Donald Trump is unfit to hold the office of President of the United States. A new video presents an eye-opening analysis of his behavior, psyche, and instability
By Beth Accomando | KPBS
“#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump” just became available on demand. The new documentary wants audiences to consider the mental health of President Trump before they mark their ballots in the November election.
The website for the film states: “#UNFIT is NOT politically motivated; it does not advocate for policy issues or take a stance on matters of state. The film is also NOT intended to offer a formal diagnosis nor recommend treatment. This film speaks only to the collective welfare of Americans, and the world. It is rooted in science, and espoused by experts that include doctors whose sole motivation is their Duty to Warn.”
That’s not the typical kind of publicity notes that critics are used to finding but it reveals the passionate motivation behind the film and the urgency that the filmmakers feel.
Duty to Warn is an association of mental health professionals and other concerned citizens who advocate for President Trump’s removal from office under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he’s psychologically unfit. They present their case in Dan Partland’s documentary “#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump.” The film assesses Trump as suffering from a condition known as malignant narcissism, which consists of narcissism, paranoia, anti-social personality disorder and sadism.
Justin Frank, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, states the film’s case clearly and succinctly: “Is Donald Trump fit to serve as the president and commander in chief? I can answer that with one word. No.”
Part of the film is dedicated to considering how dangerous it is to have someone like Trump with his finger on the nuclear button, but that is only part of the danger. Psychologist John Gartner offers this: “The natural tendency of history in many ways is toward greater liberalism and altruism. But human nature has these competing forces. And so what we’re seeing now is this amazing regression, right, from where we were. We are literally going backwards, I think a century or two. We all have to do everything that we can do because our society is at risk and we could lose it all. We all have to do everything that we can do because our society is at risk and we could lose it all. We could lose this grand experiment in democracy, I think we’re more than halfway there.”
That’s a dire warning and one the film backs up by interviewing not just psychologists but also historians, politicians, former Trump staffers and others. People such as ex-Naval intelligence figure Malcolm Nance; attorney George Conway (spouse of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway); former staffer Anthony Scaramucci; sportswriter Rick Reilly (who suggests that if Trump lies and cheats in golf why wouldn’t those traits extend to the Oval office); and specialists on authoritarianism and history such as Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Ph.D., who wrote “Fascist Modernities: Italy 1922-1945.”
The film is a brisk 83 minutes but packed with interviews, news footage, film and pop culture references and animation that is decidedly unflattering to Trump. The film tries to place all of what is happening right now in a larger context to try to convey the dangers it sees.
Part of that larger context is outlined by Nance who says, “The founding fathers always knew that a king-like tyrant would try to rule as a personal dictator and use the powers of the presidency to enhance or enrich himself, but they never foresaw the Senate and the judiciary might completely abdicate their responsibilities and go along with that.”
So it is not simply that Trump is unfit for office but that the checks and balances we thought would protect us from people like Trump failed.
One interesting side point that the entertaining Scaramucci raises is about how labeling Trump supporters as “deplorables” ignored why that voting base was supporting Trump.
“So people feel that the system is rigged and the system is unfair toward them,” Scaramucci says in the film, “You call these people deplorable, white, ethnocentric white nationalists, whatever those like knuckle-dragging misnomers, those adjectives of attack on these people, they tune you out. You’d be better served going into those areas of the country and listening to them and saying, ‘hey, you know what, I don’t think you’re a racist or you’re a white trash person. I think you’re a person that really just wants your family to have a better life. And as a public servant, I’m going to try to come up with policies that help you do that.'”
That helps gives context to how Trump was able to win support and ultimately win the election if not the popular vote. Then Ben-Ghiat puts “alt-facts” and “fake news” into the context of gaslighting in which someone lies to make someone else doubt their sense of reality. The film explains how the term came from Patrick Hamilton’s play “Gaslight” and the subsequent movie adaptations in which a husband tries to drive his wife insane by making her doubt her own memory and perceptions (the documentary uses clips from the less famous 1940 film version with Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard rather than the 1944 one with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman).
The film builds a compelling case for Trump being unfit for office. But the problem is that no matter how much information it presents, no matter how many examples it cites from Trump’s own words and actions, it ultimately may only preach to the converted. So it may not be reach viewers whose minds it wants to change. But to those willing to listen, it offers a terrifying warning.
The Duty to Warn website includes a page of articles adding further support to its argument as well as legislative action that works toward mitigating and addressing the clear danger it sees posed by Trump.