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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

On Donald Trump, Editors, and The Psychological Judgment of Politicians from Afar

It has long been accepted that it is improper for a mental health clinician to publicly express a judgment about a politician unless they examined them and had their consent to do so. Still, this disgraceful behavior is common.

And one must be especially careful when speaking with reporters though with some this doesn’t matter. Years ago, after Bush 1 lost the election, I was asked by a reporter how it would affect him. I responded that politicians are not “normal” people, that what would shatter an ordinary person would be accepted equably by a politician. The reporter quoted me, but then added his own twist about the trauma of loss and depth of ensuing depression. Wherever he had obtained these facts, he made it seem that the words were mine. I complained to the newspaper in a letter that they published.

Only one certain conclusion can be made about any politician: that they are not “normal.” No “normal” person would choose to endure the agony associated with gaining political office. But the same could be said of artists, who follow their “creative addiction,” or those of other professions where the probability of success is low except in personal terms.

And regarding the current presidential campaign: Do Mr. Trump’s “controversial” statements differ from what many have insisted for decades: that laws should be enforced; that treaty obligations (NATO and WTO) must be followed by signatories; that “political correctness” has crippled public discourse and education; and that terror must be better explained and battled.

On a personal note, I never learned who edited my first book. The publisher, the late Pat Knopf, had hired someone or might have edited it himself. In looking over the suggested manuscript changes, I learned my most important lessons as a writer: that words are powerful, and to remove extraneous words for every word must count.

My unasked for suggestion to Donald Trump: You need a better editor.
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