This article and interview seems very timely.

The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists

Forensic psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee explains the outgoing president’s pathological appeal and how to wean people from it

By Tanya Lewis

The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building last week, incited by President Donald Trump, serves as the grimmest moment in one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s history. 

Narcissistic symbiosis refers to the developmental wounds that make the leader-follower relationship magnetically attractive. The leader, hungry for adulation to compensate for an inner lack of self-worth, projects grandiose omnipotence—while the followers, rendered needy by societal stress or developmental injury, yearn for a parental figure. When such wounded individuals are given positions of power, they arouse similar pathology in the population that creates a “lock and key” relationship.

Shared psychosis”—which is also called “folie à millions” [“madness for millions”] when occurring at the national level or “induced delusions”—refers to the infectiousness of severe symptoms that goes beyond ordinary group psychology. When a highly symptomatic individual is placed in an influential position, the person’s symptoms can spread through the population through emotional bonds, heightening existing pathologies and inducing delusions, paranoia and propensity for violence—even in previously healthy individuals. The treatment is removal of exposure.

I was always a little amazed at how easily led Trump’s supporters were. This explains a lot.

Briefly, if one cannot have love, one resorts to respect. And when respect is unavailable, one resorts to fear. Trump is now living through an intolerable loss of respect: rejection by a nation in his election defeat. Violence helps compensate for feelings of powerlessness, inadequacy and lack of real productivity.

He is certainly of an autocratic disposition because his extreme narcissism does not allow for equality with other human beings, as democracy requires. Psychiatrists generally assess delusions through personal examination, but there is other evidence of their likelihood. First, delusions are more infectious than strategic lies, and so we see, from their sheer spread, that Trump likely truly believes them. Second, his emotional fragility, manifested in extreme intolerance of realities that do not fit his wishful view of the world, predispose him to psychotic spirals. Third, his public record includes numerous hours of interviews and interactions with other people—such as the hour-long one with the Georgia secretary of state—that very nearly confirm delusion, as my colleague and I discovered in a systematic analysis.

Removing Trump from power and influence will be healing in itself. But, I advise, first, not to confront [his supporters’] beliefs, for it will only rouse resistance. Second, persuasion should not be the goal but change of the circumstance that led to their faulty beliefs.

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  1. Isn’t it amazing that we demand accurate labels of ingredients for our groceries and pharmaceuticals, but not the people who run our government and decide our collective futures.

    There needs to be a nonpartisan tool for vetting political content, candidates, measures, laws, propositions, stripped of political and partisan spin doctoring.

    A clearing house for the truth, managed by people from all political realms, whose only goal is to present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about everything political, and then publish the Readers Digest abridged version for mass consumption.

    It needs to be beyond reproach, transparent, and brutally honest. Then Americans need to understand, the truth is not always fun, easy, or aligned with your politics… its just the truth.

  2. I read Dr Bandy lee’s assessment of trump years ago. She had to defy the ‘Goldwater Rule’ to warn us all way back then.
    In future, all nominees for President should assessed by a bi-partisan team of these eminent psychiatrists to prevent another psychopath again.

    • Sounds good to me, but it won’t happen. I greatly fear election of another mentally ill President WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. Trump has personally destroyed much of our faith in fair elections by his dangerous rhetoric and put an end to the tradition of conceding gracefully to the duly elected winner.

  3. I heartily agree that it is pointless to argue with Trump supporters. It only entrenches them in their belief that he’s some sort of messiah.

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