EPISODE 13   |   JANUARY 17, 2019
RIGHT TO TRY
Is Trump Derangement Syndrome a real mental disorder? To find the answer, we follow the story of a life-long Democrat, a true American hero, and how baring her soul opened her eyes to a frightening new normal.
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EPISODE 13   |   JANUARY 17, 2019
RIGHT TO TRY
Is Trump Derangement Syndrome a real mental disorder? To find the answer, we follow the story of a life-long Democrat, a true American hero, and how baring her soul opened her eyes to a frightening new normal.
Share this Post
Red Pilled America is designed to be listened to, not read. Please reference and use the audio version for exact quotes.
Patrick Courrielche: We’ve all seen cases Trump Derangement Syndrome – where people are triggered by the simplest show of Trump support.
Lawrence O’Donnell: America is crying tonight, I’m not sure how much of America. But a very significant portion, and I mean literally crying.
Clerk: He’s wearing some Trump bullsh*t. He’s got some racist thoughts in his head. I’m not serving anyone that has to do with that mothef*cker. Leave. Leave the store. Leave the store. Leave the store.
Reporter: Koteski says the woman asked if he was celebrating or protesting Donald Trump’s Inauguration, and he responded celebrating democracy. The woman did go on something of a rant there as you saw. She was later removed from the plane.
Announcer: Donald J. Trump is now President of the United States.
Reporter: Police in Texas are looking for a man caught assaulting a teen who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat.
Reporter: A man wearing one of Trump’s Make America Great Again hats is attacked on an Uptown train.
Victim: He says, oh great, another white Trump supporter. Next thing I know I have hands around my next and I’m being choked.
Patrick Courrielche: We joke about this seeming affliction, but in all seriousness, is it a real? Is Trump Derangement Syndrome a real mental disorder?
I’m Patrick Courrielche and this is Red Pilled America, a storytelling show. This is not another talk show covering the day’s news. We are all about telling stories. Stories Hollywood doesn’t want you to hear. Stories the media mocks. Stories about everyday Americans that the elites ignore. You can think of Red Pilled America as audio documentaries and we promise only one thing…the truth.
Welcome to Red Pilled America.
Patrick Courrielche: Trump Derangement Syndrome. We often use the term jokingly. But is it a real mental disorder? To find the answer, we follow the story of a life-long Democrat, a true American hero, and how baring her soul opened her eyes to a frightening new normal.
Patrick Courrielche: Ellen Bukstel was raised in the Sunshine State.
Ellen Bukstel: I grew up in Miami Florida. About sixty-six years ago I was born.
Patrick Courrielche: She had a happy childhood, and some great role models.
Ellen Bukstel: I had two brothers. One was older and one was younger I was the middle child and we lived in a, you know friendly neighborhood it was, my parents were very open and happy and you know I would say that it was pretty normal.
Patrick Courrielche: Her father was an optometrist and her mother owned her own personalized papertries business. The matriarch of her family also had a side gig.
Ellen Bukstel: We had a very musical family…
My mother was an opera singer…
She was in the Miami Opera Guild choir a chorus and she would perform in the chorus and all of the big operas that were held at Miami Dade County Auditorium for many many years.
And all of us children came by, we got her genes. Let's put it that way.
Patrick Courrielche: She was very artistic from an early age. She began singing as a child. Her and her brother performed as a duo. And she also had another creative passion.
Ellen Bukstel: I was very artistic and in several ways. You know when I was in high school I was always the one that would draw the pep rally signs and when I was young child in elementary school I was the one that was asked to do all the bulletin boards. So I had sort of an you know a knack for art and graphic design…
Patrick Courrielche: So Ellen went to Florida State to study visual communications, what we now call graphic design. She would eventually marry, and in 1976 she started her own graphic design company.
Her marriage would start to falter though. But around 1981, she met a man that would become the love of her life.
Ellen Bukstel: He was a printing broker a super salesman. He a friend of mine suggest that I show him my designs and my artwork and I went to his office showed him my portfolio and he started giving me some business.
He would have clients who would need graphic design for a brochure or a logo or anything related to print design. And that was my job was to create something for the for his clients and of course I had my own clients to direct clients.
But he was sort of a broker in between me and his client. And that's how we met and became friendly…
Patrick Courrielche: His name was Doug. Doug Segal. He was tall. Roughly 200 lbs. Handsome. When they first met it was electric.
Ellen Bukstel: It was it was like sparks and people noticed and it was something that I was not going to let go in my lifetime…
It’s funny, I heard a story, later on after we got together that after I walked out of his first office he said to his secretary he says now I'm going to marry that girl.
Patrick Courrielche: As their relationship grew, Doug shared something with her that seemed minor at the time compared to the love she had for him.
