1. The Psychopathology of
2. Glenn Greenwald: The Media’s Coverage of Donald
Trump Is ‘Kind of Hysterical’
3. Noam Chomsky Is Sick of Hearing About the Robot
This is a Nederlog of Monday, August 1, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 3 items with 3 dotted links, and they differ
a bit (especially the first and the third item) from ordinary
crisis items: Item 1 is a long
review of Trump's psychopathology, simply because I agree he is not
sane while I am a psychologist who knows that such judgements are quite
difficult: This time I have written out most of my arguments (in a
brief form); item 2 is about Glenn Greenwald on the
reporting in the mass media about Trump; and item 3
is not a crisis item, but I have thought a fair amount about
what computers are capable of, and so did Noam Chomsky (and I
may be even more skeptical than Chomsky is).
Psychopathology of Donald Trump
first item today is by Bill Blum on Truthdig:
First this: since I am a
psychologist who has been saying that Donald Trump is mad, I welcome
this kind of article and will pay some more attention to it
than I do normally to articles. The reasons are that this belongs to my
own academic specialism and that I have been saying
for quite a while now that yes, I think Donald Trump is
This starts as follows:
Does Donald Trump only say crazy
things, or does he say crazy things because he actually is
crazy? In a speech delivered on the third day of the Democratic
National Convention, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
openly questioned the GOP candidate’s sanity on prime-time television.
More importantly, if less sensationally,
the issue of Trump’s emotional stability has also been raised by a
growing number of influential and highly respected mental-health
practitioners. They have done so out of a sense of urgency, even in the
face of a code of conduct promulgated by the
American Psychiatric Association that cautions psychiatrists against
making public statements about public figures whom they have not
To start with, I agree with Bloomberg: I
think Donald Trump is
mad (insane, crazy, mentally ill) and I also agree with his reasons, in
so far as I know them, which indeed are quite clear to many, but since
I also am a psychologist, I can dive a bit deeper than Bloomberg did,
and indeed than Blum - who is a lawyer - does.
Then again, I also am a total skeptic
about psychiatry and psychiatrists:
I think they are not scientists; I think psychiatry is not
a real science; and I am also quite
firm about this, precisely because I am ill for more than 37 years now,
and cannot get that admitted by the Dutch bureaucracy, that follows psychiatrists
much rather than written statements by real medical doctors,
that say - since 1989 (!) - that I am ill. 
In fact, I think psychiatry always
was a pseudoscience
(<- Wikipedia); psychiatrists always were pseudoscientists,
and the DSMs - from III onwards, now at 5 - are even considerably
than psychiatry was until 1980, simply because they managed to
increase the number of what they call "psychiatric disorders"  from around 50 until 1980 till well
over 400 by 2000, which was all done without any
realistic scientific foundation, but was done to have many more
"reasons" to allow psychiatrists to prescribe expensive patented
Of course, you do not need to believe me
because of what I am saying in this article, but if you want to refute
me you need to know a lot of science, philosophy of science and
psychology, for I have written rather extensively on
psychiatry, and a good essay about it, that I wrote in 2012, is here, and this does explain
why I think psychiatry is a pseudoscience.
And incidentally, while Dutch psychologists as a rule speak very
little about psychiatry and psychiatrists, and while psychiatry was hardly
mentioned in my
study of psychology, the reason is that most psychologists think more
or less like I do: psychiatry is not a real science.
Why they think so is considerably
less worked out than I did (here,
especially) but this does explain why psychiatry was hardly
mentioned in my study of psychology: it isn't taken seriously by most
Dutch psychologists. 
Next, here is Bill Blum's take on Donald
And here’s my take, with no punches
pulled: If Trump is elected our 45th president, he could well be the
most profoundly disturbed occupant of the Oval Office since Richard
Nixon, our 37th, whose extreme paranoia brought us Watergate and
precipitated the most far-reaching constitutional crisis of the late
In fact I think myself (who was in his
early twenties when Nixon was president and who recalls him very well)
that Trump is considerably more mad than Nixon was, at least at
Nixon's start as president. 
And here is Bill Blum's program, so to
As we head for the general election in
November, when it comes to the former reality-TV show host, I’m not
going to be content to focus simply on what the Republican
standard-bearer has to say about Mexican rapists, building a wall, Fox
News’ Megyn Kelly “bleeding from her whatever,” New Jersey Muslims
cheering the fall of the World Trade Towers, being the “only one” who
can save America from chaos, crime and radical Islamic terrorism, or
any of the other abject falsehoods, outbursts and calumnies he’s
uttered or tweeted.
