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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
June 23, 2020

One Thing Leads to Another

The West Point staggering ramp exit led to a long, incoherent ramble in Tulsa, which led to the defeated body language on the walk across the White House lawn. This led me to think about a few recent conversation with some friends and associates about Trump's mental state and physical health. I can easily sum up his mental state: Trump is, by every definition, a sociopath, and he is currently in a bitter, angry mood.

In a recent conversation, a person I know well and trust in terms of accuracy and I focused on Trump's recent behaviors. I stated that I think it fits firmly in what is to be expected of a sociopath. My friend said that this is obviously part of it, but that there is increasing concern among those in the administration, and republicans in both houses of Congress, about Trump's physical health.

I had seen a few people had suggested the ramp walk indicated Parkinson's disease, which I did not agree with. My friend said that he agreed it wasn't indicated at this time. Instead, he said that the republicans in DC were concerned that Trump has been displaying -- and not merely in one awkward attempt to walk down a ramp -- symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy, a type of dementia that involves the gradual deterioration of the same parts of the brain that sociopathy is rooted.

There had been a thing on facebook about this after that ramp walk. I told my friend that I assumed it was wishful thinking upon anti-Trump people's part. He said three things that I found important: first, that it was people within the administration that were whispering about PSP months before the ramp walk, that I should speak to some medical experts, and that if indeed it is PSP, things will be far worse between now and January.

In the past, I would have immediately contacted a cousin who was the head of neurology at Temple, but he is no longer living. Luckily, as a result of long-term damage from boxing, and shorter-term issues from a serious brain injury, I know other medical professionals who patiently answer my questions. Thus, I focused on the two that are most responsive to my calls. Both of them, I should add, are generally non-political, a factor that prevented me from being able to keep their focus off of my issues when I was in their care.

Both said that one could never diagnose PSP without seeing a patient in person. The ramp walk alone could be related to several other factors. Both said that no one would look at Trump and say he appears to be in good health. In fact, his reportedly poor diet would be of interest to a physician, including if one were concerned about other symptoms of PSP that Trump has displayed at various times. But, at this point, PSP would be one of several "rule outs" a doctor would have in mind.

I asked one of the two if it was likely that his behaviors were simply those of an aging , over-weight sociopath under severe stress? She said that while mental health issues are not her area of study, it is one of several possibilities. She noted that from what she has seen since he entered the 2016 republican primary, his range of moods appears to be limited to paranoid, furious, and pleasure when bullying a target of his fears and anger.

She added one thing that sticks with me. The combination of sociopathy and PSP would create a synergy that would be especially dangerous to this country if Trump thought he was going to lose the November election. PSP can progress rapidly once a cluster of symptoms appear. One thing leads to another.
June 9, 2020

Please Help!

On Saturday, June 6, there was a Black Lives Matter rally in Delihi, N.Y. Delhi is the seat of Delaware County, and the only town in the state's largest county to have a college. The rally was attended by over 200 people, and was orderly and peaceful.

However, during the rally, a men wearing a MAGA hat and carrying an offensive sign approached the rally. He was accompanied by a young girl, who appeared to be a grade school student. Almost immediately, this man was aggressively confronting the smallest black teenager he could find.

A group of older women got between the man and the teenager. They attempted to reason with him, which only resulted in his becoming enraged. He actually threatened to punch one old lady. This was clearly upsetting to his daughter (or granddaughter), and other children attending the rally.

Luckily for this fellow, a Delhi police officer intervened and removed him from the rally. When two newspaper reporters asked him his name, he refused to answer. However, some people at the rally recognized him. His name is Chris Cormier, who teaches introductory psychology at SUNY-Delhi.

There is a grass roots' effort to get the college's administration to evaluate Mr. Cormier's actions. This is not about free speech, bu rather about the synergy of hate speech and physical threats. The state's colleges and universities should not employ such a man.

Below is a petition from change.org asking the college to take action:

SUNY-Delhi's president is George Spielman, who can be reached at 607-746-4090, or by e-mail at [email protected] .Please consider signing the petition, and contacting the college's president.

June 8, 2020



Later today I will be posting an essay that asks for your help. On Saturday, there was a Black Lives Matter rally in Delhi, NY (Delaware County). My younger son and his lady were there, and enjoying the presentations by Good People. Suddenly, there was a confrontation. A freak donning a MAGA hat, carrying an insulting sign, began confronting people aggressively, and threatened to punch an elderly woman.

He was accompanied by a youngster who apparently was either his granddaughter or daughter. What a terrible experience for a child who appeared to be of grade school age. It might have become an even worse experience for the freak, if the police had not come and removed him.

