OscarDecember 12, 2016 Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


The Cult of Trump


Can’t understand why a loved one would vote for Donald Trump? Let the experts who spend their lives studying cults help break it down.
America was watching, the world was watching, and Donald Trump needed everyone to understand just how dire the straits really were.


“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” he proclaimed ominously as he officially accepted the Republican nomination for president at the party’s convention in Cleveland last month. It was a grim portrait of America, a once-great nation ravaged by terrorism, “poverty and violence” at home, “war and destruction” overseas.


The solution? Not God. Or patriotism. Or casting aside party loyalty to come together as a nation. No, politicians had rallied under those virtuous banners before, and where had it gotten us? Instead, the newly crowned nominee offered a more messianic promise: that Trump—and only Trump—can get things back on track.


That’s the moment, says Rick Alan Ross, America’s leading cult expert, when he realized Trumpism had striking similarities to the fanatical groups he studies.


Like many moderates in the party, Ross, the executive director of the Cult Education Institute and a lifelong Republican, had watched Trump’s rise with mounting distaste. But Trump’s rhetoric at the RNC—“I alone can fix it”—clicked the pieces into place. “That kind of pronouncement is typical of many cult leaders, who say that ‘my way is the only way, I am the only one,’” Ross says. “That was a very defining moment.”


When I called Ross, I cut right to the chase, asking, “Is Trump a cult leader?” I didn’t get more than a few words in for the next 20 minutes as he dove into the evidence: the nominee’s deep-rooted narcissism, his lack of transparency, many of his supporters’ blind, full-throttled adoration. A week later, he left me two voicemails outlining the warning signs of narcissistic personality disorder in the candidate, and a week after that, followed up with another batch of e-mails expounding on Trump’s similarities to the cults he studies. There was a lot to dig into.



NEW REPUBLIC – October 15, 2016


Donald Trump’s Campaign Has Become a Cult

By Jared Yates Sexton


Friday’s rally in Charlotte took Trumpism to a frightening new level.


The Trump campaign has turned into something new: a cult.


The fact hit me a few minutes after I entered the Charlotte Convention Center on Friday night and heard supporters openly blaming the women who’ve recently come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexually assaulting them. The Trump faithful were more than ready to cut down anyone standing in their leader’s way.


“They’re gold diggers,” I heard an old woman say.


“Let’s call them what they are,” said a woman in a “Proud Deplorable” shirt. “They’re whores.” 


Throughout the night there were similar strains of the same conversation. Everyone was in agreement that there was no veracity to the women’s claims, that it was just another dirty trick by “Crooked Hillary” to defeat Trump, a man so good, another woman explained, holding out her quaking hand, “It makes me shake to think they’d hurt a man like that.” 


But the questioning of the women’s accounts didn’t stop at skepticism. In a cult, when confronted with conflicting evidence, it’s oftentimes necessary to go to extreme lengths to sustain the shared narrative. Here, in Charlotte, they were more than ready to go to those lengths.


One man noted to his friend that it was suspicious that Trump was accused of sexual improprieties just as former Fox News head Roger Ailes has been. “You reckon Fox is in on it?” he asked aloud.


But the most disgusting suspicion concerned the accusers’ attractiveness.


“Trump dates models,” a woman in a red-white-and-blue blouse said, “Did you see that woman?” she asked, referring to Jessica Leeds, who says Trump groped her on a plane in the 1980s. “You think he was so hard up?”


Trump has continued to feed that same narrative by mentioning how unattractive he finds the women . . .



23 things Donald Trump has actually said about women


By Catriona Harvey-Jenner and Emma Ledger | June 30, 2017



Why “Macho” Leadership Still Thrives
Authoritarian, narcissistic leaders are on the rise.
Posted Apr 4, 2016 by Ray Williams


Global economic uncertainty and the spike in terrorism has created a resurgence of the populist attraction to authoritarianism and male “macho” leaders. This trend is evident both in politics and in business.


Narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy have one thing in common: they are disorders whose primary personality trait is the obsession with control, domination of, and power over others, whether that is people, animals, the environment, systems, or organizations.


Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, argues “Traits that are common among psychopathic serial killers—a grandiose sense of self-worth, persuasiveness, superficial charm, ruthlessness, lack of remorse and the manipulation of others—are also shared by politicians and world leaders. Individuals, in other words, running not from the police, but for office.” Such a profile allows those who have these traits to do what they like when they like, completely unfazed by the social, moral or legal consequences of their actions.