Ellen Bukstel: And one night we were out at dinner with the business sort of a business thing with some friends who were working at his print where he did his printing and that's where he told me he was a hemophiliac which I don't know that I had ever even heard of hemophilia or if I did it didn't pay much attention to it.
Patrick Courrielche: Hemophilia is a blood clotting disorder, afflicting mostly men, where their blood is missing an essential blood clotting protein called Factor VIII. Essentially, their blood doesn’t clot. So if they get a cut or even a simple bruise, they can bleed out and die.
Ellen Bukstel: So what they have to do is they've had to take medicine which is called Factor VIII which basically replaces the factor and enables them to their blood to coagulate. Otherwise they suffer from serious bruising and he would as a young boy he and his brother both where born hemophiliacs and grew up spending a lot of time in the hospital getting blood transfusions and by the time I met Doug of course it was a simple infusion into his veins of Factor VIII and he would be fine.
Patrick Courrielche: Ellen’s mother was concerned about Doug’s hemophilia, but Ellen wasn’t.
Ellen Bukstel: with me it was OK. That is something that he had. My mother was concerned for me. You know she, which mothers are always concerned for their children.
But you know when you're in love those things don't matter you know.
Patrick Courrielche: Ellen and Doug would get married. And in 1982 they had their first son, Brett.
[Doug and Ellen sing]
[Segal family sings happy birthday to Brett]
Patrick Courrielche: Ellen quickly got pregnant again, with their second son, Todd. They were a young couple on their way, bursting with happiness. They deeply loved one another. Life was good.
But something was already brewing. Something that would redefine their life forever.
More after the break.
Adryana Cortez: Welcome back. I’m Adryana Cortez.
So by 1983, Doug and Ellen were growing their family. Life was good. But something was brewing. Something that would redefine their life forever.
Tom Brokaw: Scientists at the National Center for Disease Control in Atlanta today released the results of a study which shows the lifestyle of some male homosexuals has triggered an epidemic of a rare form of cancer. Robert Bazell now in Atlanta.
Robert Bazell: Bobby Campbell of San Francisco and Billy Walker of New York, both suffer from a mysterious newly discovered disease, which effects mostly homosexual men, but has also been found in heterosexual men and women. The condition severely weakens the body’s ability to fight disease. Many victims get a rare form of cancer called Kaposi Sarcoma. Others get an infection called pneumocystis pneumonia. Researchers know of 413 people who have contracted the condition in the past year. One third have died and none have been cured…
Investigators have examined the habits of homosexuals for clues.
Bobby Campbell: I was in the fast lane at one time in terms of the way I lived my life, and now I’m not.
Adryana Cortez: The street name for the condition was called “gay cancer” because it predominantly hit the gay community. But the condition would soon find its way into other areas of the American population in significant numbers, enough to begin garnering media coverage.
CBS Reporter: It appeared a year ago in New York’s gay community. Then the gay communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now it’s been detected in Haitian refugees, and no one knows why. And in heavy drug users, especially in New York City. No one knows way. And in some people with hemophilia, a disease that prevents blood-clotting so the patient needs frequent blood transfusions. Why?
Adryana Cortez: Researchers were initially baffled by the cause of the disease. But by late 1982, they began honing in on the cause – and it started slowly making its way into the news.
Ted Koppel: The disease has already claimed more victims than legionnaire disease and toxic shock syndrome combined. More than 800 cases nationwide. 300 plus of those fatal. And everyday three more cases are identified, and yet still surprisingly few people are familiar with the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or the acronym for which it is frequently identified, AIDS. The reason for that may lie in part on the character of its most common victims. When AIDS first cropped up about 18 months ago almost all of its victims were homosexual males, who frequently changed sexual partners. Alarming enough to that particular segment of society, but so it first appeared not threatening to the public at-large. But that seems to be changing. And the disease may be spreading.
Adryana Cortez: By the time it started seeping into the news, little was widely known about the disease or how it was transmitted. It was still predominately in the gay community, and hadn’t yet substantially made its way into the rest of the world. But one day in 1983, it touched Doug and Ellen’s life.
Ellen Bukstel: batch 4 0 7 7. I'll never forget that number. We got a notice from the blood company saying batch 4 0 7 7 was found to have been infected with the AIDS virus. And of course Doug and Scott used to buy their blood from the blood companies…
Adryana Cortez: The letter from the blood company said that they should not use the batch and to return it. But both Doug and his brother Scott had already infused themselves with the batch.
But at that time in 1983, doctors and researchers were sending the message that the risk for catching the disease was very low – even for hemophiliacs.
Jane Pauley: Dr. Jaffe what about the possibility that some say may be being spread through blood banks?
