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Daily News — Psychologists have a duty to warn the country about Trump: We can no longer pretend that he is stable

If you knew there was a bomb on an airplane, what ethical principle could compel you to remain silent?

See something. Say something.

What if that bomb was in the White House and its name was Donald Trump? Mental health professionals have the skills, experience and training to evaluate both the sanity and dangerousness of this unprecedented President.

Yet the American Psychiatric Association has forcefully tried to stop us from doing our patriotic duty, by gagging us with an obscure ethical footnote, called the Goldwater Rule, that forbids the diagnosis of public figures.

In most cases, I would agree that psychiatric diagnosis is not a parlor game for celebrity gossip columns. But it is also in the ethical code of every mental health profession, and the law in all but a handful of states, that we must warn a potential victim of violence or harm, even if that requires us to violate the sacred principle of patient confidentiality.

How much greater an ethical burden must we carry if the potential victims are in the millions, and the risk is to both to their lives and our way of life? As we learned in the 1930s, silence is a sin when a dangerously disturbed leader is on the rise.

Defying the APA, and risking the loss of the licenses that allow them to practice their profession, 55,000 people have signed our petition for mental health professionals stating that Donald Trump is mentally ill and must be removed under the 25th Amendment.

Much has been written about Trump having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But as critics have pointed out, merely saying a leader is narcissistic is hardly disqualifying. But Trump, I believe, suffers from a severe version, called malignant narcissism, which, like a malignant tumor, is deadly to the healthy cells around it.

The diagnosis was first introduced by the famous analyst Erich Fromm, a refugee from Nazi Germany, to explain the psychology of Hitler. Malignant narcissism combines narcissism with paranoia, anti-social personality, and sadism.

US President Donald Trump (R) speaks with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, May 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s dozens of bizarre conspiracy theories, his false sense of victimization and his demonization of the press, minorities and anyone who opposes him is textbook paranoia. Trump’s “repeated lying,” “disregard for and violation of the rights of others” (Trump University fraud and multiple sexual assaults) and “lack of remorse” meet diagnostic criteria for Anti-Social Personality.

And, like most sadists, Trump has been a bully since childhood, and his thousands of vicious tweets make him perhaps the most prolific cyberbully in history.

In “The Heart of Man,” Fromm argues that malignant narcissism “lies on the borderline between sanity and insanity.”

Does Trump ever go over the border? If you took his words literally, you would have no choice but to conclude that he is psychotic. A delusion is “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.” Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump asserts that he was tapped by Obama (apparently James Comey concluded Trump was “crazy” when Trump tweeted that) and had the biggest inauguration crowd size in history — classic persecutory and grandiose delusions.

Is it all for effect, to rile up his base, deflect blame and distract from his shortcomings, or does Trump really believe the insane things he says?

It’s often hard to know because as Harvard psychoanalyst Lance Dodes put it, Trump tells two kinds of lies: The ones he tells others and those he tells himself: “He lies because of his sociopathic tendencies ... but there’s the other kind of lying which is more serious that indicates he has a loose grip on reality.”

We, responsible psychologists and psychiatrists, see something and we’re saying something because we are ethical professionals and loyal Americans, and we won’t be silenced.

Gartner, Ph.D. is the founder of Duty to Warn. A psychologist who taught in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School for 28 years.







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