As it turns out, this guy teaches psychology at SUNY-Delhi. I will be posting more information, including the phone number and e-mail address for the college's administration. They need to evaluate their employee's actions. I believe in free speech, but not hate speech that threatens the public's well-being.

Thank you for reading this. I appreciate any interest and support.
H2O Man
June 6, 2020

Braking News

(H2O News) 6-5-2020: The H2O News Network has just received the transcript of a top secret meeting between President Trump and Attorney Generally William Barr, in response to a Freedom from Trump's Information court filing.

Trump was furious after hearing reports on twitter that Tiffany Trump had participated in a recent Black Lives Matter rally. His mood became increasingly foul since White House staff reminded him that Tiffany is his daughter. Trump demands that White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany issue an immediate press release stated that he had never masterbated while thinking of Tiffany, as he only fantasizes about having sex with Ivanka.

The transcript of his conversation with A.G. Barr included Trump's anger that Tiffany told H2O News that she was disgusted by his uncoordinated attempt to hold up the bible at a photo opportunity. "It's fucking obscene," Tiffany said, "that he would hold up a book he's never read. He should start with the part of the gospels where a non-white man over-turned the tables of the money-changers in the temple."

On the transcript, Trump repeatedly asks Barr if this non-white man was Barack Obama? Each time Barr said no, Trump insisted that it was. According to McEnany, Trump ordered Barr to begin an investigation of the bible, with a goal of "prosecuting that black man to the fullest extent possible."

At this point, as Barr seeks to assure Trump that he's "on it," Donald calls for Stephan Miller to be ushered into the Oval Office. Trump says that Mike Pence is harming his chances for re-election, and asks Miller what steps he has taken to explore the possibility of dropping Pence from the 2020 ticket?

Miller says that he held a meeting with Sean Hannity and Alex Jones, to come up with a list of the strongest possible replacements. Miller begins reading the list: "James Holmes, Jared Lee Loughner, Eric Harris, John Wayne Gacy ...."

Trump immediately interrupts, "I always liked that Gacy guy's movies. Very patriotic." With that, the meeting ends.

June 4, 2020

Fire & Rain

I'm happy to be able to say that I am alive. Some slight discomfort, short of actual pain, in my face and sides. For when one reaches my advanced age, prolonged laughter has consequences. This has been on-going for a few days of my existence in a very republican section of upstate New York.

There was a "Black Lives Matter" rally in a public park in the largest town in the county. For days, on a facebook gossip group that too often channels the inner demons of Sean Hannity, rumors competed to reach the staus of "most delusional." George Soros was busing very dangerous black people to burn the town. Soros was encouraging Antifa to come by caravan to do unpeakable evils. Both men and women, perhaps intoxicated on liquor, chattered about the security that their gun collects provided them.

The rally, by the way, was both called for and organized by students attending the town's high school. They are all good young people who in most other times are known to make the community proud. The danger to the community was posed not by these students or there rally, but by the adults who seem incapable of listening to and understanding their message.

There are a number of good people who participate on the facebook group's page, but they are a tiny minority. I admire their calm determination to communicate sanely and rationally with the conspiracy theorists. But that can prove difficult in the face of imaginary non-white people who -- despite not existing anywhere but between the theorists' ears -- crowding reality out of the hearts and minds of the other side.

One man did post something about American Indians. He clearly did not want his land, located some thirty miles away from the rally, stolen from him. He also wanted to make it clear that he isn't a racist: he loves the Indians from the cowboy & western flicks he grew up on, and only hates black people. I know, dear reader, that like myself, you are thinking that the word "Noble" surely applies.

When family and friends ask me if things can possibly get worse, I assure them that they indeed will get worse within the next 24 hours. Frequently, one need not wait that long. Below that noble ode to open-mindedness referenced above was a response from one of his even more ignorant -- and fucking stupid -- buddies. "Fuck them! Indians kept declaring war on our country. They lost."

That stunned me. My mind was temporarily as foggy as if Sonny Liston had jabbed me. Is it humanly possible to be this dumb in 2020? I suppose about 25% of the voting public is. But wait! Could this be comic genius, making an uncomfortable yet hilarious joke at the racists' expense, like an Abbie Hoffman or a David Chappelle? If so, I was almost jealous.

Yet a quick check of this fool's FB status revealed that he was as stupid a human being as he appeared. I do not have the time, energy, or inclination to try to reason with him. Instead, I will sit out on my lawn, and enjoy the fact that there is absolutely no smoke rising on the horizen, darkening the sky above the town that didn't burn.

It must be a scary world the Trumpites inhabit.
H2O Man

May 30, 2020

Today's Hurricane

"In those days, I identified with the ideas of Malcolm X, his philosophy of 'by any means necessary,' rather than what I misinterpreted as the passivity of Dr. Martin Luther King" Rubin "Hurricane" Carter; Eye of the Hurricane; Lawrence Hill Books; 2011; page 62.

In the past couple of days, two of my best friends -- people who I've been close to for many years -- have contacted me, asking for some encouragement in these difficult days. I wish that I had some meaningful insight, and I do anticipate that in the future, things will improve. But I suspect that in the near future, say the summer of 2020, a number of significant social dynamics will get worse.
Until Trump is defeated in November, and removed from office in January, there will be more destruction to the foundation of our society. Intelligent people question if when defeated, Trump will cooperate with the peaceful transition of power that as defined the previous changes in administrations. I think that's a valid question. But before our nation reaches that point, we have to deal with what will be the long, hot summer of 2020.

Older forum members know the implications of the phase "long, hot summer." Malcolm used to speak about when conditions created a powder keg. He noted that you could toss burning matches at that keg, and nothing would happen. But if a spark hit a little fuse, there would be a big explosion. He knew that sparks fly during long, hot summers.

The brutal murder of George Floyd is highly disturbing to all good people. To me as an individual, it makes me physically sick to see even a still shot of that thug's knee on that man's neck. Yet that physical reaction is mild compared to the psychological pain of that single picture. It brings back memories that haunt me, of family and friends who have suffered similar attacks by vicious thugs. I feel every thing.

I experience mixed emotions while watching the protests in the streets of our nation's cities. I am encouraged to see young people on the front lines, demanding social justice. My mind wanders back in time, to when I was young and on those front lines. I think about one afternoon, when a small group of friends gathered at Onondaga Chief Oren Lyon's cabin. Two close friends, Lisa and Jim, along with myself and my two small sons, drove Chief Paul Waterman to this meeting.

It was a crazy time, really, but inside Oren's home, it was peaceful. Paul gave an outline about the specifics of the struggle we were involved in, and what Lis, Jim, and I were doing. I remember Oren smiling, and saying he was reminded of back when Paul and him were on the front lines when they were our age. Now, he said, they were Elders, and played a different role, one that coordinated with young adults to produce the best possible outcomes. For they had confronted te same issues, in different contexts, and could thus provide a voice of experience for us, as well as speaking to the larger society.

Both Martin and Malcolm were young men on the front lines. History records Martin being involved in protests in the streets more often than Malcolm, but there is a chapter in Malcolm's career that is important, one that I think too few young people know about. In 1957, the NYC police violently attacked three NOI members, causing Hinton Johnson severe head injuries. The police were holding Johnson at a station, denying him the emergency medical treatment required to save his life.

Soon, black citizens were gathering outside that police station, including a large number of NOI members. At first, the police denied Malcolm's attempts to get Johnson medical attention. But when the chief saw more than 500 people, in single file, surrounding the station, the dynamics changed. The police could not get the crowd to disperse. But after agreeing to get the victim of police brutality the medical attention, Malcolm shocked the police by giving a simple wave that got the crowd to leave in an orderly manner. A cop who was watching told a reporter, "No man should have that much power." As Malcolm later noted, he meant no black man.

Both Malcolm and Martin began to see the problem as being one of "human right," rather than simply "civil rights." I think that answers any question about why white people are protesting with black and brown people in America's streets today. I find myself thinking about the many marches and protests that I participated in as a young man. I am honest enough with myself to recognize that while I generally used good judgement, that wasn't always the case after the sun went down if I had been consuming alcohol.

My older daughter called me Thursday morning. She had just been hired to work for the head of the city council in one of America's largest cities. She'll be doing community outreach to marginalized populations. We talk about that, and then about other current events. When we get off the phone, I find myself thinking about being older than Oren and Paul were that afternoon they met with three young adults in Oren's cabin.

My adult sons remember that meeting primarily for all the treats Oren had for them while the adults were busy. Now it's their turn to be the young adults. (Note: any person 50 or under is "young" in my opinion.) Both are horrified by the brutal murder of George Floyd. It is a constant topic of conversation. During the week, I get more time to speak with my younger son, who has a passion for understanding systems -- including how dysfunction impacts them. At this point in time, he is better at organizing the various factors involved, and I enjoy listening to him present his ideas for orderly, systematic change. He understands that consequences are never coincidence.

