“At some point, you are working for a president who is not fit to lead, who is going to do something crazy in five minutes, one hour, tonight or tomorrow. What more do you need to hear from him to start thinking 25th Amendment or something else?”
Mika Brzezinski talking about Donald Trump.
“Through our observations, we can see Trump as embodying an unconstrained present hedonist, living only in the present moment and saying whatever it takes to pump up his ego and assuage his inherent low self-esteem, without thought of past reality or potentially devastating future consequences. He is the poster boy for a time perspective that is totally unbalanced. Unfortunately, given his personality type, there is little hope of reversal or any meaningful improvement.”
“No one should be taking Kanye West seriously. Why not? Because he clearly has issues. He’s already been hospitalized.”
Tara Setmayer of CNN discussing Kanye West’s meeting with Donald Trump in the White House.
“The specter of mental illness does indeed loom large over creationists, but they are not alone. Signs of psychopathology can also be seen among their political bedfellows, conservative politicians, especially when you consider a wide range of illness indicators. In his award-winning 2005 book, Dr. James Whitney Hicks discusses 50 signs of mental illness including denial, delusion, hallucination, disordered thinking, anger, anti-social behavior, sexual preoccupation, grandiosity, general oddness, and paranoia. Now I’m no clinician, but in my (admittedly biased brown) eyes it seems that prominent Republicans have evidenced each of these ten telltale signs of mental illness over the past year.”
Barry X. Kuhle, Professor Scranton University
“Most importantly, Trump’s disregard for democracy and his abuse of presidential power to advance his own (and the Republican Party’s) goals are enabled by his malignant narcissism and apparent sociopathy. In short, Donald Trump can be described as a would-be despot, a petit-fascist and a person suffering from significant mental impairment. None of these conclusions is mutually exclusive.”
The quotes above are just a sampling of what has become a flood of commentary from the left to the effect that Donald Trump, anyone who supports Donald Trump and, increasingly, anyone who opposes the so-called progressive agenda is, to use a clinical term, nuts. Long gone are the days when reasonable men and women might disagree. We are now moving rapidly to a place where there will be only one acceptable way to think and act, and anyone who dares protest will be defined as insane.
We have been here before. The world created just such a madhouse. It was called the Soviet Union.
Over the course of its 70-year history, the Soviet Union devised many means for throttling opposition and keeping the people in line. Its system of GULAG’s, Siberian labor camps, is well known. During the 1960’s and 1970’s though, the Communist Party perfected the tactic of declaring counter-revolutionaries mentally ill and locking them away in institutions. After all, when the Party has a lock on wisdom and can rewrite history at will, only a madman would stand against it.
In its own sick, twisted way declaring political opponents mentally ill was brilliant. It did not simply remove a potential threat from circulation, it discredited him and made it impossible for others to stand with him. Once a position was defined as being the product of mental illness, anyone else espousing it would be, in effect, labeling themselves crazy as well. As Nikita Khrushchev noted in 1959, it was impossible for sane people in a communist society to have an anti-communist consciousness, and therefore “Of those who might start calling for opposition to Communism on this basis, we can say that clearly their mental state is not normal.”
Over time, Soviet definitions of mental illness were formally expanded to include political disobedience. An entire system of psykhushkas (psycho-prisons) was established to house the dissidents confined there, undergoing “treatment” for their illness.
When open dissent became more common in the 1960’s the Soviet state ramped up its use of this technique. KBG chairman Yuri Andropov, who went on to become the leader of the Soviet Union, called for a renewed struggle against “dissidents and their imperialist masters.” Andropov issued a decree on “measures for preventing dangerous behavior on the part of mentally ill persons.” Psychiatrists were directed to diagnose and confine anyone who fit the description of a political agitator. To facilitate this action, a formal diagnosis was created – “sluggish schizophrenia.” According to this psychological disorder, anyone who opposed the Soviet regime was considered to be mentally unwell. There simply could be no other logical rationale why anyone would oppose the world’s greatest society. Political deviance meant automatically a failure to grasp reality.
By definition, this disorder – sluggish schizophrenia – could not be cured. Harming yourself or others was not required for a diagnosis. Individuals were labeled as mentally ill based on “anti-social” tendencies like pessimism, poor social adaptation, conflict with authorities, “reform delusions,” perseverance, and “struggles for truth and justice.” If you bucked the system you were clearly mad.
How many people were locked away in this manner is unknown. Estimates of 20,000 are considered very low. In 1988 it was announced that of the 5.5 million people on the psychotic register in the Soviet Union 30% would be taken off the list due to concerns that they had been improperly labeled as mentally ill.
We are not there yet, but we are drifting in that direction. From the left, in particular, comes an increasing strain of intolerance. Political debate everyday becomes less and less about facts and reason and more and more about demonization and winning at all costs. Increasingly, what we hear are Democratic politicians talking, not in terms of opinion or belief, but in terms of articles of faith and a belief that they have a lock on wisdom.
Down this road lies only destruction. When you cease to believe in your own fallibility, when you cease to believe in even the possibility that you could be wrong, when you define all who oppose you by definition as being the enemy, you have left the world of political discourse and reason and moved to a much darker, much more dangerous place. You are now somewhere where the ends justify the means, where your opponents can and should be crushed and eliminated and where no dissent can be tolerated.
There was a time when the prospect of people being diagnosed as mentally ill, because they dared to hold a contrary opinion would have seemed ludicrous in America. Sadly, no longer. Let’s hope we all take a step back, absorb the implications of that and move on together toward a brighter future and not one that contains American “psykhushkas.”