“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know
…nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need.” Pema Chödrön
There are some serious mental health issues that we’ve been ignoring.
I’m not talking about depression or anxiety or even suicide. Compared to this, those issues have been destigmatized.
It tried to surface in Toronto when we elected Rob Ford. But then his drug addiction took over and became the easy out. We took it.
When Ford became international news, we were embarrassed.
Holy shit, how could we have been fooled by a guy who can’t keep it together under pressure?
There were several incidents before he was elected mayor, including:
calling a fellow councillor a ‘Gino-boy’ then denying it
voting against funds for AIDS prevention because “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line…those are the facts.”
bike-shaming cyclists who were killed by vehicles, “My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”
His expressed beliefs were ignorant and arrogant. Sound familiar?
In fact, in a recent interview with National Post, Ford’s brother and manager said, “Donald Trump is borrowing from us. Rob blazed a new trail for politicians like that. People are tired in North America of the BS-ing politician.”
He did blaze a new trail.
When he was granted the power of being city mayor, things exploded. And eventually, every inexplicable behaviour was blamed on drug use.
He yelled at citizens, threatened people, pushed his way through scrummages with his face, and passionately defended every action.
Ford accepted an invitation to be a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Ford saw ridicule of his infamy as his big fifteen minutes.
This overt behaviour is typical of certain personality disorders.
Either nobody recognized the symptoms based on his behaviour, or, more likely, nobody wanted Ford to be a poster boy for that group of mental illnesses.
There’s plenty of material out there now about personality disorders. Especially Borderline.
But it’s taboo to talk about.
Public figures who catch the public’s eye with obvious signs of a personality disorder are those who are generally undiagnosed or unable to admit they need treatment.
This makes those who have been diagnosed nervous. Because not everyone with a personality disorder is the same, but in our society we lump people into groups.
Personality disorders, which include borderline, antisocial, dependant and narcissistic disorders, have an even bigger barrier to break through. Because there has been varied results in treatment. And many go undiagnosed for years.
If Ford’s actions put him in the low functioning category, meaning that he acts out under high-stress situations, then Trump actions put him in the high functioning category.
Trump has successfully run his businesses for decades, building up a fortune. Been put in several high-stress situations without becoming reactive in a self-destructive way.
He has shown a capacity to create a plan of attack and stick with it. Not succumbing to pressure by breaking down into solely reactive, self-destructive behaviour.
This high functioning category is the dread of everyone who wants to talk about personality disorders.
This group has been outted as manipulative by the medical community. By the research. By those living with loved ones who suffer with these disorders.
That’s the real stigma. Nobody wants to be seen as being associated with a disorder which is known for manipulative behaviour. So everyone stays quiet.
But it’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Especially the dynamics that typically play out between certain groups of the personality disorders.
Just one example: it’s typical of a high functioning antisocial personality to manipulate and control those who struggle with low functioning and high functioning dependant and some borderline personality disorders.
So, to out yourself as either is to stand up and say to people: hey, I’m manipulative or susceptible to manipulation.
See the dilemma?
But now we face the possibility of electing Trump as leader of a country with power.
I don’t think he’s going to go nuclear or anything. He’s a business man. Who will do anything to win. Because he doesn’t go in things to lose.
Things are getting violent at his rallies. Trump has encouraged violence. And some are using the crowds as an excuse to anonymously release pent up aggression.
It’s time to start an open conversation about personality disorders. We need to face and break down the fear.
I don’t wish my observations to be used to bash Trump. I don’t think bashing him will do anything but escalate the issue.
I don’t even think that labelling him as having a personality disorder will pave the way to peace.
But I believe the more we discuss personality disorders, the basic symptoms/behaviours, and the struggle between those who are susceptible to manipulation and those who have no ethical objections to manipulating, the more capable we will be as a society to protect ourselves from all types of control and manipulation.
A list of symptoms for all personality disorders.
Here is a very small list of additional resources:
(Photo: Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted)