Letter to Congress | Archive

January 3, 2018 | Letter to Congress

Statement on Trump by the National Coalition of Concerned Mental Health Experts

January 3, 2018

We write as mental health professionals who have been deeply concerned about Donald Trump’s psychological aberrations. We believe that he is now further unraveling in ways that contribute to his belligerent nuclear threats. We are aware that statements coming from North Korea contribute greatly to the problem, but our concern is with the behavior of our own President. We urge that those around him, and our elected representatives in general, take urgent steps to restrain his behavior and head off the potential nuclear catastrophe that endangers not only Korea and the United States but all of humankind.

Bandy X. Lee, M.D., M.Div.

Judith L. Herman, M.D.

Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.

+322 Additional Co-Signatories

December Letter To Congress

December 11, 2017

Dear Congress Member:

Since the election of 2016, an increasing number of mental health professionals have come forth to warn against President Trump’s psychological instability and its implications for national and international security.  Recently, the signs of his instability have grown markedly worse: a return to conspiracy theories, more frequent tweets, and an attraction to violent imagery.  We would like to discuss these concerns further with you, at the contacts below.

Seven months ago, a group of us put our concerns into a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.  Since release, it has become an instant bestseller with the public.  Macmillan, a top publisher, could not keep up with the demand for weeks.  Much of what we warned about in the book has come true.  Our ultimate concern is happening now.

The developments with the special counsel’s investigations are not just a matter of criminal indictment but of critical concern with respect to the president’s mental stability.  He has shown marked signs of impairment and psychological disability under ordinary circumstances, unable to cope with the slightest criticism or unpleasant news.  With additional stressors, his condition will assuredly grow worse.  We fear that this difference will bring us over the brink into disaster, where even ultimate destruction will be possible.

As mental health professionals, some of us with expertise on violence, we deal with the risk of harm as a routine part of our practice.  When someone exhibits signs of danger to oneself, others, or the general public, it is considered an emergency.  All 50 states confer to us the legal authority, sometimes obligation, to act.  When someone poses a threat, our response is as follows: (a) containment; (b) removal from access to weapons; and (c) an urgent evaluation.  As health professionals, we cannot choose not to treat in an emergency, regardless of whether the person is our patient or has offered consent.

Mr. Trump has far exceeded our usual threshold for detaining someone in order to evaluate for signs of danger.  Just a few of these signs would be: verbal threats of violence, a history of sexual assault, incitement of violence, an attraction to violence and powerful weapons (the more powerful the weapons, the greater the temptation to use them), and the taunting of hostile nations with nuclear power.  Traits that are highly associated with danger include: impulsivity, recklessness, paranoia, loss of touch with reality, a lack of empathy, rage reactions, and a constant need to demonstrate power.  These traits make one incapable of thinking rationally, and the usual inhibitions, such as a nuclear holocaust or even the annihilation of humankind, will not likely deter someone who is preoccupied by internal needs.

A number of us are concerned enough to be ready to present to your office, at the soonest occasion possible, to explain our observations in person.  While mental health experts who contributed to the book number at 27, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of the same medical consensus—and we are ready to communicate our case to you, should you choose to hear us.

Our contacts are: (917) 328-2492; bandy.lee@yale.edu; and dangerouscase.org.

Sincerely,

November Letter To Congress

Dear Congress Member:

Since the election of 2016, an increasing number of mental health professionals have come forth to warn against President Trump’s psychological instability and its implications for national and international security. Over time, the signs of his instability have only grown worse: we have watched as Mr. Trump’s provocation of North Korea and alienation of our allies have augmented the dangers we face abroad, while his incitements and endorsements of aggression have laid down the groundwork for a culture of violence at home.

Six months ago, a group of us put our concerns into a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Since release, it has become an instant bestseller with the public. Macmillan, a top publisher, could not keep up with the demand for weeks. Everything we have warned about in the book has come true. Our ultimate concern is happening now.

The developments with the special counsel’s investigations are not just a matter of criminal indictment but of critical concern with respect to the president’s mental stability. He has shown marked signs of impairment and psychological disability under ordinary circumstances, unable to cope with the slightest criticism or unpleasant news. With additional stressors, his condition will assuredly grow worse. We fear that this difference will bring us over the brink into disaster, where even ultimate annihilation will be possible.

As mental health professionals, some of us with expertise on violence, we deal with risk of harm as a routine part of our practice. When someone exhibits signs of danger to themselves, others, or the general public, it is considered an emergency. All 50 states confer to us the legal authority, sometimes obligation, to act. When someone poses a threat, our response is as follows: (a) containment; (b) removal from access to weapons; and (c) an urgent evaluation. As health professionals, we cannot choose not to treat in an emergency, regardless of whether the person is our patient or has offered consent.

Mr. Trump has far exceeded our usual threshold for detaining someone in order to evaluate for signs of danger. Just a few of these signs would be: verbal threats of violence, a history of sexual assault, incitement of violence, an attraction to violence and powerful weapons (the more powerful the weapons, the greater the temptation to use them), and the taunting of hostile nations with nuclear power. Traits that are highly associated with danger include: impulsivity, recklessness, paranoia (perceiving threats where they do not exist), loss of touch with reality (real consequences matter little), a lack of empathy (devastation to other people will not deter), feelings of worthlessness (for which violence can feel like a quick antidote), rage reactions, and a constant need to demonstrate power (a destructive war or use of weapons can counter an intolerable inner sense of weakness). These traits make one incapable of thinking rationally, and the usual deterrents, such as a nuclear holocaust or even the annihilation of humankind, will not likely deter someone who is preoccupied by internal needs.

