Photo: Dan Kitwood (Getty)

It’s easy for casual observers to watch President Donald Trump stumble over words, stop mid-thought to wave at passing boats, ramble about “snakes everywhere” and to conclude to themselves that yes, this guy is definitely losing it. That said, it’s something altogether different when the people who work closest with the president actually ask a professional mental health expert to step in because he’s freaking them the fuck out.

That, however, is exactly what Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee claims has happened.

In an interview with Salon published Thursday, Lee, editor of 2017's The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, claims that several White House staffers approached her to address the president’s declining faculties.

She explains:

Two White House officials actually contacted me in late October, stating that Trump was “scaring” them, that he was “unraveling.” Not wishing to confuse the role I chose, as an educator of the public, and a potential treatment role, I referred them to the local emergency room without inquiring much further.

It’s worth noting that allegations of Trump’s mental instability veering into the clinical realm have swirled around this White House since the beginning of his presidency—so much so that this past January, the American Psychiatric Association publicly called for an end to “armchair” evaluations of the president. What makes Lee’s claim different is that, for the first time, we’re hearing of actual administration figures reaching out to an actual doctor, seemingly in the hopes of staging some sort of intervention.

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And Lee isn’t just any doctor. She’s an eminently qualified physician who has both a medical degree and a masters of divinity from Yale. According to her faculty bio at that university, she:

Served as Director of Research for the Center for the Study of Violence (Harvard, U. Penn., N.Y.U., and Yale), co-founded Yale’s Violence and Health Study Group (MacMillan Center for International Studies), and leads a project group for the World Health Organization’s Violence Prevention Alliance.

[...]

She has served as consultant to the World Health Organization Violence and Injury Prevention department, UNESCO, and other United Nations bodies, and as speaker to the World Economic Forum.

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So when she says the people in a position to know best what’s actually going on at the West Wing are having the bejeezus scared out of them by Trump’s “unraveling” mental state, it’s probably a sign that however bad things look from the outside, it’s even worse on the inside.