In their book, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, argue while psychopaths may not be ideally suited for traditional work environments by virtue of a lack of desire to develop good interpersonal relationships, they have other abilities such as reading people and masterful influence and persuasion skills that can make them difficult to be seen as the psychopaths they are. According to their and others’ studies somewhere between 3-25% of executives could be assessed as psychopaths, a much higher figure than the general population figure of 1%.


Manifred Kets de Vries, a distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD has completed some research and published a paper on the subject. He calls the corporate psychopath the “SOB—Seductive Operational Bully”—or psychopath “lite.” SOBs don’t usually end up in jail or psychiatric hospital, but they do thrive in an organizational setting. SOBs can be found wherever power, status, or money is at stake, de Vries says: “They talk about themselves endlessly; they like to be in the limelight. In some ways they are like children, believing that they are the center of the universe, unable to recognize the needs and rights of others. They appear to be charming yet can be covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their “victims” merely as targets and opportunities; like master and slave, they try to dominate and humiliate them. For them, the end always justifies the means.”


Populist authoritarianism can best be explained as a cultural backlash in Western societies against long-term, ongoing social change.


Over recent decades, the World Values Survey shows that Western societies have been getting gradually more liberal on many social issues, especially among the younger generation and well-educated middle class. That includes egalitarian attitudes toward sex roles, tolerance of fluid gender identities and LGBT rights, support for same-sex marriage, tolerance of diversity, and more secular values, as well as what political scientists call emancipative values, engagement in directly assertive forms of democratic participation, and cosmopolitan support for agencies of global governance. This long-term generational shift threatens many traditionalists’ cultural values. Less educated and older citizens fear becoming marginalized and left behind within their own countries. This fear spawns a desire for someone to take control.


In the United States, evidence from the World Values Survey perfectly illustrates the education gap in these types of cultural values. Well before Trump, a substantial and striking education gap can be observed in American approval of authoritarian leaders. The WVS asked whether Americans approved of “having a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with congress or elections.” Most remarkably, by the most recent wave in 2011, almost half — 44 percent — of U.S. non-college graduates approved of having a strong leader unchecked by elections and Congress.


Many of today’s challenges are too complex to yield to the exercise of leadership alone. Even so, we are inclined to see the problems of the present in terms of crises and leaders. Our growing addiction to the narrative of crisis has gone hand in hand with an increasing veneration of leadership—a veneration that leaves us vulnerable to the false prophets, the smooth operators, the gangsters, and the demagogues who say they can save us . . .



When Bad Is Good:
Adopting the Psychopathic Lifestyle


    The attitudes and behaviors of individuals with many psychopathic features are systemic, a natural and pervasive part of their general lifestyle. In a sense, they are what they are. However, there are others whose nature is less psychopathic than pragmatic; they adopt some of the trappings of a “psychopathic lifestyle” in order to succeed or excel at their work or profession. They are encouraged in this process by all sorts of pop-psych self-help books that promote a philosophy of aggressive greed, self-entitlement, and “looking out for number one.”
    In his book What Would Machiavelli Do?, Stanley Bing, perhaps tongue in cheek, tells how to get what you want when you want it whether you deserve it or not. Without fear. Without emotion. Without finger-wagging morality. The following are some of his exhortations:


* Be cold-hearted: Replace decency and thoughtfulness with insensitivity and hardheartedness.


* Work hard to become bad: Most people aren’t naturally horrendous . . . but with work we can improve.


* Be narcissistic: View others solely as a function of your needs . . . You have enormous selfishness within you . . . Let it out.


* Be unpredictable: Very nice. Very mean. Big, big swings. Gigantic pleasure. Towering rage.


* Be ruthless: For your competitors and those who would bring you down. “Crush them. Hear their bones break, their windpipes snap.”


    Of course, the more psychopathic one is, the easier it is to follow Bing’s road map to amoral personal and corporate success. For most of us, though, social brutality and predation are somewhat more difficult. Even if Bing’s book is viewed as a satire, it reads like a blueprint for a psychopath.


From Snakes in Suits, Chapter 3: What You See May Not Be What You See (pp. 42-43).



Machiavellian: Conduct or philosophy based on (or one who adopts) the cynical beliefs of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) whose name (in popular perception) is synonymous with deception and duplicity in management and statecraft. Born in Florence (Italy), Machiavelli was its second chancellor and (in 1513) wrote the book The Prince that discusses ways in which the rulers of a nation state can gain and control power. Although The Prince contains some keen and practical insights into human behavior, it also displays a pessimistic view of human nature and condones opportunistic and unethical ways of manipulating people. One of its suggestions reads: “Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature.”



