Donald Trump clearly has been reckless in his recent behavior, which has included his closing down of our government and his impulsive decisions to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, provoking the resignation of General James Mattis as secretary of defense. Many have noted Trump’s rejection of all normal procedure and his increasing isolation. We would argue that both are expressions of his psychological inability to collaborate with others or receive their counsel in relation to sustained policies and principles. This is so because Trump’s reality is completely solipsistic, that is, self-contained, unrelated to truth or evidence. Nothing could be more dangerous in a head of state, and there is every reason to believe that his psychological condition will continue to deteriorate under the stress of criticism, crisis, and investigation.
Unfortunately, our constitutional arrangements for removing presidents from office focus more on acute medical or mental breakdown than on this kind of manifest unfitness. Yet it remains the responsibility of our elected political leaders to find a means of ending the Trump presidency and protecting our country and the world from the profound threat he represents.
Lifton, a psychiatrist, is a lecturer at Columbia University, and Herman is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.