American progressives have been enamored with many Soviet ideas in their time, trying to transplant them to the U.S. -- from government diktat and central planning to academic indoctrination and propaganda through entertainment. And while the Soviet Union has gone the way of the dodo, its glorious socialist legacy is still up for the picking.
One of these unparalleled Soviet achievements is the use of psychiatry to silence dissent and delegitimize political opposition, allowing the KGB to lock up dissidents in mental hospitals nicknamed psikhushkas.
In the United States today hundreds of zealous progressive psychiatrists are similarly diagnosing Donald Trump "in absentia" with a variety of incapacitating diseases, from narcissism to neurosyphilis, demanding that he be deposed (and hopefully locked up in a psikhushka along with his supporters).
First, some history. From the 1950s through the 1980s, thousands of Soviet dissenters were incarcerated in mental hospitals. This helped the Communist government to destroy its critics both physically and mentally without the potentially messy trials, while at the same time discrediting all political dissent as the product of ill minds.
According to the acclaimed Sovietologist Robert van Voren, the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR "originated from the concept that persons who opposed the Soviet regime were mentally ill because there was no other logical explanation why one would oppose the best sociopolitical system in the world."
In theory Soviet psychiatry was guided by Karl Marx's "dialectical materialism" (as such, it rejected psychotherapy as "American pseudo-science" that stood in the way of scientific progress). In practical terms, its first duty was to serve the Party and the government in building the communist society. To that end leading Soviet psychiatrists fabricated a convenient disease called "sluggish schizophrenia." The "sufferers" didn't necessarily need to be psychotic; they could maintain productive careers and have families without anyone noticing their unusual behavior. The symptoms of the disease were pessimism, depression, delusional rejection of progressive ideas, obsessive criticism of the government, and paranoid thoughts about being watched by the KGB.
The government psychiatrists were especially concerned with diagnosing and treating the so-called delusion of "reformism" -- persistent ideas about reforming the Soviet political and economic system.
No doubt, American progressive psychiatrists would be only too happy to diagnose "reformist" delusion in Trump and his supporters, who are known for their persistent calls to "drain the swamp." The rationale behind the "mental disorder" diagnosis seems familiar: no sane person who has attended public schools and watched CNN would oppose Obama's "fundamental transformation of America" or the candidacy of the honest, intelligent, healthy, and mentally stable Hillary Clinton.
Therefore, only the mentally ill would challenge political correctness, the growth of government, redistribution of wealth, socialized healthcare, man-made climate change, multiculturalism, open borders, the media's trustworthiness, and the Democratic Party in general.
American progressive psychiatrists don't necessarily need to copy their Soviet colleagues. Having their minds attuned to the same progressive brainwaves should be enough to produce similar results. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
There is an old Soviet joke about a man who worked at a secret military plant which was disguised as a sewing machine factory. He stole some parts hoping to build his wife a sewing machine at home, but every time he assembled the parts he ended up with a machine gun. Similarly, progressivism disguised as psychiatry (or as any other science for that matter) will only end up with more psikhushkas.
It started with a trickle.
In 2012, a professor of sociology and environmental studies at the University of Oregon addressed a major international science conference in London with a message that any "resistance" to the man-made climate change theory "must be recognized and treated."
In 2014 Psychology Today published an article by a "therapist turned advocate" who listed symptoms of climate-change denial to help identify this "disorder," and thought that her job was to induce climate-change-related terror and anxiety in her patients who didn't already exhibit these conditions, openly bragging about breaking the Hippocratic oath to "do no harm."
In July 2015, Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman already applied the idea of psychiatric treatment of political dissent in the sentencing of the well-known conservative author and filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza.
Enter Donald Trump.
In November 2015, as Trump became a frontrunner in the GOP primaries, Vanity Fair ran with this story: Is Donald Trump Actually A Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In! "As his presidential campaign trundles forward, millions of sane Americans are wondering: What exactly is wrong with this strange individual? Now, we have an answer."
In June 2016, when it became clear that Trump had a clear path to the Republican nomination, the Atlantic published a long "research" piece titled, The Mind Of Donald Trump: "Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity -- a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency."
Almost simultaneously, the Huffington Post weighed in with Too Sick To Lead: The Lethal Personality Disorder Of Donald Trump.
In August 2016, Politico amplified Mika Brzezinski's plea: A psychiatrist needs to examine Trump.
In January this year, the New York Daily News quoted a number of progressive psychiatrists in President Trump exhibits classic signs of mental illness, including 'malignant narcissism,' shrinks say.
The same month, the Independent published 'Malignant narcisissm' [sic]: Donald Trump displays classic traits of mental illness, claim psychologists: "More and more mental health experts are sharing their diagnoses to warn the public."
There have been at least two online petitions regarding Trump's mental health. One such petition bears a title in the unmistakable style of Soviet government psychiatrists: Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill And Must Be Removed. It was posted by John Gartner Ph.D., who claims, without ever meeting the president in person, that "Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States."
