Monday, October 30, 2017

Crisis: American Psychosis, On Coyote, On Insects, On Chomsky & Pollin, Trump's Mind

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 30, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Monday
, October 30, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from October 30, 2017
1. American Psychosis
2. 4 Prescriptions for an Ailing Body Politic
3. Insect Armageddon
4. Chomsky: Imagine a World Without Neoliberals
     Privatizing Everything in Sight

5. You Don't Need to Be a Shrink To Understand
     Trump's Mind
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. American Psychosis

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig.

It is also said that he "has his day off" and that today instead of a new article by Hedges, we get a reprint of an article he published on January 30, 2017, and that I reviewed on January 31, 2017.

Well.... I republish the review I wrote then:

This starts as follows - and incidentally, there is a quite good and long video interview with Chris Hedges here that I strongly recommend you see:
Reality is under assault. Verbal confusion reigns. Truth and illusion have merged. Mental chaos makes it hard to fathom what is happening. We feel trapped in a hall of mirrors. Exposed lies are answered with other lies. The rational is countered with the irrational. Cognitive dissonance prevails. We endure a disquieting shame and even guilt. Tens of millions of Americans, especially women, undocumented workers, Muslims and African-Americans, suffer the acute anxiety of being pursued by a predator. All this is by design. Demagogues always infect the governed with their own psychosis.
Hm. There are several things here that I like less, but the main one is the - indeed nearly universal - way of speaking about "We", "We", "We". I think that is a grammatical mistake; I think that is a logical mistake; and indeed none of the above applies to me.

And indeed it is quite likely that I differ from most, and the reasons I do are ethical, political, intellectual and radical and go back to long before my birth in 1950: Both of my parents had IQs over 130 and were sincere communists, and remained so for 45 years; both were in the real resistance against the Nazis; both were revolutionaries all their adult lives; their parents, as well, were pretty radical leftists for a very long time, for my mother's parents were anarchists, and my father's father ended up as communist and was murdered in a German concentration camp, of which my father survived over 3 years and 9 months, and got knighted, as a communist [2], namely for designing and partially building - together with other former members of concentration camps - an exhibition about the dangers of fascism, about concencentration camps, and about the resistance, that was very many times shown in Holland in the 1960ies and 1970ies.

I do not know of any family like mine, though there must be some more, though probably not in Holland. [3]

Also, I have been a fairly conscious radical ever since I was 8 - in 1958 [4] - and realized that my parents were real revolutionaries. It is true that I gave up Marxism and communism in 1970, and then also shifted most of my attention and interests to science rather than politics, but it is also true that I remained a radical and have been one always (as I found out in the sick and degenerate University of Amsterdam, and as I found out being forced to live above extremely noisy and quite murderous and quite illegal drugsdealers that were protected by the mayor of Amsterdam, by the aldermen of Amsterdam, by the bureaucrats of Amsterdam, by the district attorneys of Amsterdam, and by the City Police of Amsterdam: It seems I got no help whatsoever for four successive years - from 1988 till the beginning of 1992 - because in fact I protested against the enormous illegal dealings in illegal drugs, that sold for 20 billion euros a year every year since 1988, of which most or all profited enormously. [5]

So no: I do not belong to most "We"s and indeed most "We"s also are proud that a man as obviously immoral and wrong as I must be does not belong to their "We"s.

There is this about Trump and Company's incessant lying:
The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons: Donald Trump’s election victory was a landslide. He had the largest inauguration crowds in American history. Three million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism. Immigrants are carriers of “[t]remendous infectious disease.” The election was rigged—until it wasn’t. We don’t know “who really knocked down” the World Trade Center. Torture works. Mexico will pay for the wall. Conspiracy theories are fact. Scientific facts are conspiracies. America will be great again.
Yes indeed - and this will lead to great problems, that also may cause a nuclear war.

There is this about the current president of the USA:

Our new president, a 70-year-old with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss,” is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good looking.” He has almost no intellectual accomplishments—he knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, art or governance—but insists “[m]y IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” And the mediocrities and half-wits he has installed in his Cabinet have “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled.” 