I’ve decided to probe the why
behind such seeming lunacy. To do that, I’ve done something positively
un-Trumpian: I’ve consulted the experts and dug deeply into the public
Of course, Bill Blum simply reacted as a
proper investigative journalist should react. And he is quite
right that quite a few of the "abject
falsehoods, outbursts and calumnies" Trump
uttered or tweeted are "seeming lunacy".
Here is Blum's first conclusion:
A consensus has emerged that Trump
suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Unless you’ve
tuned out of politics completely in this election year, you’ve no doubt
heard the word “narcissist” bandied about in connection with Trump,
along with labels like “bombastic,” “hyperbolic” and “politically
incorrect,” and criticisms that he lacks the temperament and judgment
to be president.
But NPD is more than a label, or a
momentary mood or affect. It’s a sickness.
I quite agree and reached a very
similar conclusion on March 14 of this
And I did not do so earlier, simply because Trump did not
interest me, and because I thought - quite falsely, it turns out - that
he would never become the presidential candidate of the
Republicans: I simply paid little attention to him.
Then again, I don't like most
abbreviations (such as "NPD") and I do insist that
Trump is not just a narcissist but he is a grandiose narcissist
(as also argued on March
14), while I agree that is (in some sense) "a sickness". 
Next, Blum quotes this from the Mayo
While this description is true about
some of the traits narcissists show, it is simply quite false
in saying that a "personality disorder" consists in "traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially
distressing ways" (bolding added).
Narcissistic personality disorder is one
of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are
conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and
behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function
in relationships and other areas of their life, such as work or school.
If you have narcissistic personality
disorder, you may come across 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.
The reason is that what is "socially distressing" is quite different in Hitler's Germany, Stalin's
Soviet Union, Mao's China or today's USA. "Social distress" is
either not a rational criterion at all to attribute mental
problems to a person or else is only a minor criterion, and indeed if
it were true that "social distress" is the main
criterion, then the Soviet psychiatrists were quite right in putting
dissidents (to their dictatorial and totalitarian society) in Soviet
madhouses - which they were not.
For a similar reason, I will not discuss what the DSM 5 had to
say about narcissism, and instead refer you to the Wikipedia's Narcisstic
Personality Disorder (that does contain the criterions of the
DSM-5, but also has rather a lot more).
Then there is this in Blum's article:
In a Vanity Fair article published in November, a group of six mental
health professionals weighed in on the subject of Trump’s narcissism
and gave the diagnosis an unequivocal thumbs-up. One interviewee, a
clinical psychologist who lectures on manipulative behavior, went so
far as to say of Trump: “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips
of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example. …
Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s
like a dream come true.”
The last hyperlink - published - may be well
worth reading (and I did), indeed because I reacted quite
similarly: "He’s so classic that I’m archiving
video clips of him to use
in workshops because there’s no better example."
And here is one of the psychiatrists who did diagnose Trump
(and Nixon and Obama):
Referring to Trump’s loopy boast
that he consults primarily with himself on foreign affairs, Frank remarked, “He’s not
interested in hiring anybody smarter than himself because there isn’t
anybody, and he’s paranoid enough that he wouldn’t want anybody
This is quoted mostly because of the end,
which I guess is correct, and which should upset you a little
in a possible president of the USA: For - at least - almost every
trait one has, whoever one is, there is one who excels
one. (But narcissists disagree, for they "know" they are better than
The same psychiatrist says this:
Frank departs, however, from
other observers on the question of whether Trump is a pathological
liar. Because of his magical, childlike thinking, “Trump actually
believes what he says at the moment,” Frank maintained. “He lives in
digital, not analog time. He doesn’t think about what he said an hour
Frank may well be right that "Trump actually believes what he says at the moment" but there is a better statement by someone else to a
similar effect below.
Here is some more on Trump's "narcissistic disorder" (as the phrase is):
If Trump, who is 70 years old, in fact
has NPD, the malady should have shown up long before his current
From all appearances, it did. Just ask Tony Schwartz, the co-author of
Trump’s signature memoir, “The Art of the Deal,” originally
released by Random House in 1987.
Yes, both are correct, and I dealt with
Schwartz on July 19. Here is part of
what Schwartz says about Trump and truth:
Even worse—and here, there is a
slight variance from Dr. Frank’s analysis—was Trump’s dishonesty.
“Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said to Mayer. “More than
anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself
that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of
true, or ought to be true.” When confronted with contrary
evidence, Schwartz elaborated, Trump would “double-down, repeat
himself, and grow belligerent.”