Sex, Power, Money, and All of the Above


Who will win in the search for sex, power, and money?


By Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.
Psychology Today – Sept 21, 2013 (excerpt)


Freud may have believed that all humans are motivated by illicit motives, but research on the “Dark Triad” of personality suggests that some of us have stronger cravings than others. The Dark Triad refers to the set of three personality traits or personal dispositions generally recognized as undesirable – hence the term “dark.”


The first of these Dark Triad traits is “Machiavellianism,” named after the 16th century Italian author whose treatise, “The Prince” advocates the use of power to achieve political ends, even if this means lying and using others to get what you want.  People high in Machiavellianism, then, are calculating as well as deceitful.


The second Dark Triad trait is psychopathy, a term you might be familiar with or if not, with the related concept of “sociopathy.” People high in psychopathy are unable to empathize with others, tend to be shallow and glib, and have a lifestyle characterized by impulsive, possibly criminal, acts. They also are supreme manipulators of others in order to get their own way, and they tend to have a glorified sense of their own abilities.  


Finally, the Dark Triad personality includes the trait of narcissism, named after the Greek youth Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in the water, only to drown as a result. People high in narcissism have an exaggerated sense of their own importance or “grandiosity.” Underneath this grandiose exterior, according to some theories, they feel vulnerable and insecure.


People high on dark triad traits may not think of their personalities as being dark, and they may even like getting turned on by the rewards they seek. However, the people who are the target of their manipulative and exploitative tendencies sooner or later learn to avoid or at least be wary of them. Being high on dark triad traits hardly makes you a great romantic partner. However, you may be very successful in finding others to succumb to your sexual powers. The “sex” in the sex, power, money reward game, then, is the no-commitment or hookup variety, not the truly intimate.


With this background in mind, University of Calgary psychologist Kibeom Lee and colleagues (2013) examined the correlations among the Dark Triad qualities and the “outcomes” (though correlational) in the tendencies toward exploitative sexual liaisons (“Sex”), to dominate and exploit others (“Power”), and to be motivated toward materialistic ends and conspicuous consumption (“Money”). They also looked at the opposite of the Dark Triad qualities in the personality traits of “Humility-Honesty.” As the term implies, people high on humility are modest and demure, and those high on honesty would not lie, cheat, or swindle to get their way.



The ATLANTIC  |  June 2016


By Dan P. McAdams


Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity — a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency: “Imagine Donald Trump in the White House. . .”



The New Yorker

July 25, 2016 Issue


The Politcal Scene


Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All


By Jane Mayer


“The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it.



Tony Schwartz: The Truth About Trump | Oxford Union Q&A 


Nov 4, 2016


“I wasn’t much older than most of you are today when I wrote The Art of the Deal. At the time I told myself that doing it wasn’t that big a deal and wouldn’t have any enduring consequences. Ha.


The truth is, that decision – the book and my association with Trump – has quietly haunted and dogged me for thirty years. . .”



Insane Clown President: Matt Taibbi Chronicles Election of “Billionaire Hedonist” Trump


Democracy Now!
Jan 17, 2017


As a new study by Oxfam finds the world’s eight richest men control as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity, the group says it is concerned that wealth inequality will continue to grow following the election of Donald Trump, whose Cabinet members have a combined wealth of nearly $11 billion. We look at the rise of Trump, and those joining his administration, with award-winning Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi. His new book comes out today, titled Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.








What Mental Health Experts Can Say About The Presidency


By Bandy X. Lee, M.D., Contributor
Aug 23, 2017


Co-authored by Dee Mosbacher, M.D., Ph.D. and Nanette Gartrell, M.D.


“Now that he has won the presidency, why wouldn’t he just ‘pivot’ and become more normal?” Why would he say things in public that are destructive to him and the nation?” Why stir things up unnecessarily?” “The chaos and incoherence are much worse than expected.”


These are some of the questions and concerns that have been raised about President Trump by persons who are untrained in how mental impairment can manifest. Indeed, the vast array of healthy human behaviors makes it difficult for the ordinary person to detect disability other than in the most obvious cases. Further, the more impaired the individual, the more likely he or she is to deny pathological behavior and insist that it is by choice. In our culture, mental impairment, unlike other medical illnesses, still connotes a moral failure—leading to its denial or use only in epithets. Yet it can afflict anyone, it is nonpartisan, and we can identify it through objective criteria.