I listen to him as I work on expanding my garden. Actually, he does any and all of the heavy work. Last year, he built a large labyrinth, with raised beds, that tells a story of history as one approaches the center. Being both Irish and Taurus, his stone work has perfect balance, down to the smallest detail. And even in the huge boulders -- the ones my friends my age shake their heads at, and ask how one person could have moved them such a distance.

I have purposely made the expanded beds outside of the labyrinth off-balance. Since he notices detail, I explained this is because the outside world always seems somewhat out of balance, and that one must go inside in order to be able to maintain balance. When the outside world is spinning faster and faster, seemingly out of control, Find your center. And that's not just a physical place -- a labyrinth, a sweat lodge, or where ever -- it is inside yourself.

Find that balance inside, recognizing what role you are currently in, and then and only then can we see what it is that we can and must do at this strange and dangerous time.

May 22, 2020


I usually do not write about personal issues here. Well, that's not really true. Plus, divorce is a big deal. I had opted for a separation from incoming film of Trump in April, opting to allow Stephen Colbert to represent my interests on television. I read some articles on the internet. But Trump is so toxic that I found not watching him was the healthy option.

Keep in mind that Trump wants every human being on Earth to watch and think about him each and every day. While I remain aware that he exists, I have better things to do with my time. And that obviously includes working for Democratic Party victories in November. I do not need to listen to any member of the Trump cult to focus on that.

While in my separation from listening to Trump phase, I took daily phone calls from family, friends, and/or associates, asking if I heard what he said or tweeted on that particular day? I noted that good people were becoming saturated in the anger and hostility that Trump was injecting into society. I found myself recalling a documentary I watched about an old man who only watched Fox News, morphing him from a decent gentleman into a raging turd. I strongly recommended these callers file for a separation from Trump, and place a restraining order on their televisions and computers.

As spring sprung, I began working in my garden, thinking more home-grown food might come in handy if Trump engineers a more total collapse of our country. Because I'm old and not nearly as strong as I was at age 26, I depend upon my young and enormously powerful sons to do the heavy lifting. I do the more technical tasks, including weeding, planting seeds, and changing the Beatles CDs as needed.

One son noted that weeds continue to sprout up in the garden beds. "The Earth is alive," I told him. That is a Good Thing that we should all be consciously aware of. Do not listen if Trump recommends injecting Round Up into the soil, for he is soon to be on the compost pile of the past.

The ultimate factor that led to the divorce was when my cousin called me, and was laughing so hard that it took several minutes before I understood what he was attempting to communicate. Trump told reporters that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure. Yikes! Perhaps the aging lard-ball is heading for an early round up in hell, if such a place exists anywhere outside of the current White House. The very idea has reportedly resulted in millions of agnostics and athiests praying for such an outcome.

However, it is important to recognize that there are other potential side effects. Taking this for no valid reason can cause some unattractive, long-term consequences. These include paranoid and delusional thinking, as if Trump's mushroom-shaped brain needs an increase in those areas. Quite literally, it can convince a person that someone else can hear their thoughts. Perhaps this explains why Trump, beyond campaigning, is refusing to participate in the hanging of President Obama's portrait in the White House. That painting might be spying on his every thought.

We have a president who, now taking hydroxychloroquine, increasing his moral hydrophobia and ethical hydrochlamydria, will become increasingly dangerous as he seeks to spread his disease. The next five months hold the potential for tragic events across the land. I refuse to allow Trump et al room in my mind. Instead, I prefer to be one of the weeds that choke the life out of any insanity Trump plants in the White House.

Be strong! Be safe!
H2O Man

May 9, 2020

An Odd End

Two of the three friends who called me yesterday spoke about the frustrations they had experienced earlier in the day, in conversations with otherwise good people who support Donald Trump. I attempted to explain why I generally do not share that level of frustration, although I certainly do understand it and appreciate the difficulties in communicating with members of the Trump cult. I suspect that when I spoke about some National Geographic specials on ABC in the mid-1960s, they wondered what the heck I was babbling about.

Now, this may sound like the long arm of coincidence, wrenching itself out of socket, but if you stick with me, it may not be that much of a stretch. In the 1960s, there were documentaries on Louis and Mary Leakey's discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in Africa. They found what were then recognized as the oldest stone tools produced by our early ancestors, dating back 1.85 to 1.77 million years ago. One of my late friends worked with them at the site, and I now ave his 50-piece collection of artifacts. I also have artifacts from Neanderthals in France, and the El-Adam culture in what is now part of the African desert. They are kept in my “home-museum” with the Native American artifacts that I have found spanning 10,000 years of local history.

