A group of more than 350 health professionals—led by three preeminent psychiatrists—delivered a petition to the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday warning that President Donald Trump's allegedly deteriorating mental state could result in "catastrophic outcomes," including nuclear war, as the possibility of impeachment looms.
"We bear in mind that Donald Trump, as president, has the unfettered authority to launch nuclear weapons at any time for any reason," psychiatrists Bandy Lee, John Zinner, and Jerrold Post said in a statement accompanying the petition. "Short of this calamity, there are many other dangers he can pose by the use, fueled by rage, of his assumed absolute executive authority, and by the loyalists who serve him."
"His detachment from reality... his pathology is actually gaining ground more quickly than the ability of rational actors to bring up the facts."
—Bandy Lee, Yale Medical School
The trio of mental health professionals implored the Judiciary Committee to "take these danger signs seriously and to constrain his destructive impulses" as the impeachment inquiry moves forward.
As Common Dreams reported Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she has asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to prepare articles of impeachment against Trump.
"We have come to the conclusion that there is an ethical obligation to warn of the danger that President Trump poses. We believe that there is a possibility of our stumbling into a war," the statement reads. "Impeachment is the ultimate rebuke of a president, which President Trump has intensely feared, at least since the appointment of the special counsel."
"We and many others are available to give important relevant recommendations as well as to educate the public so that we can maximize our collective safety," the statement continues.
To justify their efforts aimed at congressional lawmakers, the group of professionals cite specific portions of the American Psychiatric Association's ethical guidelines, including a portion of Section 7.1 which says one of their duties is "to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government."
In an interview with The Independent on Wednesday, Lee said she feels it is necessary for mental health professionals to speak out about Trump because he is "ramping up his conspiracy theories" and "showing a great deal of cruelty and vindictiveness."
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"His detachment from reality... his pathology is actually gaining ground more quickly than the ability of rational actors to bring up the facts," Lee said. "They are having four constitutional scholars testify, but alongside the legal aspects, we must consider the psychological aspects."
Read the full statement:
We are among several mental health experts making ourselves available for consultation with Congress in accordance with our ethics guideline, which states: "Psychiatrists are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government." We are also in keeping with the Goldwater principle that encourages psychiatrists to educate the public when asked about a public figure, so that we may improve the community and better public health. We appreciate the momentous task Congress has with the impeachment proceedings and present ourselves as recognized experts who can answer critical questions relating to mental health. We are among thousands of mental health professionals who have felt obligated to speak up because of the exceptional psychological dangers of this presidency. In medicine, safety supersedes all other concerns, and we are acting in accordance with our professional responsibility to society and the humanitarian goals of medicine.
We are speaking out at this time because we are convinced that, as the time of possible impeachment approaches, Donald Trump has the real potential to become ever more dangerous, a threat to the safety of our nation. We bear in mind that Donald Trump, as President, has the unfettered authority to launch nuclear weapons at any time for any reason. There is no formalized way of preventing this unless his order is disobeyed by the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, who has been given the order to launch. Short of this calamity, there are many other dangers he can pose by the use, fueled by rage, of his assumed absolute executive authority, and by the loyalists who serve him.
There are many things we can say about the psychology of Donald Trump. He is remarkably transparent through his Twitter stream of comments, real-time video displays and newspaper accounts, past and present, as well as testimonies of persons who know or have known him. He has shown that his sense of worth is entirely dependent on the admiration from others, such as at the rallies of his base. Without this external affirmation, President Trump has revealed that he feels, deep down, like a loser, a failure, weak, dumb, fat, ugly, fake, “crooked”. We know this because these self-denigrating pictures of himself, President Trump projects onto others, whom he transforms into enemies, and compensates consciously by creating a grandiose image of himself as unique, a stable genius, entitled to special treatment, and better at everything than everyone else.
What makes Donald Trump so dangerous is the brittleness of his sense of worth. Any slight or criticism is experienced as a humiliation and degradation. To cope with the resultant hollow and empty feeling, he reacts with what is referred to as narcissistic rage. He is unable to take responsibility for any error, mistake, or failing. His default in that situation is to blame others and to attack the perceived source of his humiliation. These attacks of narcissistic rage can be brutal and destructive. A striking but not unusual example of his lack of caring and empathy is his policy of separating children from their parents at the Southern border. Additionally, he has made the reckless decision to allow an attack of our Kurdish allies, against all advice, shortly after announcement of the impeachment inquiry. These events are closely related and betray his extreme inability to tolerate any challenges against him.
We have come to the conclusion that there is an ethical obligation to warn of the danger that President Trump poses. We believe that there is a possibility of our stumbling into a war, should, for example, the adventurous Kim Jong-un have further flights of missiles over Japan or another nuclear test. President Trump’s need to demonstrate his strength as commander-in-chief and the praise that would come from taking strong actions could lead to a very unfortunate situation.
Impeachment is the ultimate rebuke of a president, which President Trump has intensely feared, at least since the appointment of the special counsel. Failing to monitor or to understand the psychological aspects, or discounting them, could lead to catastrophic outcomes. For these reasons, we implore Congress to take these danger signs seriously and to constrain his destructive impulses. We and many others are available to give important relevant recommendations as well as to educate the public so that we can maximize our collective safety.