Not a day goes by without my considering what effects Trump’s random, impulsive behaviors have on the mental health of our country. I’m not alone. On February 7th, The Boston Globe carried an opinion piece titled Institutional silence on Trump’s mental state in which Doctors Lee and Glass sound the alarm on “malignant normalcy.” They state,
Human beings are very adaptable, and there is almost no degree of pathology we could not grow accustomed to, unless those with clear knowledge of what was happening were to speak out. Based on the experience of physician compliance with Nazism, we now have the Declaration of Geneva, the universal physician’s pledge that recognizes either silence or active cooperation with a destructive regime as running counter to medicine’s humanitarian goals.
The authors take issue with the American Psychiatric Organization’s decision to enact a gag order on any member who speaks out about a public figure. They advocate the present need for public discourse by mental health professionals as a first step to having clarity and empowering the people.
Many of us, with or without mental health credentials, live through each day with the knowledge that our chief executive is a rogue president with a mental attitude that permits him to behave without accountability.
The past month has been bookmarked by two events.
- The government shutdown during which 800,000 or more public service workers were cut off from their pay while expected to perform their jobs.
- At no point in his 80 minute speech did Trump speak of, address, express regret, or hold himself or anyone in his administration accountable for the hardship caused by his decision.
It is telling that nowhere in his State of the Union speech did Trump express concern or reflect on the challenge to prevent a future shutdown as the next budget deadline looms.
For the past two years, we have suffered through Trump’s blasphemous, irrepressible ego trip, placing himself in front of adoring fans, holed up in the residency or at Mar-a-Largo, in commune with Fox news, texting his observations and pronouncements as if they were executive orders.
Is Trump unfit to serve? Do we need a psychiatric evaluation to decide? Until and unless there is adequate data that motivates a Cabinet member on the necessity of an evaluation, how we gain perspective, be it through reading, listening, and absorbing various viewpoints, is up to each individual.
In the meantime, each of us is accountable to ourselves and to the community we share. Our own mental health is dependent on what each of us does each and every day to maintain our own well-being as well as to contribute to the well-being of our social and community networks.
For myself, I intend to address my worry about “malignant normality” by being mindful, calling my representatives, and sharing my opinion. As always, I am grateful to my readers who run alongside as I struggle to make sense out of what, these days, seems surreal.