Sharp documentary ‘#Unfit’ makes a case that Donald Trump suffers multiple mental disorders
The illuminating film, more personal than political, argues that psychiatrists have a duty to speak out on the president’s more disturbing behavior
We can’t help ourselves. No matter where we sit on the political and social spectrum, we can’t resist the urge to share certain articles or tweets or newscast footage with our friends on the other side of the fence, with a note attached saying something like, “If THIS doesn’t change your mind, nothing will!”
Spoiler alert: 99 times out of 100, nothing will.
I’m sure some viewers of the sharp and cohesive and illuminating documentary “#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump” will try to persuade their MAGA friends or associates to watch a film that makes a strong case President Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist plagued by narcissistic personality disorder, deep and rampant paranoia, decades of sadistic tendencies, and anti-social behavior. I’m not so sure any pro-Trumper who watches the film will actually have a change of heart about their man. Some might even sit through all the arguments and watch the presentations making the case Trump is unfit and react by saying: And that’s exactly why you’re all so scared of him and he’s the greatest president of all time!
Dark Star Pictures presents a documentary directed by Dan Partland. No MPAA rating. Running time: 83 minutes. Available Friday to Chicago area viewers at www.laemmle.com, then Tuesday on demand.
Nevertheless. We are recommending “#Unfit” not for any political reason — in fact, the film is not about Trump’s policies, but about his personality — but because it offers some valuable insights into Trump’s behavior, and offers a compelling counterargument to some widely accepted notions about whether or not psychiatrists should even be allowed to comment on the mental health of individuals they have not personally treated.
You may have heard of “The Goldwater Rule,” which is often invoked by those arguing it is irresponsible and unethical for mental health professionals to comment on Trump’s behavior because he’s not their patient. And indeed, it was a dark chapter in the history of psychiatric community in 1964 when the now defunct Fact magazine published a poll of more than 1,000 psychiatrists, with the consensus being Senator Barry Goldwater was unfit to be president. Goldwater sued and received damages, and rightfully so, as the findings were based on wild speculation not commonplace in the analytical community today.
But the experts interviewed in “#Unfit” argue the Goldwater Rule was never intended to be a universal gag order and claim that according to the Tarasoff Rule, which states psychiatrists have a duty to step forward and speak when they believe someone is exhibiting harmful and alarming behavior, they would be derelict in their professional duties if they DIDN’T comment on Trump’s observable behavior.
“The psychiatric interview is the least reliable method of making a diagnosis,” says the psychologist John Gartner, Ph.D. “The ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ is based on observable behavioral criteria. … When you meet with someone, they can lie to you, they can say, ‘I never did that …,’ but if you could actually observe [someone’s] behavior … you’d get a much more reliable indicator of how they behaved.”
Not that “#Unfit” gets too bogged down in the analytical weeds, or should we say the bunkers and sand traps. Augmented by some colorful and funny graphics, the doc has some lighter but still alarming insights, e.g., when veteran sportswriter and author Rick Reilly (“Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump”) outlines various ways in which Trump cheats at golf, including “jerry[rigging] his golf carts. Only one golf cart at every course he owns goes about 30mph, and it’s his. So he can hit the ball, zip [out of sight] … then he can kick the ball, move the ball, move it out of lakes …
“He’s telling people he’s won club championships he hasn’t even played in … six or seven [other] times, he was the only guy playing in the tournament!”
Mostly, though, “#Unfit” is about providing examples (and admittedly, very little of this is new) of Trump’s word and deeds through the decades reinforcing his belief in unfounded conspiracy theories; his utter lack of personal loyalty, as evidenced how he heaps praise upon appointees and employees and associates, only to discard them and call them terrible names once they’ve outlived their usefulness; his inability to experience normal human empathy or even a hint of remorse; his sadistic and vindictive joy in getting even or seeing others fail, and his all-consuming narcissism as he processes virtually every experience through a me-first filter.
Some of the most salient comments come from George Conway, the longtime Republican who has famously become a vocal opponent of Trump despite his wife Kellyanne’s undying loyalty to her boss. (Just this week, the Conways’ 15-year-old daughter Claudia said she’s seeking emancipation, and both George and Kellyanne announced they’d be exiting the public eye to concentrate on their family.)
“Think of what you tell your kids,” says George Conway. “You tell them to be honest, you tell them to tell the truth, you tell them, ‘Don’t think of yourself, don’t brag, don’t trash other people to make yourself feel good.’ How can you support Donald Trump? How can you support someone who essentially violates all of the things we want [our children] to follow? It makes no sense. It’s corrosive for them, it’s corrosive for you and it’s corrosive for the country.”
Not sure what to watch? Search through several hundred of Richard Roeper’s movie and TV reviews, and read the latest edition of “One-Minute Movie Critic.”