President Trump goes in for his annual physical Friday, and the doctors will only look at things like his blood pressure, listen to his heart, bang on his knees with a little rubber mallet and turn him around for the ever-popular prostate exam.
But it’s what’s inside his head that obsesses the Democrats, certain psychiatrists, assorted sorehead losers and others desperate to relieve their own Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Robert Mueller’s witch hunt has turned up no sorcerer, only an irrelevant apprentice or two, and the great search for a Russian in the White House woodpile is running on fumes. Mr. Mueller could give a Bourbon Street stripper lessons on keeping the tease going. The latest search for Russians is a conclusion that President Trump is, in the scientific diagnosis of psychiatrists, “nuts.”
There’s ample precedent for head-shrinking by remote control. Since the mob brought up the Russians, the old Soviet Union shrank heads every day. Alan Dershowitz, who has taught law and psychiatry at Harvard Law School for 25 years, represented perfectly sane clients who were thrown into mental hospitals in the Soviet Union, China and apartheid South Africa just for their political views. He knows how it works, and recognizes how the mob is trying to give President Trump the works.
“They’re trying to say, ‘Oh, maybe we can’t get him on crime but we’re going to show that he has mental problems, that he’s disturbed.’ A man on CNN today was saying he has Alzheimer’s and he should be subjected to a mental exam. This is so dangerous. This is what they did in the former Soviet Union.”
Last month two psychiatry professors, one from Harvard and one from Yale, met with a dozen members of Congress, 11 Democrats and a Republican ringer, to plot how to use the 25th Amendment to get rid of Mr. Trump. The two psychiatrists, Dr. Bandy X. Lee of Yale and Dr. Leonard L. Glass of Harvard, wrote about it in a long essay for Politico, the political daily.
If only they could throw President Trump into a looney bin instead of just writing op-eds about it. They’re doing their number because it would be selfish to keep their excellence from the rest of us. “Under Nazism,” they wrote in Politico, “not only psychiatrists but most German clergymen, professors, lawyers, doctors and other leading thinkers became passive enablers of some of the worst atrocities under a dangerous political leader who led their country into the worst disaster in its history … Seventy years later, we must not forget the commitment to the common good, and cannot stay silent.”
Prof. Lee, “a leading thinker,” is flogging a book about how 27 psychiatrists and mental-health “professionals” assess the president, and she can dream of her book becoming a major motion picture starring Boris Karloff as the wicked president and Meryl Streep as the brave and selfless lady shrink. But not all their psychiatric colleagues share her dedication to the arts of remote-control psychiatry.
The American Psychiatric Association urged its members this week to forswear “arm-chair psychiatry” in the wake of Democratic allegations that Mr. Trump is unfit to serve as president.
Public speculation by psychiatrists “undermines the credibility and integrity of the profession and the physician-patient relationship,” the psychiatric association says. “A proper psychiatric examination evaluation requires more than a review of television appearances, tweets and public comments. Psychiatrists are medical doctors. Evaluating mental illness is no less thorough than diagnosing diabetes or heart disease … using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively impacts our profession.”
Psychiatrists tried this on Barry Goldwater 45 years ago, and got painfully burned. Dr. Lee and Dr. Glass defend “arm-chair psychiatry” because, they insist, a person’s “dangerousness” can be reliably assessed by “interviewing co-workers and intimates, reviewing the individual’s past statements and behavior, reviewing police reports and, crucially, assessing context. While an in-person interview can be quite useful, it is not strictly required to assess danger.”
Since the good doctors brought up the Nazis, which you knew they would, it’s also “useful” to remember that many innocent Germans were shipped off to death camps on the “testimony” of their neighbors eager to settle domestic disputes and trivial quarrels.
The shifting strategies and hunches of the sore losers of 2016 become ever more transparent. Unable to criminalize political differences, they’re trying, in the words of Alan Dershowitz, “to ‘pathologize,’ to ‘psychiatrize’ political differences.” There’s no debate, just an angry assertion that the president is crazy.
“It’s so dangerous,” says the man who edited the textbook on law and psychiatry. “If you don’t like somebody, vote against them. I voted against Donald Trump. I voted for Hillary Clinton.”
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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