In fact I think he is more correct
than Frank (quoted above), possibly because Schwartz does know
Trump quite well: I believe it is rather likely that "Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he
is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or ought
to be true" (but indeed this is also limited to that moment, mostly).
The article ends as follows (and I have not dealt with some
bits about fascism):
In Donald Trump, one of our two
major parties has nominated for the highest office in the land a deeply
troubled and volatile man with the potential to attract and unleash the
darkest undercurrents of the nation’s soul. However you decide to vote
come November, you can’t in good conscience help to elect him.
Yes, indeed. And this is a recommended
2. Glenn Greenwald: The Media’s Coverage of Donald Trump Is
‘Kind of Hysterical’
The second item is by Natasha
Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:
This starts as
In a recent conversation with
Slate, The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald agrees that a possible Donald
Trump presidency “poses ... extreme dangers” to the U.S., but the
journalist also argues that the mass media is not only creating a
dangerous, unblinking consensus against Trump but also failing to reach
In fact, this is a bit difficult: While I
agree in principle with Greenwald that
journalists ought to stick to the facts, I know that "the mass media" do not (as a
And this makes it difficult to judge them, and indeed I am considerably
better pleased by an "unblinking consensus
against Trump" than I would be by "unblinking consensus" for
Also, I think the mass media have been far too lenient in
treating Trump so far. Here is some Greenwald
(...) this is the conflict that I
am currently having: The U.S. media is essentially 100 percent united,
vehemently, against Trump, and preventing him from being elected
president. I don’t have an actual problem with that because I share the
premises on which it is based about why he poses such extreme dangers.
But that doesn’t mean that as a journalist, or even just as a citizen,
that I am willing to go along with any claim, no matter how fact-free,
no matter how irrational, no matter how dangerous it could be, in order
to bring Trump down.
I agree with that, although I also think that
the mass media just aren't honest and fair (any more), which means that
I do not
expect them to report in factually correct and objective terms about
most things, and especially not about politically important things.
And there is this, also by Greenwald:
Do you think the people voting
for Donald Trump because they feel their economic future has been
destroyed, or because they are racist, or because they feel fear of
immigrants and hate the U.S. elite structure and want Trump to go and
blow it up, give the slightest shit about Ukraine, that Trump is some
kind of agent of Putin? They don’t! Just like the Brexit supporters.
The U.K. media tried the same thing, telling the Brexit advocates that
they were playing into Putin’s hands, that Putin wanted the U.K. out of
the EU to weaken both. They didn’t care about that. That didn’t drive
them. Nobody who listened to Trump could think that was genuinely a
treasonous request for the Russians to go and cyberattack the U.S.
For me, the underlying point remains
that many of "the people voting for Donald Trump" simply are deceived by the
combination of Trump and their
own lack of
intelligence and ignorance.
3. Noam Chomsky Is Sick of Hearing About the Robot Takeover
The third and last item today is by Alexandra Rosenmann on Truthdig and
originally on AlterNet:
This starts as follows and is here because
I have been thinking this since the 1980ies or indeed long before the
Having spent more than half a century
teaching at MIT, Noam Chomsky is sick of hearing about the robot
takeover. So when asked if singularity tops his list of top threats to
human survival—which includes climate change and nuclear war—Chomsky
“I’ve been listening to this for 60
years. The line has always been, ‘In six months, we will have computers
which will do x, y and z’ ... we [still] don’t have [those].”
Yes, indeed: Quite so. Here is
more of Chomsky:
“It’s kind of sexy to talk about a
machine but in and of itself it’s kind of like a paperweight; doesn’t
do anything. It’s the program that’s doing something, and the program
is just some complicated theory,” Chomsky asserted.
“You can develop theories that will do
specific tasks, like it was obvious in 1950 that if you put enough time
and energy you could develop a program that would win a chess game into
against a grand master,” the retired MIT professor continued. “How? By
getting 100 grand masters to sit around and years and years and
figuring out all sorts of possible circumstances… and it’ll do better
than a grand master who has half an hour to think about their next
“It’s good for IBM, but it has no
intellectual interest,” Chomsky added.
What does, according to Chomsky?
“Getting a machine to do anything that’s
at all like the creative activities that every four-year-old child can
carry out, that’s quite different,” Chomsky offered. “And I don’t think
that we have any grasp even on how to go about to do that.”
Or indeed a computer + program that can do
all that a spider does - and see note 7.
should start by saying that "being mad" is in fact not
well-defined: Neither psychiatry nor psychology have
a sufficient and adequate definition of what it means when they (or
someone else who is rational) says that so-and-so is "mad".
