A group of psychiatrists and psychologists gathered Tuesday for a panel discussion titled "The Increasingly Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

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May 01, 2018 04:42 PM

President Donald Trump has called himself a “very stable genius” — but a group of esteemed mental health professionals apparently don’t agree.

A group of psychiatrists and psychologists gathered Tuesday for a panel discussion titled “The Increasingly Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” and argued that President Trump’s “mental instability,” pattern of violence-inciting rhetoric and multiple lies are “dangerous” — and have already caused unprecedented anxiety and stress across the nation.

One of the doctors, from Yale, says she has even had private meetings with concerned members of Congress to talk about Trump’s mental instability.

“It is our consensus view that Mr. Trump in the office of the presidency is a danger to the nation and the world,” Dr. Bandy Lee, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, said during the discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Lee and other panelists stressed that they are non-partisan, and feel a duty to tell the public about their observations — while they refrain from providing any official diagnosis.  Last October, Lee also published a book titled The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.

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Trump “has repeatedly shown evidence of how dangerous he is” because of his ability to stimulate violence,” Dr. Jim Gilligan, professor of clinical psychiatry at New York University’s school of medicine, said Tuesday.

Trump’s encouragement of attendees at his campaign rallies to punch protesters, his defense of white nationalists in Charlottesville last year, and suggestion that if opponent Hillary Clinton won the election, his followers could assassinate her are some examples, he says.

“Our responsibility here as psychiatrists,” Gilligan says, “is to warn the public when we have reason to believe, based on our research with the most dangerous people in society, that a public figure by virtue of the actions he takes represents a danger to public health.”

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Trump’s increasing isolation since taking office, with the resignations of once-trusted advisers such as Hope Hicks, leaves Trump frighteningly alone with access to the nuclear code and his ability to start a nuclear war, says psychologist Ed Fisher, Ph.D., a professor of public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

That unfettered ability to wage nuclear war is made all the more frightening when combined with Trump’s long, frequent pattern of “delusional lies” that can indicate a disconnection from reality, says Michael Tansey, a clinical psychologist from Chicago.

“We have lost focus on preventing Trump from firing a nuclear missile,” says Tansey. “There is no limit to Trump’s potential danger when he hears Mueller coming down the hallway with handcuffs. We are not nearly as afraid as we need to be.”

Patients of Betty Teng, a trauma therapist in Manhattan, suffer from anxiety, insomnia and other disorders related to Trump’s “bullying words, aggressive actions and denials of truth,” she says. Many patients are either in sustained states of hyper anxiety or, because they are so overwhelmed, withdraw from paying attention to the news, she says.

“Nationwide, mental health clinics and psychotherapists have seen a surge in patients,” she says, “and the term ‘post Trump stress disorder’ has been coined. The president’s constant barrage of volatile language exacerbates this stress.”

Lee, of Yale, says that she’s spoken to over a dozen lawmakers about Trump’s mental instability. All but one was a Democrat.

“They were worried about the president’s access to the nuclear codes and that there are no official checks in place,” she says. “Their concern is huge.”

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