(My interest in local Indian history was sparked in the first grade, when principal Howard Dunbar spoke to our class about Mohawk leader Joseph Brant's camp in Sidney during the Revolutionary War. Brant's warriors stole the clothing local settlers had on their clotheslines, and Mr. Dunbar told us of about some of the warriors donning women's bloomers. I now have over 100 artifacts from Brant's camp in my collection. But I'm rambling.)

What I find most fascinating about all of this is the evolution of the human brain. Certainly, the growth in our brain size and structure has made resulted in the evolution of our consciousness. And this has resulted in our social evolution. Yet, at the same time, those older portions of our brain, from the bulb we call the brain's stem up to the prefrontal cortex, still operates 24/7, primarily at unconscious a subconscious levels. And I think that is important for us to keep in mind.

We are all familiar with the concept of the “fight or flight response” that humans share with many other animals on earth. It surely helped us survive as a species, going back to our most ancient ancestors. However, I think it's possible to say that its value can be distinct when we think of the context of scavengers at Olduvai Gorge and scavengers carrying weapons of warfare while protesting for their “rights” at a state capital.

“Fight or flight” originates in the sympathetic nervous system, a component of the autonomic nervous system which involves our spinal cord. When stimulated, it activates the release of chemicals in our brains that allow for the individual to increase the odds for survival. And those chemicals in our brains play an important role in our emotions, including anxiety and anger.

Clearly, emotions are also tied to the operations of other parts of our brain, from the middle regions to those prefrontal lobes. That is the region where things such as memory and attention – necessary for our species to anticipate and thus plan for the future – are found. This was among the primary reasons that modern humans survived, while our close relatives the Neanderthal and Denisovan did not. (However, modern humans from Europe usually have a small trace of Neanderthal in their DNA, and Asians end to have traces of Denisovan in their DNA.Fascinating!) More, scientists are making advances in locating parts of the prefrontal lobes that do not operate particularly well in the psychopaths and sociopaths among us.

Hence, I think it is likely that the difficulties that normal people find in communicating with Trump supporters is rooted in how and where incoming information is processed in the brain. In my mind, it explains why, for example, that many of my friends who hunt and fish recognize that changes in the land, water, and air quality have brought about changes in the nature of their hunting and fishing experiences, yet at the same time are convinced that “climate change” is a hoax. I do not believe that they are stupid or bad – I know that they are not.

Now, upon the slender chance that anyone is so bored by social isolation that they have read this far, I am curious if this makes sense?

April 29, 2020

Dr. Bandy Lee interview #2

This is my second interview with Dr. Bandy Lee, the Yale forensic psychiatrist and author/ editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

(Q) In our February interview, you noted that you “have always conceived of this presidency as a reflection of the poor state of collective mental health in our society.” A significant number of my friends in the mental health profession found that to be such an important part. I immediately was reminded of Erich Fromm's 1955 “The Sane Society,” in which he said that the same conditions that create dysfunctional family systems will, when wide-spread, result in society becoming dysfunctional. Some of the psychosocial factors Fromm listed include addiction, violent crime, and suicide rates. Can you expand on those factors that result in the poor state of collective mental health in the United States?

(A) Yes, these effects are pervasive. This week, Yale Law School communicated with me through its office of public affairs asking me to misrepresent my teaching activities there so as to minimize them. After devoting 15 years of my teaching career to the School, I was shocked. But I have also witnessed it gradually siding with power interests over public interest, when it had been known for the latter for so long. I am not especially criticizing Yale Law School, but many of the luminaries who made the place so exceptional are gradually being replaced. This is a trend we have seen all over the country: power-hungry personalities, who are in fact wounded and disordered personalities, particularly seek out storied institutions and deplete them from within. Healthy societies keep them out of power positions from the start, but societies of poor health are drawn to them, as pathology attracts pathology. Soon, healthy individuals will fall away or be taken out, as we see with our own federal government. We think of psychological disorders as individual-confined, but they have no bounds; they can afflict a family, a community, an institution, or a nation. The dynamic principles we observe are the same as what we examine in individuals, and addiction, violent crime, and suicide that are probabilities in individuals translate into percentages in a population.

(Q) There was a John Hughes film in 1985, “The Breakfast Club,” that was a “teen flick” on the surface, but that also highlighted the roles children tend to play in dysfunctional families. It was a model that we used in social work, with the family hero, lost child, the scapegoat, and the clown. In the movie, the students learn to start the day at their negative potentials and transition to their positive potentials, despite the interference of the principal/ father figure.