It is an avalanche of absurdities.
Precisely. Then there is this, with which I tend to agree, indeed because I do not personally know of any family like mine, of which I know there are more, but only in very small minorities (and the main differences are ethical and intellectual [6]):
This mendacity would be easier to repulse if the problem was solely embodied in Trump. But even in the face of a rising despotism, the Democratic Party refuses to denounce the corporate forces that eviscerated our democracy and impoverished the country. The neoliberal Trump demonizes Muslims, undocumented workers and the media. The neoliberal Democratic Party demonizes Vladimir Putin and FBI Director James Comey. No one speaks about the destructive force of corporate power. The warring elites pit alternative facts against alternative facts. All engage in demagoguery. We will, I expect, be condemned to despotism by the venality of Trump and the cowardice and dishonesty of the liberal class.
Yes, I agree that "despotism" is a likely consequence of (bolding added) "the cowardice and dishonesty of the liberal class", for I have been running into this cowardice and dishonesty in truly massive forms in both Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam, where quasi- communists ruled with quasi social democrats, all for their own financial and career interests, and all strong opponents of real science and of real truth, for both real science and real truth were made impossible by political lies, political ideologies - communism, postmodernism and feminism, especially - that ruled the quasi-communists and quasi social democrats who ruled the University of Amsterdam with absolute power from 1971 till 1995: It was totalitarian sickness all these 25 years.

Then there is this on totalitarianism:
“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” “The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda—before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world—lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.”
I have read quite a lot of Hannah Arendt, but I was not much enlightened by it (and indeed bored by most, I admit), though I suppose that the main reasons simply are that my family was really leftist and in the real resistance, whereas Arendt was a Jewish intellectual who managed to escape Germamy before she was arrested and gassed. And while I think she meant well, I also think (and I am sorry, but that is what I think) she was neither radical enough nor intelligent enough.

And indeed, I don't quite agree with the ending of the above quotation of Arendt, indeed simply because the fascists' "ability to shut the masses off from the real world" was not due to the excellency of the fascists' propaganda, but to the average stupidity and ignorance of great parts of the masses: If you can be taken in by fascist propaganda, the least this means is that you are quite stupid and ignorant or else very emotional and fanatic, and for most in the masses it is mostly the first. [7]

Among the consequences are these:
The corporate state, hostile or indifferent to the plight of the citizens, has no emotional pull among the public. It is often hated. Political candidates run not as politicians but as celebrities. Campaigns eschew issues to make people feel good about candidates and themselves. Ideas are irrelevant. Emotional euphoria is paramount. The voter is only a prop in the political theater. Politics is anti-politics. It is reality television. Trump proved better at this game than his opponents. It is a game in which fact and knowledge do not matter. Reality is what you create. We were conditioned for a Trump.
Yes, except that I reject again the "We" and I also reject the systematic non- mentioning of the root cause why Trumpian propaganda works: Because the masses at which it is directed are mostly stupid and ignorant.

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended because it speaks the truth about Trump and his government, but it also seems based on what I regard - after almost 50 years of running into always the same - as a disregard or a denial of the main reason for the success of the stupid and greedy and egoistic rightists: the stupidity and ignorance of many of the leftists.

2. 4 Prescriptions for an Ailing Body Politic

This article is by Peter Coyote on AlterNet. [8] This starts as follows:

In the daily shotgun blasts of talking heads, who frame most issues into win-or-lose dichotomies, it seems clear that as a nation we have failed to publicly analyze some core problems with our version of democracy. The central problem is that less than 50% of our citizens exercise their franchise to vote. This silent protest about the futility of participating in politics as they are currently organized and funded has a poisonous corollary, allowing a dedicated minority to co-opt the political process with slightly over 20% of the total possible vote.

Well... yes and no, and I will only state my criticisms here:

First, the percentages may not be wholly correct (e.g. some 55.5% of the Americans voted in the presidential elections) but overall I agree that far fewer of those entitled to vote do vote.

Second, I disagree that "[t]he central problem is that less than 50% of our citizens exercise their franchise to vote": The central problem - in my view - is that there are - both on the Left and the Right - far too many people who may or may not vote but who are anyway marked by an enormous stupidity and a matching ignorance.

