Sometimes I want to clear my mind for meditation and an idea pops up that insists on being dealt with. Sunday and Monday it was "forgiveness." If someone-- say Señor Trumpanzee-- acknowledges his misdeeds and repents and asks for forgiveness, you (as an individual) kind of have to at least consider giving him forgiveness for your own sake. But what if someone-- say the actual Señor Trumpanzee-- neither acknowledges his misdeeds nor repents and will never ask for forgiveness? Society has to do what society does. But what about us as individuals? This kind of forgiveness is about us, not the perp. A couple of Bible verses:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
Notice how Luke's, to some extent at least, differs from the other verses. He has made forgiveness somewhat conditional on repentance. The other verses don't; they are absolute. The Mayo Clinic talks about forgiveness in terms of the forgiver and how it impacts the forgiver's own health. They urge patients not to hold onto anger and resentment-- let alone thoughts of revenge-- and to embrace forgiveness and move on. "By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being." They listed 8 benefits of forgiveness:
Improved mental health
Less anxiety, stress and hostility
Lower blood pressure
Fewer symptoms of depression
A stronger immune system
Improved heart health
And 5 effects of holding a grudge. If you're unforgiving, you might:
Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience.
Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present.
Become depressed or anxious.
Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs.
Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
So, what about Trump? He sure ain't asking for anyone's forgiveness. He's been a curse on earth since he was very young. Tangent time; bear with me. Harvey Wasserman offered me an excellent piece he had written, In Cold Blood, "Pro-Life" Amy Barrett Helps Murder Brandon Bernard While Weeping for the Unborn. His point was that "while weeping for the unborn, America’s “Pro-Life” movement and its very own Supreme seem to have no problem murdering federal prisoners in cold blood." This was my response:
I don't like running stories about the death penalty. First of all, I'm a big proponent of the death penalty. (I once won a scholarship arguing in favor of it.) I don't think our Justice system is fit to inflict it so I think it should be on hold until racism and pro-rich bias is stamped out. But I would like nothing more than to see 100 guillotines erected on the National Mall and watch each one rapidly behead 10 Republicans, starting with Trump, McConnell and other enemies of the country.
Even if individuals are better off being generous with forgiveness, society cannot be. Bandy X Lee and James Merikangas are both distinguished physicians and academics. We've covered Lee a lot here but Merikangas, who co-wrote The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump with her and we haven't talked about him. He's a forensic neuropsychiatrist, co-founder of the American Neuropsychiatric Association and former president of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists. The two of them wrote a post for DCReport yesterday, Why Biden Needs To Throw The Book At Trump: Healing Cannot-- And Should Not-- Occur Without Prosecution. They're not buying into the DC political correctness pushed by the political class to protect their own worthless hides. They see what Biden-- a crook himself with a family of crooks-- is up to and they urge him, for the sake of the country, to go after Trump.
"Pathological personalities," they wrote, "do not respond well to conciliatory gestures, as this may be experienced as coddling, indulging, and giving license to further transgressions. This has been seen with Donald Trump and his cronies, who have used others’ allowance to expand a subculture of violence and abuse. Instead, what gains respect with these personalities are firm boundaries and limit setting, despite their protest. Additionally, we should show enough respect to hold our fellow human beings accountable to a higher standard even if-- and especially if-- they cannot do so themselves. As psychiatrists who have a duty to the public’s health, we must also point out that not to collect on the president’s debts and not to compensate the workers he has failed to pay by shifting funds to his family or declaring bankruptcy, would legitimize abuse of the law and be harmful to society. Not to prosecute for human rights abuses at the southern border or for the assassination of an Iranian general, which could yet plunge the nation into a devastating war, would further encourage a culture of lawlessness. As part of the healing process, Congress should enact or strengthen appropriate legislation."
As forensic psychiatrists, it is not difficult for us to say that an insanity defense for President Trump does not pass the smell test, and failure to prosecute crimes for which the evidence is clear would undermine the very foundation of our justice system. In fact, we are of the opinion that healing cannot-- and should not-- occur without prosecution.
Bringing a high-profile criminal to justice can actually be healing for our collective mental health. After four years of “alternative” realities toppling our sense of right and wrong, health and pathology, almost half of the nation finds refuge in his cult of supremacy and anger, while the other half is traumatized. Prosecution and clear boundaries can help bring reality back to both parties that have been gaslit into believing untruths, usually at the expense of their interests, their livelihoods, and even their lives.
Firm boundaries are necessary because tolerating intolerance, paradoxically, leads to intolerance and persecution. Likewise, blurring the distinction between health and pathology leads to pathology’s flourishing at the expense of health. As psychiatrists, not politicians, we have an obligation to provide an antidote to delusional thinking and violent behavior, even if the propaganda systems pervading mass media and the Internet will not. The remedy for psychosis is reality checks. In the case of a pathological and criminal president, recommending prosecution is an essential part of setting standards and doing our job as healers.