Folie (Madness)

One of the most bizarre and interesting psychiatric diagnoses that I learned about in medical school is called Folie a’ deux.   It was first described in the 19th century by two French psychiatrists, Charles Lasegue and Jean-Pierre Falret, and is also known as Lasegue-Falret Syndrome.  Unless you are a doctor I wouldn’t expect you to know this disorder.  Today I mentioned this to two psychotherapists who had never heard of it.   I only remember it because it is just so unusual.

Folie a’ deux literally means “madness for two” and is so rare that most physicians, indeed most psychiatrists, will never see a case.  In this condition two people share a delusional belief and sometimes even hallucinations.  It’s as if the delusions are transmitted from one individual to another like an infection.   Clearly we don’t go around sharing and catching delusions randomly or we would all be infected and there would be no rational thought.  The typical configuration for folie a’ deux is a mother/daughter pair.  Once the two are separated, one of the individuals (usually the daughter) reverts to rational thought but the primary person (usually the mother) continues in the delusional experience.  If the two are brought back together, the daughter again gets caught up in the shared delusion.

There is not enough information to learn in medicine (insert eyeroll here!) so the powers that be continuously change the names of every disease, bacteria, and drug.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4 (DSM-4) referred to this disorder as “shared psychotic disorder” and “induced delusional disorder”.  Most professionals however continue to refer to this by the original name, folie a’ deux.  It is so rare, however, that it is not even listed in the current DSM-5.

The diagnostic criteria in DSM-4 include the following:

  1. The affected individuals must have a delusion that develops in the context of a close relationship with an individual who already has an established delusion.
  2. The delusion must be very similar or even identical to the one already established in the primary case.
  3. The delusion cannot be better explained by any other psychological disorder, mood disorder with psychological features, a direct result of physiological effects of substance abuse or any general medical condition.

When I was in med school, I was taught that there was one documented case of folie a’ trois (madness for three).  It was a grandmother/daughter/granddaughter triad.  Wikipedia, however, reports that the name can be expanded i.e. folie a’ quatre, (four) folie en famille, (family madness) or even folie a’ plusieurs (madness of several).  I’d like to propose that our country is suffering from an even larger phenomenon:  folie a’ masses.  (Yes the English word ‘masses’ is translated into French as ‘masses’ but is pronounced with only one syllable as in Maaaaas.)

There is a mass delusion going on in America.  Nearly half the country is suffering from folie a’ masses.

Ask any Biden voter why they are voting for Joe Biden and they will give you a litany of things wrong with Donald Trump.  “Trump is a racist.”  “Quid pro Quo”.  “Trump called our fallen soldier ‘losers’.”  and who can forget “Russian Collusion”.  When asked to provide evidence of any Trump wrong doing, they rely on anonymous sources, anonymous whistleblowers, suppositions, fake dossiers, falsified FISA warrants, media reports that are just repetitions of all of the above.  Where is the evidence?

I won’t take the time to exhaustively refute every accusation made against the president because of Brandolini’s law:  “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”  (For the scientifically challenged an ‘order of magnitude’ is 10 times.  Two orders of magnitude is X 102 or 100 times.)  I will, however, address a few of these as just examples of the mass delusion.

“Trump is a racist.”  The original argument was about The Wall, then the executive order limiting travel from 7 countries known to harbor terrorists, then Charlottesville.  All of these accusations have been proven false over and over.   In the meantime, Trump has made incredible progress in prison reform and presided over the lowest unemployment among African Americans in history.   His democratic opponent on the other hand was one of the authors of the 1994 Crime Bill that has created so much misery in the Black community.  Trump is a racist?  Um, no.

“Quid pro quo.”  An anonymous whistle blower reported that Trump tried to blackmail Ukraine by withholding aid if they did not investigate Biden.  The transcript of the phone call proved otherwise.  Then it came out that the “anonymous whistle blower” wasn’t so anonymous and is a democrat who hates Trump. The democratically controlled House of Representatives even impeached the president on this flimsiest of evidence! His democratic opponent on the other hand was in bed with a Ukraine gas company.  Quid pro quo?  Again, no.

“Trump called the fallen soldiers losers.”  This was an out and out lie published in The Atlantic and attributed to an anonymous source.  Numerous people who were present have come out and reported that it didn’t happen.  It was a fabricated lie made from whole cloth without a granule of evidence.

“Russian Collusion.”  This one was fed to the American public for three full years.  Hillary Clinton and the democrats paid money for a dossier that was falsified.  It was “leaked” to the news media who then reported that Trump was colluding with Putin.  The FBI then used news media reports (I use the term ‘news media’ very loosely) as evidence of collusion to obtain FISA warrants.  Worse, at the time that they obtained the FISA warrants the FBI had hard evidence that the dossier was fabricated.  Three years and 30+ million dollars later and we now have proof that it was all made up. Did you get that last part? Made up. A lie. Fabricated.

Pardon me if I don’t believe one word that I hear on the mainstream media.  They can howl when The Donald calls them Fake News but is there a better description?  They lie about their lies and the truth is not in them.  It has gotten to the point that when they report “Donald Trump called our fallen soldiers ‘losers’ for dying and not winning” that I literally laughed out loud at the radio.  It was clearly false.  If you believed it, then please call me.  I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell.

Some would argue that I am the one who is deluded, but I do see his shortcomings. I don’t believe Trump is the second coming of Jesus.  I don’t think he’s perfect.  He has many flaws as do we all.  He’s rude.  He calls people names.  The names may not be polite, may not be nice, but to quote Ezra Pound “No capon priest was the Goodly Fere but a man o-men was he.”   Donald Trump is a man who champions America and average working Americans and is fighting against the people who cling to power at all costs.

Folie a’ masses?  The delusion is real, my friend.  It is a spiritual blindness and I pray the scales fall of in time for America to survive.

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