Third, it are the stupidity and the ignorance of at least half of the Americans (namely the half with an IQ that is maximally 100 [9]) that allowed the few rich and their legal and their lying departments (aka as "public relations") to take most of the power in the USA from the hundreds of millions of the public and the voters.

But OK. Here is the first proposal of Coyote:

1. TV news should be non-profit subdivisions of their networks in return for access to public airways.

Readers who did not mature in the era of clear, useful, unadorned news reporting, delivered by composed personalities like Huntley and Brinkley, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite might be surprised to learn that there was once a period in American television when the news hour was nearly universally watched and trusted.
I happen to be Dutch and not American, and I also dislike propaganda, lies and stupidities so much that I do not even have a TV since 1970 (for nearly fifty years now!), which means that I cannot properly judge this bit.

But I do make two points: First, "the news in the USA" was probably a lot better in the 1960ies. But second, this does not mean that it was free from propaganda.

Then again, whatever the real truth, it is also long ago, for since the 1970s the news was replaced mostly by propaganda and lies (that could replace the news again because many Americans were too stupid or too ignorant to see this happening):
In the 1970s and ‘80s those once sacred barriers eroded and collapsed. The unexpected success of “60 Minutes” changed everything, most pertinently the nature of American news broadcasts, which were transformed into entertainment disguised as news. The public’s need to know was no longer relevant to magazine-style reporting on dramatic events, scandals and closed-case murders, that might be years old by broadcast time.
Yes indeed - and besides there were and are the enormous amounts of lies, propaganda, insults, degeneracies etc. that are spewed forth by the billions - mostly anonymous - partakers in the a-social thieving and spying networks that are Facebook, Twitter etc.:
Furthermore, in today’s media landscape the networks are no longer the single source for news. Cable TV, the internet, blogs, and assorted cranks churn out reams of data, assertion and falsehoods to the degree that it is nearly impossible to fight the tide of false information corrupting our public dialogues. The "news" has simply become an issue of personal taste and tribal membership.
Yes, except that I once more insist that people who are neither stupid nor ignorant (which is, alas, a rather small minority) can find most of the news - and this holds for Peter Coyote as well as for me (and for everybody who is really intelligent).

There is also this, which unfortunately seems quite true to me:
One could make the same argument about any number of issues from health care to industrial waste. If we allow our airwaves and computers to be flooded with propaganda and false information, we will be forced into subsidizing the consequences of, say, our current president and the possibility that his intemperate speech and distorted facts could produce a nuclear war.
And there is also this, which is one of the first times I read this by somebody other than myself (!!):
Anonymous internet communications are the death of civility. It is so easy to hide behind a fake name. When one remains unaccountable, and masked by invisibility, civility dies. Why should people be allowed to bully, cite unsourced information and offer opinions without a name?
I completely agree and have a great distaste for anonymous opinions, that I mostly acquired on Phoenix Rising, of which I was a member in the first five months of 2010, and then left in very great distaste of the enormous amounts of lies, postures, and immoralities I had seen from anonymous assholes.

Indeed, if the people writing their lies and degeneracies there, including the hunting away of some 5 quite intelligent persons who tried to write the truth, and not because of the truth, but because the average idiot on Phoenix Rising - with (they claim) headaches, enormous lack of energy, cognitive problems, and an enormous lack of all scientific information - could not follow the arguments of the intelligent few, would have printed their real names, then I could have hung them for shame on my site.

But there is no defense against the stupidities, the ignorance, the lies, and the bullshit that are spread by - it seems - billions of (anonymous) members of Facebook and other thoroughly a-social media.

Then there is this:

2. Public funding of elections.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If objective news reporting contributes to the health and well being of the body politic and should therefore be supported by taxpayers, it follows that political elections ought to be paid for by taxpayers as well. What could be more critical to public policy than weaning candidates from the 1/10th of 1% of the nation’s wealthiest people currently paying for the majority of both Democratic and Republican electoral campaigns?

