is now the target of their retribution.

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler did the same thing, according to Polish-Swiss psychologist Alice Miller. He was horribly abused as a child, beaten daily by his father and unprotected by his mother. The German people were largely raised the same way, which gave him a ready audience that grabbed onto his permission for their rage and pain, as well as a self-righteous attitude.

Seeking Daddy Approval

Donald Trump's insurrectionists similarly seek daddy's approval and protection. The out-and-out fascist symbolism, physical brutality, and Nazi-type T-shirts saying, "Camp Auschwitz" and "6MWE" (which stands for "six million weren't enough")—as well as a gallows and other hangman's ropes—show that they resonate with this type of psychological "activation".

We are not used to talking about unconscious processes in everyday life, but to analysts of the mind, they are a highly useful concept. They help explain disorders of arrested development, as well as the collective "regression" that arise in times of socio-economic and political distress, when these characteristics may temporarily become very prominent in a population.

How will Donald Trump's followers respond in his absence from social media? As the separation brings them closer to the reality of his imperfections, and the deprivation causes them stress, there will likely respond angrily and defensively. He, too, will be fighting for his lifeline and, without proper containment, may find a way to reach his followers and to give them another message for violent upheaval. Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, could become another day of great danger.

Our recommendation is now that demands for resignation, impeachment, and 25th Amendment hearings all happen simultaneously and forcefully while ensuring guardrails. If proper guardrails cannot be arranged, an involuntary psychiatric hold for immediate evaluation is recommended. He is likely to suffer progressive deterioration of his mental state and impulse control over the next hours and days, and hospitalization will prevent him from directing another episode of group violence. The safety of our nation and the world may be at stake.

'Unstable and dangerous': Trump's unhinged call provides more evidence of his mental deterioration

Donald Trump's behavior is imminently dangerous to the health and safety of all Americans and to democracy. Despite losing the 2020 election, he has been fighting relentlessly to stay in power.

He has called for a protest in DC on Wednesday (Jan. 6), promising it will be "wild", to which the misogynist and violent "Proud Boys" responded. His conspiracy-mongering has enlisted 140 Republican representatives to plot to overturn the election by getting Congress to contest the validity of votes that are unfavorable to him, while Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has recruited at least 11 other senators to delay election ratification by 10 days, opening room for further disruption and upheaval.

Meanwhile, there have been warnings that Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act at any sign of discord in the streets, or begin a war with Iran to interrupt the inauguration.

How long do we look away from a person who, in every other situation, would be deemed a danger to himself, others, and the public and be evaluated under an involuntary mental health hold—just because he is president?

On Sunday, the Washington Post released a recording of Trump's hour-long call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's secretary of state overseeing elections, first to berate, bully, and beg him into changing the vote totals, and then to threaten him when he refused. The full recording reveals the president to be highly irrational and unstable, confirming better than any interview our previous assessment of lack of capacity for rational decision-making, but above all showing the president to be highly symptomatic and dangerous. Here are some of our alarming findings.

A person who cannot tolerate certain realities may use various conscious and unconscious methods of minimizing those disturbing feelings by trying to change reality in their minds. At the extreme end of this continuum, emotionally fragile persons can rely on delusions, or false beliefs that are rigidly fixed in order to support a vitally-needed belief, such as in their superior value. Not only are these beliefs unamenable to facts and evidence, but they may bring a need to control what other people believe and say in order to ensure that the unbearable reality does not upset them. Here are some examples:

    • "I think it's pretty clear that we won. We won very substantially in Georgia."
    • "We have many, many times the number of votes necessary to win the state. And we won the state, and we won it very substantially and easily."
    • "They say it's not possible to have lost Georgia. It's just not possible to have lost Georgia, It's not possible. When I heard it was close, I said there's no way."
    • "We won this election by hundreds of thousands of votes. There's no way I lost Georgia. There's no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes…. I won the state by hundreds of thousands of votes."
    • "Your numbers aren't right. They're really wrong, and they're really wrong, Brad…. Look, ultimately, I win, okay? Because you guys are so wrong."

The presence of delusions does not negate criminal intent. Donald Trump appears rather to rely on and maintain them interpersonally, by using denial, dismissal, contempt, ridicule, domination, invalidation, belittling, ignoring, and psychological annihilation to advance his agendas and to control others. His inability to hear anything that threatens his ability to feel good about himself pressures others to comply, and his actual conviction makes his false beliefs more persuasive. Psychic annihilation of others implies that others believe what he believes, and may: tell others what they know or do not know; or entirely discredit and bulldoze over the perceptions of other people as if to implant his reality inside their minds.

    • "They dropped a lot of votes in there late at night. You know that, Brad."
    • "But in Fulton, where they dumped ballots, you will find that you have many that aren't even signed, and you have many that are forgeries. Okay, you know that. You know that. You have no doubt about that."