This is quite important to see, indeed in part because most
psychiatrists and most psychologists tend to be remarkably silent about
their lack of real knowledge of precisely what constitutes
Then again, I should stress that "being mad" also is a common
sense term and a legal term,
and while it is quite often not clear precisely how mad someone is, or
what is precisely wrong with him or her, it is also true that both
commonsensically, legally and psychologically speaking there is
consensus on a good percentage of cases, indeed also without their
being a full and complete theory of madness, which in fact there isn't.
But many judgements that so-and-so is schizophrenic (in some sense) or
manic depressive (in some sense) or has phobias (in some sense) are more
or less correct, even if the precise sense may be (and
often is) debatable.
In brief, "being mad" still is a vague term and is so in two
ways (at least):
Firstly, because there is no satisfactory definition that always
allows one to say conclusively that so-and-so is mad,
though it is fairly clear that so-and-so is mad in some
cases; and secondly because there very often is considerable
disagreement (in psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, and
intellectuals) what is precisely
the matter with someone. (In fact, there often simply is not enough
known of - that specific - madness or of the person, to come to a
 This is quite
important for me, but need not concern you much: I am a psychologist
who is ill since he was 28, and who has been diagnosed several
times by reputable medical doctors who knew me quite well, but
who cannot get bureaucrats to agree to that (I suspect in the
end for financial reasons: if I were declared ill, I would cost
the Dutch state more, so therefore etc.)
This was quite serious to me until I became pensioned.
Since I have been pensioned, it is a lot less serious for me,
but it still is quite
serious for everybody who has my illness and is younger than I am (for
people with my illness are automatically denied that they are ill by
nearly all bureaucrats nearly everywhere).
 For me, a
"psychiatric disorder" is plain bullshit.
My reason is not that I believe there are no mad people
(I do believe there are), nor indeed that there is no
satisfactory definition of madness, but has a lot to do with what medicine
is (supposed to be):
In real medicine, the only thing that allows one to say that
one is ill
is real evidence of a real physical pathology. There are many diseases
that do have
a recognized physical pathology.
The problem for psychiatrists (who all have a B.A. in medicine) is that
there is generally no real evidence of any kind for any
physical pathology in people who are judged to be mad (or
And it is this fact - total ignorance about any medical cause for
supposed madness - that disposed psychiatrists to invent "psychiatric
disorders" as a term for what they study.
I reject the whole term and the whole idea, because I do not
think that medical ignorance about real causes may be
exploited in this way.
 This is simply a
fact: Psychiatry was hardly mentioned and almost completely not dealt
with in Dutch psychology from 1965 till 2000, at least,
simply because most Dutch psychologists did not believe it was a real
And here I must make one qualification: One specialism of psychologists
is - what they call - clinical psychology, which is in
fact the psychotherapeutical dimension of psychology. I did never
specialize in that, and it is probably true
that psychiatry is mentioned and - to some extent - dealt with
in that specialism, but I do not know this for certain.
 Note that Nixon
had been vice-president for eight years to president Eisenhower, and
that there were few people who thought he was not sane when he started
his presidency, and indeed I did not much doubt either his sanity or
his badness (from my point of view) when he was elected. Then again, I
he grew (more) mad during his presidency, and I abstain from judging
his sanity at the end of his presidency (which he ended himself because
otherwise he would have been impeached).
 The problem here
is similar to the problem I identified in note 1
and in note 3.
Then again, I also say that Donald Trump definitely is not sane by my
criterions (and the criterions of many psychologists and
psychiatrists), which I do because this is by far the best explanation
for his very many loopy ravings.
 In fact, I can
date my skepticism about computers and programs as adequate models for
human reasoning, human personality, and human creativity back to
November 10, 1972, when I bought the 1968 booklet "Computer Models of
Personality", which I thought completely ridiculous (which is
what it was, also).
Then again, I did not study psychology then, and I could not
program then. I have studied psychology since then, and I can program,
but my position is rather similar (though much bettter
informed) to what it was in the early 1970ies:
Even now, in 2016, I do not know of any computer +
program that is capable of fully mirroring even a spider's many
capacities (which comprise a lot), as indeed I also do not know how
spiders do work their many marvels.
In fact, I tend to believe that human beings (and living
things) are not computers at all and cannot be caught
by the - discrete - mathematics computers are capable of. (But this is my
I have no proof. Then again, neither have those who
believe that human beings are computers or may be represented
adequately by computers.)