The “Goldwater Rule” forbids physicians from diagnosing individuals they have not personally evaluated. In case you are unaware of how I earned my keep in a former life, scraping by before I made my fortune as a wildly popular author and musician, I was a psychiatrist. As medical specialists go, shrinks’ relatively low incomes along with the disdain with which we are looked upon by many physicians as “not real doctors,” puts us into the category of the janitors of the medical profession.
Quite apt. I spent part of my career cleaning up after the mess other doctors, not frequently, but too often, made of my patients’ care. I often became the de-facto coordinator of the treatment “team” made up of multiple specialists who didn’t know about each others’ roles in the case. Many times I diagnosed medical illnesses that had flummoxed those great scientists with their sophisticated ( and expensive) diagnostic tools. How? The old fashioned way. By listening, observing and pondering as doctors always did before modern diagnostic tests and computer algorithms made paying attention to the patient obsolete. (And not particularly profitable.) Many people don’t know that shrinks are fully trained physicians licensed to practice medicine and surgery. But badmouthing other doctors isn’t my point. Most of them are competent and caring. I’m explaining why I can easily and accurately diagnose Trump without having to experience the misery of actually interacting with him.
One of the skills I mastered in my decades as a psycho-therapist (though my wife may beg to differ) was the ability to listen. Really listen. And to observe. It got to the point that I could usually make an accurate psychiatric diagnosis within the first fifteen minutes of the initial session. Actually, sometimes over the phone when I was booking a new patient. This is not due to some kind of gift, but rather the practiced application of the tools of my trade.
This ability to size people up quickly works in real life as well. I’ve learned never to voluntarily reveal my previous profession to new acquaintances. When they learn I’m a shrink, they often freak out. They assume I’m gazing into the darkest recesses of their souls. In fact I am, but not because I’m interested in their faults. My purpose is to size them up and adjust my behavior toward them to make our interaction as mutually pleasant as possible.
I apply the same method to figuring out politicians. Their body language, tone, choice of words all create, sometimes in a flash, a vivid snapshot of who they really are. Having known nothing of George W. Bush, I encountered him for the first time while watching the first debate of the 2000 elections. Bush got up to speak, opened his mouth, and after about 30 seconds I had him pegged as a puffed up popinjay, an empty shell of a man. He didn’t fail to live up to that, becoming the pawn of the malignant Dick Cheney and the author of the biggest military blunder in American history.
A senior resident I trained with once said, “Not everything has to have a diagnosis. There’s such a thing as just plain Evil.” You can assign a “diagnosis” to any behavior, but that doesn’t mean it’s an illness. Many diagnoses are bandied about regarding Trump. “Malignant narcissism” “Narcissistic personality disorder,” blah, blah, blah. Well there is a “diagnosis” that covers all his “symptoms.” But it exists to medicalize something that needs not be medicalized. No professional training is required to “diagnose” Trump. In fact to regard his behavior as an “illness,” is to risk mitigating his responsibility for it.
If you must have a medical term, Trump has so-called “Sociopathic personality disorder.” Back in the old, old days it was called “constitutional sociopathic idiocy.” (Which I think applies well to Trump. He’s a sociopath who is an idiot, especially when it comes to the Constitution.) These are fancy terms for the type of people who fill our prisons. Trump fits the diagnosis perfectly, but the diagnosis is irrelevant. I need not violate the Goldwater rule to describe Trump, because I, and you, don’t have to be a shrink armed with a Diagnostic manual to see what he is.
Trump is simply a criminal con artist. In short, evil. Why is this important? Because when he, God willing, leaves or is dragged out of the White House, there’s a small possibility he may be tried and convicted for his many crimes. If that time comes, we have to treat him like any other criminal, not someone who is mentally ill. My personal fantasy is that he gets convicted for something very serious by New York State and gets sent “up the river” to a real prison, not some white collar country club, where he will have a very big, very mean, very horny cellmate.