Donald Trump's emotional vulnerability relentlessly drives him to force external reality to conform to his internal reality—in this case, that he won the state of Georgia and also the election. The need to assert this belief is evident in the phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in several ways: Donald Trump dominates the hour-long conversation, repeatedly asserting on Raffensperger his fixed false belief that he won the election. He tries to annihilate the other person's independent perceptions by assuming a kind of ownership over them. He projects his feelings onto him and fails to differentiate between himself and "the state." Failure of differentiation manifests in ascribing to others one's own thoughts, feelings, or motives, failing to recognize the difference between what he feels and what others feel, conflating his feelings and the needs of "the state," or "the people." This facilitates narcissistic entitlement, which Donald Trump also displays, assuming that he should be able to get whatever he wants if he simply lets it be known and applies the right kind of pressure.

    • "So there were many infractions, and the bottom line is, many, many times the 11,779 margin that they said we lost by—we had vast, I mean the state is in turmoil over this."
    • "We have won this election in Georgia based on all of this. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, Brad. You know, I mean, having the correct—the people of Georgia are angry."
    • "And I hate to imagine what's going to happen on Monday or Tuesday, but it's very scary to people. You know, when the ballots flow in and out of nowhere. It's very scary to people."
    • "I think we should come to a resolution of this before the election. Otherwise, you're going to have people just not voting. They don't want to vote. They hate the state, they hate the governor, and they hate the secretary of state."

Donald Trump also refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of any statement of fact that threatens his false beliefs. On the one hand, he must dominate in order not to have to hear information that in any way disconfirms the reality he needs to believe. On the other hand, any spreading of hearsay, childlike conclusions, fantasies, cajoling, or attempts to humiliate, intimidate, and threaten are acceptable.

Trump: … why did they put the votes in three times? You know, they put 'em in three times.

Raffensperger: Mr. President, they did not put that. We did an audit of that, we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times.

Trump: (Changing the subject) Where was everybody else at that late time in the morning?

#

Raffensperger: Mr. President, we'll send you the link from WSB.

Trump: I don't care about the link. I don't need it.

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Trump: Dominion [Voting Systems] is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that's illegal, right?

Ryan Germany (lawyer for Raffensperger, on the phone call): No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County.

Trump: But have they moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts?

Ryan Germany: No.

Trump: Are you sure, Ryan?

Ryan Germany: I'm sure. I'm sure, Mr. President.

Trump: Have they been shredding ballots?

Ryan Germany: They have not been shredding any ballots.

Trump: It doesn't pass the smell test because we hear they're shredding thousands and thousands of ballots…. I'm just telling you, Ryan. They're shredding ballots.

#

Raffensperger: Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, they—people can say anything.

Trump: Oh, this isn't social media. This is Trump media…. Social media is Big Tech. Big Tech is on your side, you know. I don't even know why you have a side because you should want to have an accurate election.

Raffensperger: We believe that we do have an accurate election.

Trump: No, no, you don't. No, no, you don't. You don't have. Not even close.

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Trump: We won Georgia easily. We won it by hundreds of thousands of votes.

Ryan Germany: Well, that's not the case, sir. There are things that under law we are not allowed to give out.

Trump: Well, you have to. Well, under law, you're not allowed to give faulty election results, okay? And that's what you've done. This is a faulty election result…. The real truth is, I won by 400,000 votes. At least. That's the real truth.

Incapacity to discharge the duties of office does not equal incapacity to stand trial or exemption from criminal responsibility. Rather, the presence of mental impairment may contribute to how dangerous a person is, and in the context of unfettered authority to launch nuclear weapons at any time for any reason, this is a serious issue.

We as a nation need to ask ourselves: Does it matter if the President of the United States is delusional? Do we care if the poor functioning of a president's mind adversely affects the ability of the people who keep our democratic institutions to function ethically, morally, and in keeping with the Constitution? Should we be concerned about the influence the mental condition of those in power has on the population, and how their decisions affect us?

And what are our limits? How long do we look away from a person who, in every other situation, would be deemed a danger to himself, others, and the public and be evaluated under an involuntary mental health hold—just because he is president? How far do we subordinate our safety, the nation's survival, and the wellbeing of all society to the privilege of one person?

Madeline Taylor, Ph.D., is a member of the World Mental Health Coalition (worldmhc.org) and a licensed marriage and family therapist residing in Los Angeles. She has a petition for the public, approved by Dr. Lee.

Intervention is needed now more than ever as Trump puts America on the path to bloodshed and catastrophe

What is the role of media when the president of the United States promulgates falsehoods, sows division among the populace, demonizes duly-elected officials who disagree with him, gives a wink and a nod to armed White supremacists by telling them to “stand back and stand by,” but orders heavily-armed police to use tear-gas on non-violent Black Lives Matter demonstrators, marching to put an end to police brutality?  How do media outlets cover a president who denigrates and dehumanizes whole sectors of the American public every time he speaks?  That is, Muslims, Mexicans, women, immigrants, Democrats, “blue” states, Obama, Hillary, Kamala, and Biden….  We must not negate the psychological consequences.

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