Another petition by Dr. Lance M. Dodes, M.D., written in the form of an open letter to the editors of the New York Times, stated that "Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behavior suggest a profound inability to empathize. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them." The letter, as published in the New York Times, concludes that all of the above "makes him incapable of serving safely as president."
The petition was signed by 35 medical professionals, who had never seen Mr. Trump in person. Their diagnosis could only be based on observing their progressive patients who couldn't stop ranting about Trump's derangement and whose maniacal obsession with Trump contributed so much to the therapists' bank accounts that the doctors were compelled to "give back to the community" and signed the anti-Trump petition as a way to relieve their guilt. (We've never met these people, which makes our psychoanalysis of them just as credible as the psychoanalysis of President Trump published in the New York Times.)
With so many psychiatrists suddenly arriving at a "scientific consensus," it seemed that the world was ready for another award-winning Inconvenient Truth movie declaring that "the science is settled" and that "97 percent of psychiatrists believe that Trump's mental illness is real." Their opponents were this close to being labeled as flat-earthers and science-deniers.
Soviet citizens had reached a consensus that they were on a bus heading towards a beautiful communist future (an example of sane behavior).
Just then the eminent psychiatrist Allen Frances, who wrote a book on psychiatric disorders, dumped a bucket of cold water on his colleagues, calling them "amateur diagnosticians" who "disregarded professional ethics."
In a letter to The New York Times, published under the title, An Eminent Psychiatrist Demurs on Trump’s Mental State, the snarky Dr. Frances gave Trump a clean bill of health, saying that "he may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill," and noting that "It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither)." We can only add that in the Soviet book of Political Psychiatry, Dr. Frances would be denounced as a revisionist bootlicker and a pseudo-scientist, and rewarded with an involuntary stay in a psikhushka for deviating from the Party doctrine.
The festival of psychiatric progressivism still culminated with the left-wing New Republic's publication of A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior: "Many mental health professionals believe the president is ill. But what if the cause is an untreated STD?" Its author, Dr. Steven Beutler, M.D., an infectious disease specialist who must have missed the memo from Dr. Frances, refers to the above "scientific consensus" and offers a theory that Trump may be suffering from untreated syphilis -- a sexually transmitted disease that can destroy the human mind and personality. The logic is bulletproof: "[Trump] was sexually promiscuous in the 1980s, a period when syphilis cases were rapidly increasing in the U.S."
No word on whether Trump could have contracted syphilis from sexual contacts with Vladimir Putin, but given the number of media headlines exposing the alleged Trump-Putin "bromance," a Pulitzer Prize is in the cards for a journalist-turned-psychiatrist (or vice versa) who can prove that both Trump and Putin exhibit the same symptoms of mental derangement stemming from a sexually transmitted disease they gave each other during a past secret "bromance" (dates and locations to be provided by a self-described former British intelligence officer).
Perhaps progressive psychiatrists can also explain the sudden, psychologically improbable switch from admiration of Russia to fear and paranoia of Holy Mother Russia that surpasses the cartoonish Red Scare. Our own diagnosis suggests that what the progressives loved most about Russia was not its people but the socialist system the Russians lived under, experiencing all the sluggish schizophrenia and delusional reformism conjured up by government psychiatrists. On that grandiose scale the people were unimportant; they might as well be monkeys or penguins. Now that the Russians have torn down socialism, their country is suddenly ripe for demonization. Putin's authoritarianism alone can't explain such disgust; the progressives have embraced worse monsters in the past. A more likely explanation is that Putin's regime is much less progressive than the old Soviet one. No socialism, no love. And Putin likes Trump. The horror.
"Trump isn't crazy," argues Dr. Frances on his blog in Psychology Today. "The urge among amateur diagnosticians to mislabel Trump as mentally ill is perfectly understandable," he writes in another blog post. Dr. Frances understands the motives of his progressive colleagues because he resents Trump just as much as they do. The difference is that he has been able to keep his sanity, while his colleagues' obsession with Trump has caused them to lose touch with reality, along with their ability to distinguish between opinions and facts.
It is logical to ask then, why doesn't the good doctor diagnose the obvious insanity of his colleagues, at least in generic terms, as a medical phenomenon? He might even discover a link to the sluggish schizophrenia of the progressive movement.
Such a proposition isn't all that unthinkable. In the Los Angeles Times, of all places, there appeared an op-ed titled, Do you suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome? with helpful descriptions of the symptoms and stages of the disease.
The template for diagnosing TDS is readily available. Take, for example, the petition Dr. Dodes references in the New York Times and replace "Mr. Trump" with "Dr. Dodes":
Dr. Dodes's speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behavior suggest a profound inability to empathize [with fellow Americans]. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them. We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Dr. Dodes's speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as a psychiatrist.
Without a doubt the efforts of the remaining few sane psychiatrists in America would be best spent on trying to find treatment for this debilitating mental disorder.