Actually, the initial argument needs an additional premiss (that I agree with) to be valid, but let that be. Then again, it seems to me that almost every Senator and almost every member of Congress has been bought by the richest (both Republicans and Democrats), indeed since quite a long time, and I think that considerably more is needed - like an economical collapse - to wrest the power from the very rich, who can corrupt almost everbody with their billions.

There is also this:

With public funding, regulation and law should ensure that once in office, senators and members of Congress be prohibited from accepting gifts, tickets to events, extravagant speaking fees, junkets and every other form of scantily clad bribery. Serving the nation is public service, not a headstart for one’s retirement.

I quote this to make the point that it seems to me as if the present situation (for all but a few) is that serving the nation is a service that makes the servants quite rich, and that will remain so as long as the rich have most of the power.

Then there is this:

3. The end of gerrymandering.

Both Democrats and Republicans have colluded to rig election districts to favor their own party members from the same political spectrum. This protects reelection for over 90% of incumbents— a reelection rate rivaled by the Soviet Union and tin-pot African countries.
There is a lot more in the article than I quote (indeed under any of its points), but roughly the same applies to this as to the previous point: As long as most of the members of Congress and most of the Senators are - gladly and proudly - being paid by the few very rich, gerrymandering will continue.

Then there is this:

4. Prohibiting corporations from spending their treasure to influence public policy for the benefit of their shareholders.

Any American employee of a corporation is free to vote and contribute politically as they will. Why, however, do we allow corporations (fictional humans) to dedicate their vast resources to alter public policy to serve their shareholders, often at the expense of sound public policy? It may be consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities, but such policies distort and pose very real dangers to public life.

The basic answer to the question this paragraph poses is the "neoliberal" aka neofascist Milton Friedman's "The only moral responsibility a CEO has is to make a profit", indeed also if the profit requires the destruction of the rights to a basic income, good earnings, job security, payable health insurance etc. etc. for the billions who are not billionaires: If an American CEO - these days, to be sure, and thanks to Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin - can increase the profits of his firm by transporting it to India and making 30% more profit, then he - now - may do so (and should do so, according to Milton Friedman's "moral norms", and fuck you for all moral responsibilities that do not amount to profit).

Then there is this:

These ills have come to pass sheltered beneath the umbrella of privatized elections. It is not an exaggeration to assert that virtually the entire Congress has been conscripted as a concierge to corporate interests. Ending this disenfranchisement of the majority by federal funding of elections should address many such myriad problems.

I quite agree with the statement that "it is not an exaggeration to assert that virtually the entire Congress has been conscripted as a concierge to corporate interests" - but then what is the use of Congress for democratic government?

Well, there is hardly any democratic government left in the USA, and that is your answer, or so it seems to me. (There is some remaining on the state level and in the judiciary, is also true.)

This is the last bit:
Failing core changes like these, I perceive little chance of any consequential change for the better in our public life. Such changes will have to be fueled by public demand, since I cannot imagine a scenario where the political class will voluntarily remove their snouts from the feeding troughs.
I agree and go one step further: Until the next major economic collapse - of the size of the collapse of 1929 - these "core changes" will (very probably) not happen, simply because the rich have had forty years to redesign "American democracy" into the present neofascistic - they say: "neoliberal" - schema.

Incidentally, this article - which I think is quite good - is signed as follows (so to speak):
Peter Coyote is a Zen Buddhist priest, a writer, and an actor.
Did Coyote give up anarchism? I discovered Coyote's existence only in April of 2017, in the context of the San Francisco Diggers, and have since learned that he indeed is a Zen Buddhist priest, and an actor, who also described himself as an anarchist, which I think were three roles that are very difficult to play more or less honestly.

I should add that my interest in the San Francisco Diggers and Coyote diminished rather a lot when I learned that most of the leading Diggers, including Coyote, were hooked on hard drugs, that I myself have always rejected.

But I probably will return at least one more time to the Diggers and to Coyote, although I do not know when this will be.

3. Insect Armageddon

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

There is alarming new evidence that insect populations worldwide are in rapid decline. As Prof. Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, a co-author of a new insect study, put it, we are “on course for ecological Armageddon” because “if we lose the insects, then everything is going to collapse.”

