A psychiatrist who co-authored a book expressing fears about the psychological state of Donald Trump has warned that people in the U.S. will die because of the the way the president is handling the coronavirus.
Lance Dodes, an ex-assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, was a contributor to the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, and has frequently sounded the alarm over the state of the president’s mental health.
Although medical experts warn that coronavirus will spread in the U.S. and the World Health Organization says it has “pandemic potential,” Trump has pushed an upbeat message, telling those at a reception in the White House Cabinet room on Thursday: “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” CNN reported.
But Dodes says that the manner in which the president is dealing with coronavirus, by focusing on its impact on the stock market, and contradicting public health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), could have fatal consequences.
In a segment on MSNBC in which a clip is played of Trump telling a news conference that the stock market “will recover,” Dodes said: “This man is about himself, he really is not about the country, he is not about public health.
“I think people’s lives will be lost now, individual lives, will be lost, because of the way he is mishandling the coronavirus issue.”
Referring to the news conference, Dodes went on: “About a dozen times, he said what a wonderful job he has done. It is hard to imagine any other president in the United States’ history, when addressing the country during a public health crisis, talking about what a wonderful job he personally has done but this is where he is at, this is what he cares about.
“He cares about the stock market also because it reflects on him and his candidacy…it tells you where his mind is at, his mind is on him.”
Dodes believes that Trump uses the “big lie technique” in which he repeats what he wants people to hear and that through the “act of repeating it, makes people think it must be true.”
Dodes told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell: “I think that explains why people can watch this…watch him lie about things and say: ‘He must be doing the right thing, he must be looking after us’; that’s why he is a successful con man.
“What has to happen, if we are all going to survive is that this reaches a tipping point and eventually the fact the emperor has no clothes is revealed.
“Then everyone will understand that he has been lying all along—we haven’t reached that point yet unfortunately.
“The more things go badly for him, the more paranoid he becomes, the more out of touch with reality, and the more bad decisions he’s going to make, the more desperate he’s going to be to hold on to what he needs in his power,” said Dodes.
Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.
There is an ethical dimension over whether to make public pronouncements on the president’s mental health, with the psychiatric establishment’s so-called “Goldwater rule” stating professionals should not opine on those they have not examined.
Facing scrutiny over how his administration is handling coronavirus, Trump has charged Vice President Mike Pence with overseeing the U.S. response, which has been criticized.
Former health policy adviser in the Obama administration, Ezekiel Emanuel told MSNBC that Trump’s remarks about his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is a “little incoherent.”
“You know, [Trump’s] a guy that admitted that he’s surprised that 25,000 to 69,000 people each year die of the flu. That just tells you how little he actually knows about public health and about the health of the American public,” he told Hardball.
The Trump administration has requested $2.5 billion in emergency funding from Congress, although Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says that $8.5 billion should be earmarked to deal with the crisis, The Hill reported.
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