The Goldwater rule, which specifies that psychiatrists cannot diagnose a public figure without a face-to-face evaluation, has contributed to the lack of discourse and education about Mr. Trump. An expansion of the rule by the American Psychiatric Association in March 2017 further compromised that possibility.



Loaded Language

Watch for loaded language any time you hear a politician speak; you’re sure to hear lots of it!


There’s no denying President Trump repeatedly uses his words to convey powerful messages. Take a scroll through his 20 Most Frequently Used Words.



Psychopathy –


Psychopaths can be successful because of their complete lack of restraint and not worrying about consequences. They have no inhibitions against lying and no anxiety when discovered. They will simply turn to another story. Association with a psychopath is essentially always detrimental.


A common feature of the psychopath is accusing all others of the very thing the psychopath does. Because psychopaths are generally good liars, this can considerably muddy practical situations. Also, a psychopath will often create dissent by playing parties against each other. . . Possible variations on social manipulation are endless.


In terms of game theory, a self-serving strategy may work best in a society broadly embracing self-serving values. This has been studied in some depth at the FotCM and various articles have been written about this. Thus we could say that this is the world of the psychopath and encourages even those not born as such to act like ones.


There are some puzzling traits that can be extracted from Cleckley’s and others’ case studies. These traits cannot fully be explained by simple ruthless exclusive preoccupation with gain for self, although this too can be present. It is as if some functions were simply missing or worked in reverse. Psychopaths can thus display a strange flakiness.


For example, a psychopath can mimic normalcy, successfully function in a career and so forth, but will feel a build-up of pressure that must be released in the form of some debauch, excess, recklessness, vulgarity. . . Such a tendency tends to give them away, although many successful ones likely have this aspect well separated from public life.


A psychopath may prefer crime or dishonesty also in a situation where this does not offer even short term advantage.



New Scientist


DAILY NEWS | January 20, 2017


Manipulative, dishonest and lacking in empathy – the traits that describe a psychopath aren’t particularly pleasant. But the idea that they are also fiendishly clever – as often portrayed in films and TV – isn’t quite true. In fact, in general, psychopaths seem to have below-average intelligence.


You have probably met a psychopath at some point in your life. They make up around 1 per cent of the population, says Brian Boutwell at St Louis University in Missouri. A person is classified as a psychopath if they achieve a certain score on a test of psychopathic traits, which include callousness, impulsiveness, aggression and a sense of grandiosity. “Not all psychopaths will break the law or hurt someone, but the odds of them doing so are higher,” says Boutwell.


Because many psychopaths are charming and manipulative, people have assumed they also have above-average intelligence, says Boutwell. Psychologists term this the “Hannibal Lecter myth”, referring to the fictional serial killer, cannibal and psychiatrist from the book and film The Silence of the Lambs.


But Boutwell wasn’t convinced. “Psychopaths are impulsive, have run-ins with the law and often get themselves hurt,” he says. “That led me to think they’re not overly intelligent.”


Not so smart

To investigate, Boutwell and his colleagues analysed the results of 187 published studies on intelligence and psychopathy. These papers included research on psychopaths in prison as well as those enjoying high-flying careers. They also included a range of measures of intelligence.


Overall, the team found no evidence that psychopaths were more intelligent than people who don’t have psychopathic traits. In fact, the relationship went the other way. The psychopaths, on average, scored significantly lower on intelligence tests. “I think the results will surprise a lot of people,” says Boutwell.


Matt DeLisi at Iowa State University hopes that the findings will help put the Hannibal Lecter myth to rest. “The character promulgated the notion that psychopaths were highly intelligent, and there were real offenders that embodied this, like Ted Bundy,” says DeLisi. “But I have interviewed thousands of offenders, some of which are very psychopathic, and I have found that the opposite is true.”







Don’t Be Trumped by Doppelgängers


By Paul Morantz | May 26, 2017


Author of Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults (with Hal Lancaster) and From Miracle to Madness.


A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence…anyone who wishes to produce an effect upon it needs no logical arguments; he must paint in forcible colors, must exaggerate, and he must repeat the same thing again and again…(The group) wants to be ruled and impressed, and to fear its masters … And, finally, groups have never thirst after truth… They are almost as influenced by what is not true as by what is true… A group is an obedient herd, which could never live without a master. . .”