The study, which tracked flying insects collected in nature preserves across Germany, found that in just 25 years, the total biomass of these insects declined by an astonishing 76 percent. The reasons for the decline are not entirely clear — and only flying insects were collected, so the fate of crawling insects, for example, is not known — but the scientists suspect two main culprits: the use of pesticides and a lack of habitat in surrounding farmland.

I say! And I must add that I have been expecting things like this ever since 1972, when I first read "The Limits to Growth" and concluded - in 1972 - that the more species are killed, the more species will be killed, because of the interference in very many feedback chains.

Incidentally, The Limits to Growth and the results of all other environmental actions are well caught in the following statistic, that is one of the most depressing I know:

That is, none of all the actions I have seen nor any of all of the arguments that I have read seems to have made any difference to the tripling of the number of human beings in the 67 years that I have lived.

This is the ending of this article:

But we cannot survive in a world without insects, as they are critical for pollinating our food and are themselves a food source for many fish, birds and reptiles. Insects are also nature’s scavengers and soil aerators.

There are proven steps that could be taken now to help stem this decline. Buffer zones of wildflowers and native plants around single-crop fields can help, as can agricultural practices that respect biodiversity and reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides. Our planet’s rapidly disappearing forests, wetlands and grasslands need to be preserved and restored wherever possible. More research is also needed to better understand why, where and what insects are disappearing and how they can be saved. But one thing is already clear: The fate of the world’s insects is inseparable from our own.

I hold fast to "we cannot survive in a world without insects" - but we have killed 3 out of 4 flying insects. The "proven steps that could be taken now" may help a little bit, but no more than all the environmental actions and arguments I have read the last 50 years.

Humankind is dying, and it made the technologies and the poisons that are killing it (and most other animals) - and it also will continue to use these technologies and poisons as long as these profit the few rich.

4. Chomsky: Imagine a World Without Neoliberals Privatizing Everything in Sight

This article is by C.J. Polychroniou on AlterNet and originally on Truthout.

Noam Chomsky: There is indeed a wave of social resistance, more significant than in the recent past -- though I'd hesitate about calling it "unprecedented." Nevertheless, we cannot overlook the fact that in the domain of policy formation and implementation, the right is ascendant, in fact some of its harshest and most destructive elements [are rising].

Nor should we overlook a crucial fact that has been evident for some time: The figure in charge, though often ridiculed, has succeeded brilliantly in his goal of occupying media and public attention while mobilizing a very loyal popular base -- and one with sinister features, sometimes smacking of totalitarianism, including adoration of The Leader. That goes beyond the core of loyal Trump supporters.... [A majority of Republicans] favor shutting down or at least fining the press if it presents "biased" or "false news" -- terms that mean information rejected by The Leader, so we learn from polls showing that by overwhelming margins, Republicans not only believe Trump far more than the hated mainstream media, but even far more than their own media organ, the extreme right Fox news. And half of Republicans would back postponing the 2020 election if Trump calls for it.

I say, for I did not know all of this, that I abbreviate as saying that the majority of the Republicans now are anti-democratic totalitarians.

Here is some more:

The ultra-right is spearheaded by Steve Bannon, one of the most dangerous figures in the shiver-inducing array that has come to the fore in recent years. It has the huge financial support of the Mercer family, along with ample media outreach through Breitbart news, talk radio and the rest of the toxic bubble in which loyalists trap themselves.

I agree. And there is this on the real policy of the Republicans:

Whether by design, or simply inertia, the Republican wrecking ball has been following a two-level strategy. Trump keeps the spotlight on himself with one act after another, assuming (correctly) that yesterday's antics will be swept aside by today's. And at the same time, often beneath the radar, the "respectable" Republican establishment chips away at government programs that might be of benefit to the general population, but not to their constituency of extreme wealth and corporate power. They are systematically pursuing what Financial Times economic correspondent Martin Wolf calls "pluto-populism," a doctrine that imposes "policies that benefit plutocrats, justified by populist rhetoric."

Yes indeed (although I like to add that this "pluto-populism" works because there are so many stupid and ignorant people in the USA [10]).

