One of the familiar taunts that supporters of the president hurl at opponents is that they are suffering from TDS: Trump Derangement Syndrome.
TDS is marked by neurotic obsession with the president and his provocations, an inability to maintain emotional detachment from his outlandish behavior, leading ultimately to distorted perceptions of reality. Trump backers love issuing a mocking diagnosis: You are letting him live in your head rent-free. Ha, ha!
The taunt is effective because the targets often ruefully acknowledge it is true. The syndrome is related to another psychological concept in vogue in the Trump era, “gaslighting,” in which people are manipulated into questioning their own sanity.
Recent days have raised an arresting possibility: Trump himself appears to be suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
This isn’t really surprising. A practitioner of germ warfare would need to wear an airtight suit to avoid being infected by the virus intended for his or her enemies. Unless Trump has been very careful in the lab, it’s not hard to imagine that his various experiments in conspiracy theory, self-mythologizing, insult, grandiosity and fact denial might be seeping into his own consciousness. At a minimum, there are plainly a lot of people living in his head, and it’s hard to believe he is collecting rent from all of them.