Follow-Up Invitation to a Dialogue, for Mr. Alan Dershowitz

Dear Mr. Dershowitz:

Now that the Senate trial is over, and you have shown no trouble traveling when you put your mind to it, I look forward to your coming to Yale for a dialogue. We have important matters to discuss, especially with regard to an issue that has critical relevance to the future of our country — not to mention that you tried to jeopardize my career by complaining to Yale, your own (as well as my) alma mater.

So far, you have validated my thesis that the psychological, ideological, and emotionally-driven belief systems that a powerful person holds can be transmitted to those who are emotionally committed to that person. These typically are fixed beliefs that are, under reasonable conditions, deemed to be false, as they are resistant to facts and accepted scholarship, the consensus of peers (such as more than 500 credible Constitutional scholars), and precedent (such as 244 years of history). When someone is in the grips of these belief systems as a function of delusion, one is not capable of recognizing on one’s own that it is a false belief, but there are ways of testing it clinically through standardized measures.

You yourself have complained that I “diagnosed” you without meeting with you. The truth is, I refrain from diagnosing people without interviewing them, even though current science deems a personal interview as not always necessary, because I value interviews very much. I specialize in the very disorders that cause the interviewee to mislead the usual interviewer, and therefore there is lower risk that an interview will actually harm an assessment in my case. I also work in forensic psychiatry, which has built within it systems for detecting manipulation or false presentation of symptoms.

I imagine you would also be eager to prove that your “a president can do anything as long as he believes it is for the public good” doctrine is valid, despite seeming identical to one of Donald Trump’s delusions (in the latter’s case, I have noted that these are not likely just strategy, as seen from the public health effects on the population; true delusions are far more effective at spreading among followers than strategic messaging, since the purveyor truly believes them!). I am eager to learn that this is not the case, as well, since a society can be hijacked en masse by symptoms in a leader, all the more if the symptoms are severe and go untreated.

Since our president is likely someone capable of igniting a world war in order not to leave office, now that he has had the taste of power, it is particularly important that the legal justification you have given him be legitimate. Mental capacity, or rationality, is a prerequisite to a belief system being valid, and we have already deemed the president’s mental capacity to stand trial to be questionable. In fact, we assessed earlier that the president does not even possess the mental capacity to discharge the duties of his office! If the president lacks capacity, it is possible in the context of shared symptoms that his close supporters, including his defense team, also lack the capacity to argue in trial.

Hence, let us have a discussion. Please propose a date within the next two weeks, although I remain flexible so as to maximize the possibility. Also, please make it a dialogue, not a war path — in other words, please do not respond vengefully — for this would only confirm that the president’s methods have indeed transmitted to you, and further corroborate the urgent need I felt to speak up.

Cordially yours,

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

Update (2/4/2020): To date, Mr. Dershowitz has not responded to my invitation, despite his habit of responding within minutes, in a manner similar to the president, who exhibits poor impulse control. This reduces credibility to his claim that he desired a “dialogue” over being “diagnosed” and confirms his disinterest in engaging in anyone who disagrees with him. He appears to wish strongly to remain in his conclusion that I “diagnosed” him for “defending constitutional rights” (the desire not to have one’s true motives exposed, and the drive to create an alternative reality in order to hold onto one’s cherished beliefs, additionally points to a shared psychology with the president).

A Note to Mr. Dershowitz: You are correct in that a personal interaction is highly informative to a psychiatrist, who uses oneself as an instrument of measurement. I concede that I have learned a vast amount through your dealings with me, including your selective withdrawals, and that my initial hypothesis about you has now been immensely better confirmed. I would be happy to share with you my conclusions at any time you choose. In congruence with your sensitivity to the needs of a psychiatric assessment, may I propose, then, that we follow your argument in the president’s defense: that it was wrong to “psychoanalyze the president and attribute to him a singular self-serving motive…. Such a subjective probing of motives cannot be the legal basis for … the removal of an elected president.” I assume you meant non-standardized measurements and not all psychological assessments, since you yourself claimed that impeachment requires criminal-“like” behavior, and “criminal” behavior by definition requires mens rea (guilty mind) — a non-subjective, standardized evaluation that is routinely performed for criminal cases. Then we are in agreement! You also said that a president can be exonerated even of actus reus (guilty action) if he believes it was in the public interest. We are in agreement again: we both believe in the need for a rigorous psychiatric evaluation of the president! So let us go for it!!

Written by

Forensic psychiatrist, violence expert, president of the World Mental Health Coalition (worldmhc.org), and editor of "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

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