And there is this by Robert Pollin:

Pollin: The classic book Manias, Panics, and Crashes by the late MIT economist Charles Kindleberger makes clear that, throughout the history of capitalism, unregulated financial markets have persistently produced instability and crises. The only deviation from this long-term pattern occurred in the first 30 years after World War II, roughly from 1946-1975. The reason US and global financial markets were much more stable over this 30-year period is that the markets were heavily regulated then, through the Glass-Steagall regulatory system in the US, and the Bretton Woods system globally. These regulatory systems were enacted only in response to the disastrous Great Depression of the 1930s, which began with the 1929 Wall Street crash and which then brought global capitalism to its knees.

I agree although I like to add that a considerable part of the Bretton Woods system was due to John Maynard Keynes, who was not at all a socialist.

There is much more in this article, that is recommended.

5. You Don't Need to Be a Shrink To Understand Trump's Mind

This article is by Michael Bader - "a psychologist and psychoanalyst" [11] - and it starts as follows:
Everybody knows that Donald Trump is mentally disturbed. His mental illness is hiding in plain sight. Someone who can never admit a mistake or show remorse or guilt is unbalanced. Someone who frequently brags and demeans others is emotionally insecure and volatile. And someone who appears to lack empathy invariably has something missing inside. No one has to go out on a limb to know that these things are true.
Well... yes and no: I mostly agree with Bader, and this is also a quite good explanation why Trump is insane, but I should add here that (i) it seems to me that not "[e]verybody knows that Donald Trump is mentally disturbed", and also that (ii) the opinions on Trump's madness seem to be - mostly - divided on party lines: For Republicans, Trump is almost ideal; for non-Repblicans, Trump is incoherent, stupid, ignorant and also - quite probably - mad.

Then again, since I am also a psychologist, I did need only one more or less reasonable exposition of the reasons that made many psychologists and psychiatrists decide that Trump is insane, to be convinced that they - very probably - are quite right. (And see March 14, 2016, if you are interested.)

Then there is this:
Instead, when I say that “everybody knows” Trump is disturbed, I’m saying you don’t need to be a trained psychiatrist or psychologist to believe that he is riddled with extreme emotional conflicts that hamper his ability to be a responsible leader. You just need some combination of common sense, intuition and empathy. Most psychotherapists understand their clients with just such tools. In this sense, analyzing Trump’s mind is almost as easy for the lay person as for the so-called expert.
Again yes and no: I did agree with the statement that "you don’t need to be a trained psychiatrist or psychologist to believe that he is riddled with extreme emotional conflicts that hamper his ability to be a responsible leader", but since I became convinced of that more than 1 1/2 years ago, while in those 1 1/2 years I have at most read one or two articles by journalists (of the more than hundred I view every day) who agree with psychologists like myself or Bader, I have become considerably more skeptical.

Either most journalists don't read psychology or they don't understand psychology or indeed they are lying and deceiving - although I also agree with Bader that psychology is not physics or mathematics, and should be mostly understandable, if explained, to most intelligent persons.

Here are some of the reasons that mark Trump as a very odd man:
Given the huge amount of information we have about Trump—his over 30,000 tweets, biographies, long record of public life, frequent leaks about the inner workings of the West Wing, etc.—certain common sense inferences about his mental state are easy to make.  For example, Trump seems unable to tolerate guilt or remorse, refusing to ever admit a mistake or failure. He never said anything sexist, his administration is never chaotic, his response to the devastation in Puerto Rico scores a “10,” and, naturally, he never said anything to insult a Gold Star widow or give license to white supremacist groups after Charlottesville. Nothing is ever his fault—ever.
I agree with that, but not quite with the following:
The resulting picture of Trump’s psychology can be simply and readily drawn by any observer.  This is a man who cannot tolerate feelings of inferiority, helplessness, shame and/or guilt and reflexively and compulsively responds to any inkling of these feelings by exaggerated public displays of their opposite. People don’t need to defer to so-called “experts” to know this.
The reason that I don't quite agree with Bader is not that I disagree with him on Trump's psychology, but that I think that his "any observer" in order to draw the inferences Bader (and I) regard as fairly self-evident should not be just "any observer" (trained in - say - determining butterflies, or doing physics, or doing chemistry) but should be "any psychologically trained observer".