(A) In real life, rather than “reel life,” it takes more than two hours to make those changes. The behaviors that children learn to get their needs met within a dysfunctional family rarely translate smoothly into the larger society. Currently, due to the levels of stress, fear, and anxiety, might some of the unattractive behaviors of Trump supporters be caused by their reverting to old behaviors in order to try to get their needs met?

(A) All individual ailments are ecological, and vice versa. There is certainly an astonishing level of free will within the human mind, even when one is handicapped—which is why I keep emphasizing that a person can be, and overwhelmingly is, still responsible for criminality, even if they are found to be “insane”—but we also cannot discount the profound influence of environment. When you have a population, you can almost quantify cause and effect, which will also follow like clockwork. My specialty has been to study macro-level societal factors that act on the individual psychology to produce violence, which led me to the conclusion that violence is a societal disorder. The inequality, deprivation, and propaganda to perpetuate and exacerbate unjust conditions were bound to produce a portion of the population that would manifest the larger pathology in their person, many who have become Trump supporters. This is how we understand and know the societal effects of Donald Trump, much more precisely than any individual patient, and have been able to predict his behavior as well as society’s response with great precision, almost every step of the way: the disastrous summits with North Korea and Russia, the problems of delaying impeachment, the massacre of our Kurdish allies and the assassination of an important Iranian general, and now the pandemic response…. You will find articles or petitions from us outlining how things would unfold, usually days or weeks before they happen, before any of the details are revealed. A “sick society” has a prognosis, just like sick individuals, and its behavior becomes all the more predictable with sickness.

(Q) Why do people react so differently to a threat that appears immediate, such as the corona virus, than to one that seems more distant, such as climate change? An example that comes to mind is the hostility that many in this part of rural upstate New York expressed when New York City residents ventured up to their second homes here at the beginning of this crisis. They tend to be people who support Trump's hostility towards immigrants from Central America. Large scale immigration in human history is frequently tied to climate change, which increases the risk of a violent competition for resources. Is there a psychological reason that helps explain why society waits for a potential problem to become a crisis before beginning to deal with it?

(A) Since all these issues have to do with prevention, it is a matter of education. What distinguishes our time from an early medieval era of calamities is the science and knowledge that we have accumulated and put to use, not the microbes or natural law. We have seen how, through willful ignorance and superstitious thinking, the president singlehandedly led us into a plague in this country like few other nations in modern times, and is still trying to undermine medical experts’ and others’ efforts to pull us further down. This should be a cautionary tale for climate change, as well as for mental health. Mental health is taken as a subjective non-science in this country, just because it cannot be seen, when all research evidence and clinical practice reveal it as no different from any other area of medicine. This is how we pretend it does not exist, that our president is normal, and that we do not need mental health expertise to understand what is happening—and live out all preventable consequences as if they were inevitable. This is how we have defeated ourselves in many areas, in everything from politics to civic life to yielding to a devastating pandemic. Hostility against immigrants and refugees is another psychological matter that has much to do with deflection of guilt through the blaming of victims, since most of the things they are fleeing—wars, oppressive regimes, economic exploitation, and climate change—we have caused.

(Q) Earlier this month, Donald Trump tweeted: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It's under siege!” Can this be interpreted as anything other than a call to arms, increasing the potential for violence in a tense time?

(A) It is exactly a call to arms. It is a way of diverting the frustration and anger from extreme lockdown measures and the loss of 27 million jobs, which the president knows his own negligence has caused, and redirecting them to his own ends. He is building an army for himself and testing it.

(Q) In 1952, Erich Fromm published his book, “Escape from Freedom.” He examined the differences between “freedom from” and “freedom to.” He noted that “freedom from” social conventions without “freedom to” could be abused by a “leader” intent upon destroying the stabilizing institutions of a nation. In the 1970s, while discussing this, my late friend Rubin Carter said that throughout history, tyrants have known that if they could promote hatred for a minority population, they could get the masses to forget their own low level of being, thus allowing for the destruction of those stabilizing institutions. Does this explain Trump's on-going attacks on immigrants, the FBI, the intelligence community, and the federal courts?

(A) Exactly—this is a known tactic, made more efficient when you have the emotional drive of symptoms behind it. You might notice that societies under disordered leadership always exploit problems but fail to provide improved goods, since they are incapable of it. And so the solution for the leader becomes to redirect that suffering and anger against scapegoats, usually vulnerable groups in the population that cannot fight back (“strongmen” are actually cowards). “Losers”, meanwhile, are prone to feeling contempt for lesser “losers”, as they cannot stand the reflection of themselves, and become willing persecutors. Their tendency to identify with the oppressor, or the desire to see the success of their exploiter as their own success, altogether collude to make this method of madness work.

