On the day before the House of Representatives voted to impeach him, Donald Trump fired off a seven-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was described by some political pundits as “deranged,” “unhinged,” and “insane.” Once a group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals had a chance to read the letter two days later, they reached similar conclusions about Trump’s psychological condition.
The letter itself provided “a treasure trove” for students who want study the working of a “psychotic mind,” former George Washington University psychiatry professor Justin Frank said in a statement to the online magazine Salon, which interviewed several mental health professionals, all of whom offered their interpretations of the Trump letter.
Another of the mental health professionals, John Gartner, told Salon that he viewed Trump’s letter as “unhinged, paranoid and manic.”
In the letter, Trump accuses Pelosi of “declaring open war on American Democracy” and of attempting to “overturn” the results of the 2016 election. He also makes what one journalist interpreted as a thinly veiled threat to begin prosecutions of his political and personal enemies.
Trump told Pelosi that the impeachment against him was equivalent to “the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power.”
But according to psychiatrist David Reiss, in his statement to Salon, the letter revealed the “immaturity” that Trump has exhibited throughout his adult life. Trump reveals himself in the missive as “a frustrated or emotionally hurt toddler” who is desperate for a parent to make “the bad people go away.”
Retired Harvard University psychiatrist Lance Dodes told Salon that in the letter, Trump reveals an extreme, “primitive” focus on himself and complete inability to “recognize other people as separate from him or having worth,” a view also reflected by Northwestern University psychology professor Dan McAdams.
McAdams said that the letter showed that Trump is “obsessively focused on the self and nothing else.” Other than its seven-page length, the letter to Pelosi is largely indistinguishable from the “vitriolic, grievance-filled tweets he sends out every day,” the Northwestern professor commented.
But in an essay for CNN, Democratic political consultant Paul Begala — who served as chief strategist for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign — saw the letter not in psychological terms, but political ones. Begala rejected the characterization of Trump’s behavior as “deranged,” saying instead that it was “tyrannical.”
“His letter is not sick,” Begala wrote. “It is evil.”
Invoking the classic George Orwell novel 1984, in which an autocratic leadership controls truth itself by forcing citizens to believe that “two and two made five,” Begala said that Trump created his own version of “2+2=5” when he claimed that his July 25 phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky — in which Trump attempted to pressure the Ukraine leader into a political “favor” — was “perfect.”
Trump’s letter to Pelosi may be read online, via WhiteHouse.gov.