Diverging from left-of-center media reports suggesting that President Trump is mentally unfit for office, Politico writes on Friday that "Trump may not be crazy, but the rest of us are getting there fast."
The article begins with a poor Philadelphia couple, whose therapist tells Politico that Donald Trump has single handedly ruined their sex life.
CNN before love-making is not his idea of a turn-on.
But she can hardly turn it off—engrossed as she is in the latest unnerving gyrations of Washington.
Who else to blame but Donald Trump? -Politico
The couple's story is apparently "not as anomalous as one might suppose," adding that "even when symptoms are not sexual in nature, there is abundant evidence that Trump and his daily uproars are galloping into the inner life of millions of Americans."
In other words - there's a mass triggering going on right now thanks to Trump's disruptive impact on politics. The effect on the American psyche, according to "numerous counselors," hasn't been seen since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
During normal times, therapists say, their sessions deal with familiar themes: relationships, self-esteem, everyday coping. Current events don’t usually invade. But numerous counselors said Trump and his convulsive effect on America’s national conversation is giving politics a prominence on the psychologist’s couch not seen since the months after 9/11—another moment in which events were frightening in a way that had widespread emotional consequences.
Empirical data bolsters the anecdotal reports from practitioners. The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year—and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.” -Politico
Apparently the lowest unemployment in roughly 50 years, de-escalation with a nuclear North Korea and a massive tax cut is vastly overshadowed by erratic behavior from a plain spoken President.
For over two years, pundits have been lobbing all sorts of suggestions at Trump amid a general culture of outrage on the left - calling him everything from insane to suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Interviews of Trump from decades ago are being compared to more recent clips in search of evidence that his cognition is in decline.
Or, Trump is simply running circles around the left while operating in his own personal fishbowl...
A more plausible interpretation, in the view of some psychological experts, is that Trump has been cultivating, adapting and prospering from his distinctive brand of provocation, brinkmanship, and self-drama for the past 72 years. What we’re seeing is merely the president’s own definition of normal. It is only the audience who finds the performance disorienting. -Politico
"In other words: He’s not crazy, but the rest of us are getting there fast."
Illinois psychologist Jennifer Panning calls it "Trump Anxiety Disorder, while Conservatives refer to it Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Panning wrote a chapter on it called "The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump," while in an interview she said that the disorder is marked by symptoms such as "increased worry, obsessive thought patterns, muscle tension and obsessive preoccupation with the news."
Meanwhile, 40% of people surveyed say they "can no longer have open and honest conversations with some friends or family members," according to market research firm Galileo, in a report that reads like the author was suffering from a bit of Trump Anxiety Disorder themselves.
This goes beyond office arguments or the Thanksgiving gathering in which some cousin or in-law drinks too much and someone storms out after the diner-table conversation turns to politics. Even the closest daily relationships can suffer.
The Philadelphia couple who found Trump had a detumescent effect on their love life weren’t arguing about the president, said their therapist, Cynthia Baum-Baicker. They were just coping with shared distress in different ways. Information for many people reduces anxiety, and so TV news was a kind of psychic tether for the wife.
“I remember the husband basically said, ‘If you ever want to be intimate again, you’ll turn the TV off in the bedroom. I can’t have that man present and listen to him and feel any sense of arousal,’” said Baum-Baicker. -Politico
Politico then suggests that the Trump-fueled anxiety is due in part to "political theory," positing that America - without a monarchy like the UK, tends to lionize the President as "national consolers," and that people assign "an almost parental role to the presidency."
And daddy is acting strange...
"Authority figures represent the parent, [so] President Trump seats in the seat of parent for all Americans,” said Baum-Baicker. “So now, my ‘father figure’ is a bully, is an authoritarian who doesn’t believe in studying and doing homework. ... [Rather than reassurance] he creates uncertainty."
Trump supporters are apparently suffering too - because their liberal family members have made them feel alienated.
Elisabeth Joy LaMotte, who practices psychotherapy in the nation’s capital, said she “doesn’t view it as a party-specific thing.”
“Conservatives are hurting, too,” she said. “I view this anxiety as collective in a very strong sense. They’re hurting in part because they feel they don’t have permission to share their real views, or they feel conflicted because they agree with things that the president is doing but they’re uncomfortable with his language and tactics.... And they feel alienated and isolated from friends and family who differ from their views, as if there’s not permission to view it in a different way in D.C.”
Nearly every interview with psychologists returned to the theme of “gaslighting”—the ability of manipulative people to make those around them question their mental grip. -Politico
"Human beings hate two things," says New York psychiatrist Michael Dulchin - who has dealt with Trump anxiety in his practice. One is "to look to the future and think you don’t have enough energy to succeed and live up to your expectations. The other is to not be able to predict the environment."
And to think we could be in for six more years of perpetual triggerings.