I am sorry this is so, but I have been reading too many journalists who simply fail to see what Bader and I see effortlessly - but indeed we also are both trained psychologists (who both saw quite a few disturbed persons).

Here is the explanation by Bader why he thinks Trump is insane. I agree and indeed made the same judgement back in March of 2016. This is as well the best explanation I have read, although I will have some remarks:

When I argue that Trump’s psychopathology is hiding in plain sight and that it is easily discerned using common sense, I mean to argue that, while having the imprimatur of mental health professionals’ diagnostic skills is useful, it is not necessary for understanding Trump’s emotional life. A professional might use a diagnostic label such as narcissistic personality disorder to describe him, but the label doesn’t add much to the notion, easily seen by lay people, that Trump inflates his power and importance to cover up a deep-seated sense of inferiority and insecurity. In fact, this latter insight tells us more about what makes Trump tick than the label does.

As far as diagnostic labeling of Trump is concerned, the diagnosis most often used to describe him—narcissistic personality disorder—is easy for a lay person to apply. You need only to refer to the bible of psychiatric diagnosis, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, or DSM, and look up the label that most seems to fit—in this case, the narcissistic personality—and read the criteria. The fourth edition of the DSM says that someone has this disorder if he or she meets five of the following seven criteria:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty
  3. Believes that he is “special” and unique and can only be understood by other
    special or high status people
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a sense of entitlement
  6. Is interpersonally exploitive
  7. Lacks empathy.  

Trump obviously qualifies. You just check the boxes and you have yourself a diagnosis. The DSM-IV tells you that Trump suffers from 301.81, narcissistic personality disorder. No inferences or speculations are required.

I totally agree but there also are at least four problems involved in the above procedure:

The first is that the DSMs - all of them, at least since the DSM-III of 1980 - are both quite expensive and difficult to find (unless perhaps you are quite close to a good university library).

Thus I only saw the DSM-III during my study of psychology (that did not comprise clinical psychology, which might have made a difference) when I was shown the privately owned copy that a friend of mine (a professor of psychology) had bought for himself.

The second problem is that a major reason why the DSMs - there have been, since 1980, the DSM-III, the DSM-IV, and the DSM 5 - were unpopular in Dutch psychology is that they simply disagreed about its status: Most psychologists I met simply said that it was unscientific in their view.

I agree, and in fact I think psychiatry (as professed by the DSMs) is not a real science but a pseudoscience. If you want to share my reasons, you have to read (at least) this: DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis". (It is interesting and well-written but not easy.)

The third problem is that while the diagnoses of the DSMs are (since 1980) mostly fairly clear (which is not at all the same as: scientifically warranted, but let that be, here and now) I do think that any confident use of these diagnoses does require some psychologists' education.

And the fourth problem is why I agree with the diagnosis if I disagree with the DSMs. My main reasons for that decision is that I think the diagnosis does apply to Trump, while I do not need any agreement with psychiatry to see and say that it does. Also, it happens to be the case - unfortunately, in my view, but this is an aside - that the DSMs are by far the most widely used diagnostic instrument to decide who is or is not psychologically disturbed.

Then there is this, that I also agree with:
So what’s all the fuss about this thing called the Goldwater Rule, the ethical principle passed in 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association, ratified later by the American Psychological Association, that enjoins mental health professionals from offering a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health in public statements?  A recent book, Duty to Warn, persuasively argues that there is a higher ethical principle that supersedes the Goldwater Rule—namely, therapists’ responsibility to protect potential victims from the harm posed by someone suffering from an obvious mental illness. Twenty six mental health professionals show in detail how Trump’s psychiatric illness poses just such a threat to the public, rendering as morally suspect any refusal to warn people about the danger posed by his disorder.
Yes indeed, and this is again a good summary, but I should add all of this also applied in 1973 and that the reason that this was not seen until now (for the most part) is that the real reasons for the Goldwater Rule were financial: It would cost the psychiatrists nothing to keep their judgements for themselves, and since most are more interested in their own incomes than in the abstract rights of their patients, most agreed to the Goldwater Rule.