–  Sigmund Freud


“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”


“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”


– George Orwell


All that Freud and Orwell asserted about groups and political language has been proven anew with the improbable ascendancy of Donald Trump to President of the United States, an apparent doppelgänger of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard—from his hair to flair for revenge.


In a few short months of campaigning and governing, the pride of Mar-A-Lago has seemingly wiped out the last vestiges of civility, honesty and common sense in presidential politics and turned the Oval Office into a Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey side show.


And yet, after all the lies, position flip-flops, erratic behavior, brazen conflicts of interest, childish, thin-skinned attacks on the media, offensive comments about minorities, women and the entire Middle East, not to mention the investigations into his curious relationship with Russia that has led to the doorstep of impeachment, many of those who voted for him still maintain their unflagging support.


For the love of sanity, how is this possible?


I’ve been repeating that phrase for many months now, after each unconscionable act, events that would have torpedoed any other political campaign. And yet, here we are, on the precipice of calamity, with Trump eviscerating regulations that will loose the beasts of Wall Street and the energy industry, threatening to build a wall that will waste billions of dollars, spreading chaos in health and education, proposing massive cuts to programs that benefit the poor and promising to shut down any program or agency that could protect us from climate change and environmental abuses. Do you remember the megalomaniacal general played by Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove? Don’t look now, but he’s President and commander-in-chief, the man with his finger on the button. Isn’t that a sobering thought?





Is Donald Trump’s mental health becoming dangerous?


By Bandy X. Lee, Forensic psychiatrist, Yale School of Medicine | Dec 8, 2017


Medical experts weigh in.
Medicine is an equalizer, and the president may find that he cannot outrun his own condition.


A group of us put our concerns into a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. That book became an instant New York Times bestseller. Within days, it was out of stock at the big outlets and sold out in bookstores around the country. One of the nation’s largest publishers could not keep up with the demand for weeks. Clearly, our concerns were resonating with the public.





Bella Depaulo | Dec 8, 2017


I study liars for a living. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.


I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Donald Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people’s.


In research beginning in the mid-1990s, when I was a professor at the University of Virginia, my colleagues and I asked 77 college students and 70 people from the nearby community to keep diaries of all the lies they told every day for a week. They handed them in to us with no names attached. We calculated participants’ rates of lying and categorise each lie as either self-serving (told to advantage the liar or protect the liar from embarrassment, blame or other undesired outcomes) or kind (told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else).


At The Washington Post, the Fact Checker feature has been tracking every false and misleading claim and flip-flop made by Trump this year. The inclusion of misleading statements and flip-flops is consistent with the definition of lying my colleagues and I gave to our participants: “A lie occurs any time you intentionally try to mislead someone.” In the case of Trump’s claims, though, it is possible to ascertain only whether they were false or misleading, and not what the president’s intentions were.


By telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own – we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.



News & Politics
Amanda Marcotte
June 25, 2018


Is Donald Trump incompetent? Not nearly as much as liberals hope.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately it must be said: Donald Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.



The Gentle Souls Revolution Blog


The Trump Cult




If you can defend ripping kids from parents, you are in a cult.



In May, 2017, I posted this: Gaslight, USA! Today’s Trouncing –Your Healthcare.


In the post, I quoted cultic studies guru, Robert J. Lifton: cults see themselves as “…agents ‘chosen’ to carry out the ‘mystical imperative’ … which must supersede all decency or immediate human welfare. Similarly, any thought or action which questions the motives of the higher purpose is considered … backward, selfish and petty in the face of the great overriding mission.


Today, the Daily KOS posted this: Trumpism is a Cult. You may be interested in reading it. I suspect it will ring familiar.






July 2, 2018


The Trump Administration’s Family Values


The policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border was the purest distillation yet of what it means to be governed by a President with no moral center.



• abusive and violent partners and family members
• abusers of people in care
• bullying neighbours, landlords, authorities, etc
• confidence tricksters and swindlers
• (religious) cult leaders
• child bullies who are impervious to corrective action
• racial and sexual harassers
• sexual abusers and pedophiles, especially operating

 from a position of trust or untouchability
• rapists
• stalkers
• arsonists
• violent offenders, including serial killers


The common objective of these offenders is power, control, domination and subjugation, the only difference being the way they express their violence. Offenses committed by people in this list are typically regarded as criminal and arrestable.


