You might remember that on September 15, columnist Dana Milbank of the Washington Post claimed that Trump is killing him. However, before Milbank has a chance to kick the bucket he will apparently lose his mind. Yes, Milbank is now also claiming in his September 22 column that President Trump actually is making us crazy:
President Trump is making us ill. He’s also driving us crazy.
Since I wrote last week about the possibility that Trump is literally killing me (in the form of high blood pressure), the reaction has been, as the kids say, sick.
From the left came a flood of responses from people experiencing all manner of symptoms, real or imagined, of what I called Trump Hypertensive Unexplained Disorder: Disturbed sleep. Anger. Dread. Weight loss. Overeating. Headaches. Fainting. Irregular heartbeat. Chronic neck pain. Depression. Irritable bowel syndrome. Tightness in the chest. Shortness of breath. Teeth grinding. Stomach ulcer. Indigestion. Shingles. Eye twitching. Nausea. Irritability. High blood sugar. Tinnitus. Reduced immunity. Racing pulse. Shaking limbs. Hair loss. Acid reflux. Deteriorating vision. Stroke. Heart attack.
Hmmm... You left uncontrollable drooling and ingrown toenails off the list of Trump induced ailments.
A timely new paper discusses this phenomenon in the Trump era and the challenge it has caused to the mental-health profession, which is moving toward giving political views a more prominent place in psychotherapy. The paper, by New York analyst Matt Aibel, will be published in January in the journal “Psychoanalytic Perspectives.” Aibel, a college friend of mine, gave me an advance copy.
“Since the start of Trump’s rise to power,” Aibel writes, analysts “have become acutely attuned to traumatic arousals” in patients from the political environment. “Several colleagues have shared that many formerly eating disordered patients were retriggered to bulimic episodes that hadn’t occurred in many years until Trump’s candidacy. . . . In the run-up to the election, mental health providers of all stripes were reporting ‘a striking number of anxious and depressed clients who are fixated on the election, primarily fearful of Trump.’ Since Election Day, such colloquialisms as Trump Slump, Trump Anxiety and Trump Affective Disorder achieved cultural and perhaps even clinical currency (in an informally diagnostic sense, of course) along with increases in reported incidents of bullying” and the like.
Yes, and right after the election we saw the highly entertaining videos of those sanity-challenged Trump haters.
“Freudian psychologists had little interest in the political. But the profession is coming to realize that ‘the personal’ and ‘the political’ are in reality not distinct,” as Aibel puts it. In our current us-vs.-them, zero-sum politics, “dearly held self-representations distort perceptions, alter judgment, resist disconfirming factual evidence and remain impervious to rational argument, a phenomenon well-documented in the political and social science literatures . . . and disconcertingly demonstrated by the Trump faithful’s clinging to their ‘alternative facts.’ ” Aibel acknowledges the unique difficulty in getting people to examine the unconscious parts of political perceptions, because of the “strong pulls of tribalism and moral certitude,” but it must be attempted.
Alternative facts? And no mention of the left clinging to their alternate reality in which Magic Mueller just has to wave his magic wand to make Trump disappear into the mist of impeachment?
As the mental-health professionals sort this out, I’ll be contemplating the many suggestions helpful readers sent in for treating my own Trump-induced illness: acupuncture, Himalayan herbs, vitamin supplements, yoga, flossing, playing with puppies — and the most common suggestion, unplugging from the news. If only I could.