How shall we get rid of President Trump? "Impeachment is a long, messy process, which projects the worst to a world eager for leadership," writes H. Brandt Ayers, a former Alabama newspaper publisher, "A clean, quick, decisive solution is for a majority of the Cabinet to invoke Article Four of the Constitution declaring Trump incapacitated." To be clear, Ayers believes that the President is incapacitated right now. Numerous experts cited by Ayers claim that Trump suffers from "narcissistic personality disorder." That's the finding of Dr. John Gartner, who "was willing to break an American Psychiatric Association rule against diagnosing without personal evaluation" in order to declare Trump a sufferer from this dread disease. Seconding opinions apparently were found by Ayers in a blogger's interviews with psychiatrists and psychologists who diagnose the President as dangerously ill.
Ayers defines narcissistic personality disorder as "a personality disorder that compels him to fabricate, exaggerate and lie." The Mayo Clinic describes sufferers as "conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations.
You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You
may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don't receive special
treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having
'the best' of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or
medical care. At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be
perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity,
shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with
rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself
It should be easy, regardless of political affiliations, to dismiss this sort of speculation, first because these snap diagnoses appear to violate a professional code of practice, and second because the extent of President Trump's fabrications and exaggerations seems to depend on the eye of the beholder. That is, I don't doubt that Trump exaggerates and knowingly lies about things, but diagnosing the lying or other habits of a politician as pathological could well depend on a perception of truth, political etiquette or interpersonal conduct that is itself political rather than objective. So it should be easy to dismiss this speculation about narcissistic disorders, except that the Mayo Clinic definition, presumably crafted without Trump in mind, rings true for me in many ways. The problem for Trump's critics, and especially those who want to believe that a narcissist disorder incapacitates him, is that the diagnosis rings true not just (or perhaps not even especially) in the President's case but for lots of people in this country. Though a layman myself in this field, based on the minimal information provided in Ayers' op-ed I might diagnose an epidemic of narcissistic personality disorder in the U.S., if not a pandemic. If Trump's condition, if correctly diagnosed, would justify his overthrow, might not the spread of the contagion justify a state of emergency nationwide in order to bring the pandemic under control? Let's see if the experts have such ready answers to that question.