One possible explanation for investigators and fellow managers being so easily manipulated by a serial bully appears in the research paper by Clive R Boddy, entitled “Corporate Psychopaths, Bullying and Unfair Supervision in the Workplace” (2011):

“The cold-heartedness and manipulativeness of the psychopath are reported to be the traits that are the least discernable to others and this allows them to gain other people’s confidence and facilitates their entry into positions where they can gain most benefit for themselves and do harm to others (Mahaffey and Marcus, 2006).”



See: POLITICAL PONEROLOGY: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes by Andrew M. Lobaczewski.


Doris Lessing
Useful Idiots


Yuri Bezmenov
Deception Was My Job



Commonwealth Club
July 11, 2018


Malcolm Nance

How Russia Is Destroying Democracy



Do Democrats really believe that Russia influenced Americans to vote for Trump?


Lee Thé, works at Retired/working on a Novel
Answered on Quora May 19, 2018


I worked as an advertising copywriter and account executive for six years. During that time I studied the profession, and one thing I found was that the people most influenced by advertising sincerely believed—and with absolute certainty—that they weren’t affected by advertising in the slightest.




Does Trump act like a president, or does he act like a cult leader?


Edward Donner, Concerned Citizen
Answered on Quora Sep 15, 2018


Below is a list of fifty characteristics of cult leaders taken from “Dangerous Cult Leaders”.  Read ‘em. Keep track of how many apply to Trump.




Article by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman 

Sept. 4, 2018


President Trump and his administration have been unsettled by Bob Woodward’s book Fear, which will be published next Tuesday.  Doug Mills/The New York Times


WASHINGTON — President Trump so alarmed his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, during a discussion last January of the nuclear standoff with North Korea that an exasperated Mr. Mattis told colleagues “the president acted like — and had the understanding of — a ‘fifth or sixth grader.’”




James Devlin



Nothing more than most people expected. Yet to read it from a world-renowned journalist of Bob Woodward’s caliber makes it all the more unsettling. The republicans are selling out America to get court picks. They well know Trump is insane, and yet are willing to play along with this lunacy of a presidency based upon lies so long as they get their agenda rammed through. That’s not politics, that’s shameful and morally and criminally corrupt.


Beware the insidious nature within.


“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.” — Cicero



The Washington Post

June 4, 2012


How Mark Felt Became ‘Deep Throat’
By Bob Woodward
June 20, 2005


In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House.

One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed gray hair came in and sat down near me . . .



Trump Card Cults
By Jeremy Sherman Ph.D.
July 24, 2018


Winter of ‘78: Jim Jones and his cult followers had just drunk their poison Kool-Aid in Guyana– 900 dead. And I was off to Guatemala with my spiritual commune to do poverty relief work. My family was worried.


They were also annoyed by what I had become, a know-it-all, confident that I could beat any challenge to my smug, all-knowing spiritual truths. I had fallen for the cult mindset, that heady sense that you hold all the cards, a high so self-aggrandizing that people are willing to drink the Kool-Aid.


Aid is the operative word. Though my commune was wholesome, I pretended it fool-proofed my life, like it had issued me a deck of trump cards to trump all challenges to my humble spiritual authority, the greatest aid any of us could ever crave.


Life is an anxious affair. We all fear failure and therefore might be tempted by the fake trump-card aid that cults provide – I once was lost but now I’m found instead of I once was lost and could be still.


Today we wonder whether the GOP has become the Trump cult. All cults are trump-card cults, issuing to members the same deck of fake get-out-of-fail-free cards. Cults don’t brainwash, they head swell. People throw all in to cults so they can keep all self-doubt out.



What is Truth?
An overview of the philosophy of truth.


By Neel Burton M.D.
Aug 23, 2018


Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. –Thoreau


When Truth Isn’t Truth

Today, God may be dying, but what about truth? Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trumps personal lawyer, claimed that “Truth isn’t truth,” while Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counsellor, presented the public with what she called “alternative facts.” Over in the U.K. in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, Michael Gove, then Minister of Justice and Lord Chancellor, opined that people “have had enough of experts.”


One way to understand truth is simply to look at its opposites, namely, lies and bullsh*t. The liar must track the truth in order to conceal it. In contrast, the bullsh*tter has no regard or sensitivity for the truth, or even for what his or her audience believes.



