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Derangement syndrome


The current usage is in the form of “Trump derangement syndrome”, meant to suggest a person who has come unhinged by the subject of Donald Trump.

But it cannot be properly understood without acknowledgement of its predecessor conditions: Obama Derangement Syndrome, Bush Derangement Syndrome, Clinton Derangement Syndrome – all in-currency usages in their day, and all meant to connote something similar but with interchangeable subjects and objects. (Trump, Obama and Bush all have separate pages on Wikipedia, as an indication of their common usage.) The DS coinage seems to have started with Clinton; earlier strong objections seem to have been described differently.

(The popularization of the term has been pegged to columnist Charles Krauthammer, who launched the Bush-era use of it in 2003.)

Are we doomed to become deranged by anyone sitting in the White House? Or is any criticism of that person doomed to be dismissed as the product of insanity?

That seems to be the common usage. One web site said called Trump DS “a[n] illness that hard left liberals, anti-trump conservatives, and progressives have. These are very hateful people who cannot have reasonable arguments or conversations about common sense issues.” (Sounds like a calm, objective, fair-minded point of view, right?)

Columnist E.J. Dionne counters, liberals “are told that their apprehension about the threat he poses to our constitutional democracy is not a form of vigilance but a disease.”

(Dionne also proposes “Trump Rearrangement Syndrome: A disorder common among Republicans who were once very critical of #Trump but now disown everything they said (or pretend they never said it) to curry favor with him & his core supporters.)

Does “derangement syndrome” – which sounds so scientific – actually have a meaning other than as an insult meant to be lobbed across the political aisle?

It does, as it turns out.

This traces back to a physical therapist from New Zealand named Robin McKenzie (1931-2013), who researched and helped treat pain in the spine and the limbs. He developed a school of thought on treatment in that area, called the McKenzie Method, which has some popularity in the field.

He organized his varieties of condition and appropriate treatment in three categories, all classified as “syndromes.” One of them related to tissue deformities (dysfunction syndrome), and concerns posture (postural syndrome) coming from such actions as slouching, and then there’s derangement syndrome, the most common of the three.

It refers to “pain which is caused by a disturbance in the normal resting position of the affected joint surfaces. This syndrome is classified in two groups: Irreducible derangement … No strategy is capable to produce a permanent change in symptoms. [And] Reducible derangement: Shows one direction of repeated movement which decreases or centralizes referred symptoms = preferred direction; shows also an opposite repeated movement characterized by production or increase or distal movement of the symptoms. The treatment includes: examination of the patient’s symptomatic and mechanical response to repeated movements or sustained positions because the chosen treatment depends on the clinically induced directional preference.”

Read through that carefully again, and ponder whether Dr. McKenzie might in fact have found something that might be usefully adapted for use in American politics …

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