This is from the end of the article:

Mental health professionals surely have a duty to warn and have access to an enormous amount of information upon which to diagnose Trump. But the truth of the matter is that lay people—all of us, in fact—do not need specialized experts to tell us what we can plainly see.
Well... I think this is a quite good article, that is strongly recommended, although I also don't quite agree that "we" "do not need specialized experts to tell us what we can plainly see": I think we do, unfortunately indeed.


I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

[2] The "as a communist" is quite meaningful: Communists, although the whole Dutch Communist Party went into the Resistance on May 15, 1940, in which many of its members acted quite heroically, and some 2000 Communists were murdered by the Nazis, did not get any knighthoods since 1945.

Some did after the Dutch Communist Party was extinguished in 1991, but to the best of my knowledge my father was the only one to get one before 1991, indeed in 1980, which is also the year he died.

I do not pretend to understand the reasons for either, though it is possible my father got a knighthood for organizing and designing much of the exhibition (which was quite good) without it being known then he was a communist (although he was one since 1935, and had been briefly in the highest regions of the Dutch CP, around 1950).

[3]And again I am sorry, simply because this is a fact, and what I am sorry for is that I do not know any other family like mine. Then again, I do know of quite a few families, also in Holland, some members of which did behave heroically in WW II. (But not with a father, a mother, and a grandfather in the resistance, with a father and a grandfather in concentration camps for resisting, and with also two anarchist grandparents).

[4]  In fact, I recall both the day and the event, and in fact I was 7 (though nearly 8): It was on May 1, 1958, when my father unrolled the red flag to hang it on the balcony, in order to commemorate the Day of Labor (which fell on May 1). We then talked, also about the fact that very few did this then, and that talk connected quite a few things for me that I had not understood as well before.

[5]  I am stating the facts as I know them, which includes the facts that (i) I do not know that the politicians of the Dutch Labor Party were as corrupt as I say they were, but (ii) this is the only rational explanation for very many refusals I received from the City of Amsterdam to do anything for me, in spite of the fact that I complained about being threatened with murder, being kept for years out of sleep by enormous amounts of noise, about their illegality, about their dealing not only in hashish and marijuana but being arrested with 2 kilos of heroine and 1 kilo of cocaine - absolutely nothing could move absolutely anyone who worked for the City or the law in Amsterdam to do anything whatsoever for me, whatever I said or wrote.

And I do know that the only way to get at the truth about drugscorrupted Holland is to arrest most politicians, and have them tortured. I think this would deliver a lot of information, but I am an opponent of torturing people (also if I detest them as much as I do the politicians of the Dutch Labor Party).

[6]  They are ethical because both of my parents and three out of four of my grandparents were genuine radicals, most for all their lives; they are intellectual because both of my parents and all my grandparents very probably had IQs over 130, as my brother and I do; and these differences count simply because differences in beauty, in athleticism, in sports, and in singing also count, whereas these ethical and intellectual differences are both more important and rarer than being somewhat beatiful or running very fast.

[7]  I am sorry, but I think this is simply true and has been consistently neglected in everything that I have read the last
four years.

[8] There is more on Peter Coyote in Nederlog here and here and here and here.

[9] It is a fact that IQ are designed in such a way that half of humanity has an IQ that is maximally 100, and half of humanity has an IQ over 100. If you believe that the lower half is intelligent or knowledgeable then you must have a considerably lower IQ than I have.

[10] Maybe I should - once again - explain why I am so much occupied with stupidity and ignorance:

I codified my ethical standards in 1984 as follows:
Don't be MAD, don't SIN
by which I meant: Don't be Mean, don't be Angry, don't be Dishonest; don't be Stupid, don't be Ignorant, and don't be Negligent.

[11] This is merely to register that (i) I am a Dutch psychologist but not a psycho-analyst, and that (ii) the combination strikes me as a bit odd, but this may be due to my Dutch education.
      home - index - summaries - mail