The Hollywood Reporter


Michael Moore Plays His Trump Card:
A New Movie, Modern Fascism and a 2020 Prediction


By Gregg Kilday
Sept 5, 2018


He’s America’s most successful documentarian and one of the few on the left who predicted the 2016 election upset. Now, as Moore readies his anticipated polemic ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ for its Toronto film festival debut, he takes aim at Trump (and Nancy Pelosi … and Harvey Weinstein …) and those actually responsible for the president’s rapid rise to power (hint: Gwen Stefani).


The first time Michael Moore encountered Donald Trump, the filmmaker uncharacteristically held his tongue. The two had been booked as guests in 1998 on Roseanne Barr’s afternoon talk show, The Roseanne Show, taping at New York’s Tavern on the Green. Trump’s The Art of the Deal had been published in 1987 while Moore had already earned a reputation as a cheeky provocateur out to puncture capitalism’s balloon with his 1989 doc Roger & Me, and so when Trump spotted Moore, he threatened to walk.



Psychiatrist Justin Frank on Trump’s “God complex”: He is “erotically attached to violence”


By Chauncey DeVega

Nov 13, 2018


Donald Trump is an authoritarian in waiting who acts as though he believes himself to be God. How does he convince himself that the rules do not apply to him? What is the role of violence in Trump’s appeal and power? Is Trump responsible in some ways for the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the other hate crimes and acts of violence which have taken place during his campaign and now presidency? What role does violence play in Donald Trump’s cult of personality? How do his apparent mental pathologies help him to manipulate his supporters and the American people at large?


In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Dr. Justin Frank.



With the recent elections and Trump’s behavior this past week, is there any indication that his solid support might be waning?


Bruce Spielbauer
Answered on Quora Nov 14, 2018


A significant portion of Trump’s solid support will never waver. (Especially the white supremacists, and the Evangelicals, and the 1% who support him for those tax cuts he gave to the rich and the corporations). Those who follow him as a cult leader. They will never waver, no matter what.


The same thing was true with Nixon, and Watergate. Even after the whole world heard the “smoking gun tapes,” there were those who still stood by their criminal. I have a cousin, who is one of these. He argued at the time that “well, all politicians do it!” I last spoke to him three weeks ago, and he still maintains that same support for a known criminal.


Trump’s disapproval rating (in polls), though, is the figure to watch. It has been higher than any other president since modern polling began.


And, that has not changed, since the day he put his hand on some book and pretended to swear some oath, in January, of 2017.

(Sidenote — when Nixon resigned, the last polls taken a few days before, showed him at 24% approval rating. Almost one fourth of the nation did not care that he was a criminal. They still “approved” of their criminal. But, Nixon’s DISAPPROVAL rating was the second highest in polling history. The only president with a higher disapproval rating, was, of course, a guy by the name of Donald Trump.)



Yale psych prof: If Trump weren’t president he would be “contained and evaluated”


By Chauncey DeVega

Feb 22, 2019


At the center of the chaotic maelstrom that is the Trump presidency is the question of Donald Trump’s mental health. His public behavior (and, by most accounts, his private behavior as well) is that of a man who is a compulsive liar and malignant narcissist, is paranoid, lacks in impulse control and lives in an alternate reality of his own creation.


Donald Trump has recently declared a “national emergency” in order to further expand his power and gut American democracy and the Constitution in the service of his radically destructive right-wing agenda. But in reality it is Donald Trump who is the actual national emergency, an obvious threat to this country and the entire world.


Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe recently revealed that officials in the Justice Department discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from power. Yet it also may be true that Trump’s apparent mental health problems are actually helping him to remain in power and to control his supporters.


How are mentally unwell leaders more dangerous than leaders who are “merely” criminals? How have the American people become so numb to Trump and the Republican Party’s assault on American democracy and the common good? How is dangerous behavior normalized in an unhealthy society — such as ours? How are Trump and his movement affecting negatively the mental and physical health of the American people?


In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Dr. Bandy Lee. She is a psychiatrist at Yale University and a leading voice among the growing number of mental health and other medical professionals who have been trying to raise public awareness about Donald Trump’s mental health.





Trump’s Acquittal Shows The GOP Senate Acts Like A Cult



WhaleRiderMay 11, 2020 Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


“…he is actually testing people’s loyalty to the ‘laws’ of his mind over the laws of nature, or even impulse for survival. The more he abuses them, the greater their devotion grows, since the psychological cost of admitting their mistake is ever higher — and so it becomes easier to dig a well of unreality than to see the obvious truth.