We are concerned enough to be ready to present to your office, at the soonest occasion possible, to explain our professional observations in person. While those who contributed to the book number at 27, there are hundreds of us, if not thousands, of the same medical consensus—and we are ready to communicate our case to you, should you choose to hear us.

July 25, 2018 | Letter to Congress

Follow-Up Warning from the Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential Dangerousness

July 25, 2018

Dear Congress Member:

A group of top psychiatrists in the country, who have formed an Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential Dangerousness, faxed a letter to all members of Congress, on July 9, 2018, warning against the apparent lack of decisional capacity that President Donald Trump has exhibited. Because of his unchecked proximity to nuclear weapons and because of the geopolitical consequences of his decisions, we considered it an emergency warning which, under ordinary medical standards, would have warranted an urgent evaluation.

No doubt you will agree that the threat to national and international security has since increased. The U.S. President has:

  • Held a secret meeting with the leader of a nation that has attacked us
  • Refused to share the contents and agreements of that meeting
  • Sided publicly with the nation that has attacked us against his own intelligence agencies
  • Invited the instigator of those attacks to our nation’s capital
  • Made us (and other nations) more vulnerable to future attacks
  • Alienated our key protective allies against the instigator of these attacks
  • Dealt with North Korea in ways that have increased uncertainty for global security

As long as public health and safety are implicated, we must consider it a medical issue and within the domain of our professional responsibility. Public health has already been affected adversely under this administration, according to multiple objective measures.

In our letter from two weeks ago, we highlighted:

  • That the President has shown clear signs of lack of decisional capacity
  • That, despite his momentous position, he has never received a valid examination of these signs
  • That the current situation, with the signs that he exhibits, should preclude his partaking in any more consequential decisions.

Our assessment still holds, with even greater urgency, and we urge you once again to check his actions—especially the ultimate possibility of launching nuclear weapons or declaring a war—until the time that he could be cleared for mental capacity.

Sincerely,

Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential Dangerousness Because of Mental Instability

(Member names omitted on web version)

July 9, 2018 | Letter to Congress

Warning from the Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential Dangerousness Because of Mental Instability

July 9, 2018

Dear Congress Member:

We write to you as mental health professionals who are deeply concerned about the mental state of President Donald Trump, which we believe presents a clear and present danger to the nation and the world. We say so because of his compromised mental state and his unchecked proximity to weapons of mass destruction, as well as other powers at his disposal.

Early in his presidency we put our concerns into the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. So far, all our predictions have borne out to be true. Furthermore, our clinical experience tells us that such conditions generally continue to worsen.

We state our concerns to you not as partisans or out of political interest, but as professionals who have an obligation to society to share our knowledge of medical matters. We have taken a pledge to protect lives and to place humanitarian goals first. From our professional perspective, the president has not demonstrated that he has the mental capacity to perform the duties of his office. On the contrary, he has continuously and persistently shown signs that he lacks decisional capacity.

For example, he proceeded to attend a summit with North Korea unprepared and unaware of his deficiencies. Earlier in the year, after a series of unpleasant news, he decided without consultation to launch a trade war.

When the president repeatedly states falsehoods that contradict not only facts but his own words, he is jeopardizing public health and the security of the globe. Whether he is divorced from reality or simply lies with impunity, either case indicates psychopathology. When he shows an attraction to violence and a readiness to attack, he is endangering those he is in office to protect. This drive, we believe, is behind his championing the cruel separation of children from their families, as well as his repetitive sparring with an unstable nuclear power, including during the lead-up to a peace summit. Now he is about to appoint a Supreme Court justice and meet with the leader of an enemy nation who attacked our 2016 elections. These are all consequential decisions.

The president has never received a valid exam: the mental health “evaluation” he had in January was faulty, and the doctor who administered it was disqualified, while the exam was not re-done. Until he undergoes proper examination, we cannot be sure that Trump has the capacity to make sound, logical decisions while weighing real consequences to real people, or even that he perceives a reality apart from his own thoughts, emotions, and needs. The current situation, with the signs that he exhibits, should preclude his partaking in any more consequential decisions.

In our ordinary practice, we attempt to contain individuals who show signs of danger, using the least restrictive measures. The president, however, has rather removed existing personnel and checks around him that would set even minimal limits. He has also shown a persistent disregard for and violation of norms and laws. These are signs of greater danger, not less.

In sum, Mr. Trump needs an urgent, independent evaluation first of his mental capacity, to ensure that he is fit to serve in his office, and secondly of his neuropsychiatric status, to yield any diagnoses and the proper course of treatment. Until then, he should not proceed with further substantive decision-making, until he can be cleared. If he does not agree to an evaluation voluntarily, we turn to you as protectors of the nation’s citizenry.

Sincerely,

Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential Dangerousness Because of Mental Instability

(Member names omitted on web version)