Each of these presidential therapy sessions corrodes us until the moment when the president finally shambles away in a fog of muttered slogans and paranoid sentence fragments. In a time of crisis, we should be finding what is best in ourselves. Trump, instead, invites us to join a daily ritual, to hear lines from a scared and mean little boy’s heroic play-acting about how he bravely defeated the enemies and scapegoats who told him to do things that would hurt us. He insists that he has never been wrong and that he isn’t responsible for anything ever.
Daily, Trump’s opponents are enraged by yet another assault on the truth and basic human decency. His followers are delighted by yet more vulgar attacks on the media and the Democrats. And all of us, angry or pleased, become more like Trump, because just like the president, we end up thinking about only Trump, instead of our families, our fellow citizens, our health-care workers, or the future of our country. We are all forced to take sides every day, and those two sides are always “Trump” and “everyone else.”
Perhaps to call this daily abomination “therapy” is unfair, because therapy has a healing goal. As Jennifer Melfi, the psychotherapist for HBO’s fictional mob boss Tony Soprano, realized at the end of the series, when she finally threw him out of her office, counseling someone incapable of reflection or remorse is pointless; it makes the counselor into a worse person for enduring such long exposure to the patient.