Mental symptoms do not discriminate between levels of intelligence. What we are seeing is what mental health experts warned would happen if we left a severely impaired person in an influential position without treatment, and what others have described as a cult.


But what I find most insidious is the contagion of symptoms: prolonged exposure…causes you to ‘catch’ his worldview, and even the healthiest, soundest people turn ‘crazy,’ as if afflicted with the same condition.


This is a known phenomenon I have encountered a great deal from working in underserved settings. It is interchangeably called ‘shared psychosis,’ ‘folie à plusieurs’ or ‘induced delusional disorder.’ The cure is removal. Then, quite dramatically, an entire afflicted family, street gang or prison cell-block that seemed almost ‘possessed’ returns to normal.


When experts call out abnormal signs, it is not a diagnosis but important information… It is not up to mental health experts to say how it is to be done, but it is our responsibility to say what must be done, based on our best assessment. Our prescription is removal.”


~ Dr Bandy X. Lee, on testing loyalty in the cult of Trump.





The coronavirus pandemic has made Trump’s psychiatric issues clear. We should remove him for our own safety


Bandy X Lee 
Yale University | Mar 24, 2020


We knew this presidency would be deadly. We were not exaggerating when, three years ago, we put together the public-service book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. We meant in part that the president would be dangerous to civic life, to democracy, and to the nation’s mental health — but we also meant that he would endanger lives.


Politics did not concern us. We are health professionals. Everything falls secondary to life and death, including politics.


After we got together to write the book, hundreds, and later thousands, more mental health professionals gathered from all over the country and the world with their shared concerns. Together we formed first the National Coalition, and then the World Mental Health Coalition, to organize around our goal of societal safety.


Through consultation with Congress members, letters, petitions, and education of the public, we tried to emphasize that mental impairment in the office of the US presidency is a serious matter.


“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were—they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” an intelligence official recently said about the lack of mobilization around the now deadly coronavirus pandemic.


His behavior is exactly what we expect of someone who is dangerously lacking in mental capacity. Just when surveillance was needed, he was more preoccupied with “keeping the numbers low” than testing and containment. And when behavioral change would decide the scale of the eventual calamity, he defiantly appeared in crowds, shaking hands and touching surfaces all the more.


As his rallies were canceled, he used daily press conferences for his emotional compulsion to create a desired, alternative reality, through delusional-level distortion and misinformation, rather than working to save lives. The pandemic makes stark the deadliness of his symptoms, and if we believe those around him will be able to contain or go around them, we are mistaken.


Here we enter the realm of pathology. What is truly dangerous is not the overt symptoms — even a psychotic patient wearing a tinfoil hat is not very dangerous — but the denial and the extent to which one would go to cover up symptoms. And this also goes for the president’s handlers, by extension. We call this “loss of insight.” It is the loss of ability to take care of oneself or to see that one has a problem, which diminishes all the more in those who need intervention the most.


On top of this, mental symptoms such as denial, projection (blaming others for what one is doing), and the inflation of non-realities while suppressing reality will be all the more unrelenting and non-negotiable when severe. Not only that, but where there is prolonged exposure to severe symptoms, previously sound individuals will start losing their own grounding in reality and take on similar symptoms.


Disease is unlike normal variation. It brings damage and death, which is why we treat. Just as with the viral pandemic, early signs may be difficult to detect, and warning signs may not always be visible to the untrained eye. But those who have seen similar cases in the past can recognize the signs early, know how serious will be their course, and bring greater precision to needed management, even if the circumstances are novel. In other words, expertise makes a difference. Without it, the danger of minimizing and normalizing pathology is too great.


Normal choices are flexible, adaptable, and life-affirming. Pathology is rigid, stereotypical, and follows very closely other cases of disease. No matter the immediate, accidental advantages — which the president calls his “gut”, when they are actually symptoms — the course is destructive: whether we look at healthcare, domestic tranquility, global security, pandemic preparedness, or an artificially bloated economy, pathological decisions have one eventual trajectory. It is the definition of disease.


As the death toll from coronavirus mounts, we have a decision to make. We have learned from the pandemic that prevention is key. A leadership worse than its absence can mean the difference between a contained outbreak and a catastrophe.


There will be many more critical junctures in not just the coming months but days and even hours as the crisis deepens. A president’s mental incapacity, at this level of severity, is not an issue that non-experts can grasp or handle. Whether it is impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or an ultimatum on resignation is for the politicians to decide, but our prescription is removal. It is a prescription for survival.