(Q) One of the dynamics of the corona virus crisis that is curious is the toilet paper hoarding. Is this a behavior in which an individual seeks to exert some degree of control in the face of an unknown situation that is marked by anxiety about the future and a general feeling of helplessness?

(A) I think you put it very well. Obsessional behavior is usually a sign of anxiety.

(Q) As the year 2000 approached towards the end of 1999, there was also hoarding. This went beyond the right-wing, para-military survivalists, and the mega-churches seeking to hoard contributions for “the end of times.” In one of my interviews with Chief Paul Waterman of the Onondaga Nation, he taught that his people, in times of crisis, knew that “divine intervention” is found in people's sharing, especially with those who are poor and in need. My generation remembers President Johnson's “War on Poverty,” and investments in efforts for prison reform. Yet, even within the 2020 Democratic Party's primaries, only one candidate included dealing with poverty as a serious campaign issue. Why has caring about the poor gone out of style? What is the impact, for example, of self-identified Christians ignoring Jesus's teaching about the Good Samaritan upon a nation?

(A) This is a theme for a whole book, but the broad trend is for individuals or societies, when pressured or with low emotional resources, to turn inward. Our state of collective mental health certainly has all the signs of decline since the days when our aim was to lift everyone up; now, we disdain and persecute the poor. Having also done divinity studies, at the same time as medical studies, I have viewed a spiritual state—where you feel unity with the universe and charity for all—as an advanced psychological state. But religion can be used as a defense or a way of hiding opposite motives. Humans were able to perpetrate the greatest atrocities of history in the name of Christianity because it provides a good cover and assuages guilt when one can define oneself as “good” based on Christian identity alone.

(Q) Recently, a number of friends have described growing difficulties in talking with people in their lives that blindly support Trump. I try to keep in mind Malcolm X's teaching that if you want people to act differently, you must first encourage them to think differently. For example, during the House's impeachment hearings, I attempted to start by finding common ground – in that instance, respect for the Constitution. Then I would recommend they read the letters from various Founding Fathers that shed light on what they intended. The Federalist Paper #65 describes the necessity of removing someone like Trump from office. I am concerned about the growing divides in our society. What are the stumbling blocks that prevent Trump supporters from recognizing the obvious? How can rational people maintain relationships with family and friends who have “drank Trump's Kool-Aid?”

(A) I would take Malcolm X’s maxim further and say, if you want people to think differently, you must first help them to feel differently. Ideology is not what most Trump supporters are after; they are clinging to a sense of identity, belonging, and having a place in the world. As a predatory personality, Donald Trump fully exploits this need. If you can provide your loved ones with acceptance as human beings, with a place to return to if they ever abandoned their cultic programming, you would lessen his pull.

(Q) Another divide that concerns me is that between those who support Joe Biden and those who had supported Bernie Sanders. A similar divide in 2016, along with other factors, allowed Trump to claim victory in the presidential election. This November, we will need unity to defeat Trump, and possibly shift the balance of power in the Senate. What are your thoughts on this?

(A) The larger divide is fueling the smaller one. The larger divide is between pathology and health, which is why no debate or negotiation is possible, since the goal of pathology is to destroy. The relatively healthy factions are not fully healthy, either, since fragmentation alone is a sign of poor health. I see the disagreement as being between those who believe only incremental change is possible (limiting expectations) and those who believe only profound change can alter the status quo (taking risks); these are not irreconcilable differences. If we were healthier, I would recommend sweeping changes that would correct the sources of our current problems—what I learned from violence prevention programming is that changes come sooner than we think—but there is also a limitation in what people can take emotionally, after the chaos and destructive changes of the last three years, and the gravitation toward the familiar is understandable.

(Q) In April of 2001, Rubin Carter spoke at Binghamton University. A professor who was writing a book on forgiveness – in her case, attempting to forgive abusive parents – asked me if I could talk to Rubin about possibly writing a chapter for her book. In his chapter, Rubin wrote about the power of forgiveness, and how while it does not include a willingness to be victimized, it was required for the evolution of human consciousness. Do you think that is an important teaching for people to apply in this strange time?

(A) Recognition of our shared human frailty will help us to forgive one another and to achieve healing. As a health professional, my enemy is clear: pathology, not the person. Offering the president the right treatment is the best thing to do for him, no matter how he objects. Intervening so that people’s minds are no longer hijacked to serve a deficient leader is humane, too. Enabling pathology while intending to respect “both sides” causes needless suffering for all, including those who are supposedly getting their way. I have experienced too many people returning to thank me, once they were given treatment and freed their minds, as if it were the most liberating experience imaginable. So, to me, the solution is clear, and it comes out of compassion and love for our common humanity. Refusing to respond with complacency, complicity, or even active collusion with pathology helps us to forgive ourselves, not to mention pathology’s victims.

April 14, 2020

The Eternal Return

“All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

A human being recently said, “You might not like him, but Trump is your president” to me. I responded, “You are correct in that I do not like him. But you are wrong about him being 'my president.' Granted, he is 'the president,' but he is definitely not mine.” That person could not distinguish the difference between power and truth.

It's curious how some people can be intelligent in some areas, but simple enough to believe Trump is doing an “incredible” job fighting the corona virus. Why? Because “he holds press conferences daily, explaining what he's done.” Clearly, it would require a concrete example to illustrate why Trump is not “my president.” I noted that my ancestors in Ireland did not recognize a woman in England as “their queen.” He saw no connection.

There are a good many similarly disconnected people in the United States, who plan to proudly vote for Trump this November. While they are not the majority of the population – including the voting population – we do well to remember that there were enough of them to win electoral vote by a wide margin, despite the popular vote.

I do believe in the concept of one person, one vote. I accept the fact that the most ignorant, uninformed and misinformed Trump supporter's vote is equal to my own. I know that there are more of us than there are of them. There is no justifiable reason for the November presidential election to not be an overwhelming rejection of Trump and his ilk.

“In individuals, insanity is rare, but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

I had a phone call from a man who suffers from a severe and persistent mental illness. His first comment, sans greeting, was, “Cuomo Trump.” After he repeated this several times, I was able to get him to expand on this. Earlier in the day – at 3 am – he had called the local State Troopers barracks, to discuss his anxieties regarding the failure of the community to stop the corona virus. A news report that a senior housing complex a block away from his apartment had four cases upset him.

However, he told the Trooper that he was Robo-Cop, armed with a hand gun, ready to patrol the streets to insure public safety. The Trooper kept him on the line, telling him that Governor Cuomo and Donald Trump were doing everything possible to keep people safe. As they were talking, another State Trooper arrived at his door. This man did not have a gun, and so the Trooper simply talked to him, trying to reassure him that he was safe.

In our conversation, I said that I think Governor Cuomo is doing an outstanding job. I know that for decades, he has operated under the delusion that he is an under-cover sheriff's deputy, including during a few periods of incarceration in the county jail.

At the same time, I've read a number of conspiracy theories by republicans not deemed insane, who have been convinced that the current crisis was manufactured by the “deep state” to damage Trump's reputation among voters. That is, of course, no more reality-based than Robo-Cop. The difference is that they do have guns.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze too long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Thank goodness for Andrew Cuomo. I've known of him since his father served as Lt. Governor from 1979 to 1982, when Mario earned the respect and trust of the traditional Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy's leadership. As the governor of our state, Mario Cuomo was definitely one of my very favorite politicians.

I knew Andrew was very capable – the word “shrewd” comes to mind – but he was not among my favorite Democrats. Still, of course, I have always voted for him, because one does not always, or perhaps often, get the opportunity to vote for their personal choice for governor or president. Real life does not allow for that very often in general elections.

Yet today, without question, Andrew Cuomo is providing the highest level of leadership that people desperately need during this crisis. It is important to appreciate that in the most difficult of times, that ability is essential. More, Cuomo has assisted other government officials to really step up at a time when the Trump administration not only fails to be helpful, but the president is the greatest stumbling block that gets in the way of meaningful action.

I saw high lights of Trump's melt-down at yesterday's press conference. It was easy to predict that he'd have a brat attack after Governor Cuomo's two press conferences. It should be enough to make all rational people – no matter who they may have favored in the primaries – to recognize the absolute need to vote for our party's nominee in November.

Still, in a variety of settings, I've seen how bitterness has infected many people's thinking. This includes some of the supporters of both Sanders and Biden. I'm confident that everyone else has seen the ignorant and self-righteous comments of people on the internet attacking both men and their supporters. In general, this isn't a surprise after a hard-fought primary. But it needs to stop.

Yesterday, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders made it clear that they are united in purpose. Both men recognize that it both essential and urgent that people at the grass roots join together. We are confronted with dual crises right now – the corona virus and Donald Trump. You aren't too pure to vote for Biden, and you are a damned fool if you think Biden can win without Sanders's supporters. Do your part in arresting the spread of such dangerous infections.

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