Harold Jaffe, M.D.: There is some suggestion that it can be transmitted through blood. And clearly now it’s a problem among hemophiliacs. We are also looking at a few cases, non-hemophiliacs who received blood for other reasons. Accidents, operations, and so on, who may have acquired AIDS in that way. I think it’s important to recognize though that this risk at present is extremely small and people should certainly not be refusing blood that they need because of this concern.
Ellen Bukstel: We were right there when everyone else was first hearing about it. My first exposure to it was with the Geraldo Rivera made, you know was talking about this, you know that in the in the gay community how so many men were coming down with this this weird disease and that's where it started for us
Adryana Cortez: So when Doug and Ellen went to see their doctor, knowing little to nothing about the disease, they were told that he was more at risk for something else.
Doug Segal: But there was so little known about AIDS and HIV.
Adryana Cortez: That’s Doug.
Doug Segal: I always felt that there was more of a risk of me to have a problem with hepatitis than with AIDS. And that’s what the medical community still told us.
Adryana Cortez: And anyways, in 1983, there was no test to see if someone had the disease. But a year later, they began getting closer.
Reporter: This is what the HTLV3 virus looks like. Magnified thousands of times. Clumped on the edge of a white blood cell it’s invaded. Still closer an individual virus, showing its dense center, which distinguishes it from other viruses. The breakthrough came with the researchers at the National Cancer Institute were able to isolate that virus and mass produce it for closer study. Health Secretary Margaret Heckler made the announcement to a jammed news conference.
Margaret Heckler: The probable cause of AIDS has been found.
Reporter: Gallo says a blood test for HTLV3 will be ready in six months.
Adryana Cortez: With the risk appearing exceedingly low, Doug and Ellen went on living their lives. They had a daughter, Margo. But all the while the disease was slowly picking up steam in the general population – and then hit a major pop icon that sent shockwaves around the world.
Reporter: Hudson died in his sleep at nine this morning, at his three million dollar home in Beverly Hills.
A frightened Hollywood gave money to fight AIDS. Hudson was too sick to attend last month’s fundraising gala, but his statement was read by actor, Burt Lancaster.
Burt Lancaster: I’m not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.
Adryana Cortez: With Actor Rock Hudson dying of AIDS, the disease entered further into American homes.
By 1986, Doug and his brother started showing some troubling signs.
Ellen Bukstel: They were you know one of the symptoms is sort of chronic sickness. Chronic illness. You know they would have colds they wouldn't go away. You know it's very subtle very slow subtle.
Doug Segal: With high fevers that were unexplained. Night sweats. I started to lose weight. I lost about 40 lbs.
Adryana Cortez: Then his brother Scott was tested. It came up positive for HIV. It was time for Doug to get tested.
Ellen Bukstel: And so we went to Jackson Memorial Hospital to get tested I guess at that point there was finally a test for AIDS.
Adryana Cortez: Doug recalls the visit.
Doug Segal: We were at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The doctor diagnosed me with having AIDS related complex, which is AIDS with the exception that I had not had an opportunistic infection yet. The reaction was we were kinda stunned because he said. What he told us to do was make contingency plans and hope for the best.
Ellen Bukstel-Segal: That was his response. Very nice, very compassionate man. But he didn’t know what to say. It’s like he looked sad. He looked almost sad himself. What can I tell these people. And that’s what he said. Make contingency plans and hope for the best. And we sorta looked at each other tearful and you know shuttered a little bit and then we went and had lunch and decided that we’d go see our attorney and make out our wills and do those things mechanically that we could do, that we had control over, you know, that was some action we could take. And it was logical and it sorta diffused some of the shock, and it gave us something to do. And that was our next step. And then of course who do we tell? Who don’t we tell?
Doug Segal: We weren’t concerned about what people would think about us. We didn’t want people to start rejecting our children. So in the beginning when we decided not to tell a lot of people, it was because of the children. After I developed full blown AIDS which is, I developed pneumocystis pneumonia, which was in May of 1987, we decided that the kids were just going to have to roll with the punches.
Adryana Cortez: Their friends reaction was just about as good as anyone could hope for.
Doug Segal: I have an exceptional, an exceptional loving group of friends their reaction was concern. They of course were concerned with how AIDS was passed on. And they educated themselves. I have not been rejected by anybody. Any of the people who were important to me. I’m just extremely fortunate.
Adryana Cortez: Doug and Ellen decided that they weren’t going to hide. They were going to speak out – bare their souls. They felt that in the long run, it would be better for their kids and was important for the fight against AIDS. You see, at the time, in 1987, AIDS was still thought to primarily to be a gay disease. Now here they were, a straight married couple, facing the exact same disease that was ravaging the gay community. People needed to be educated, and they took on that role.
They spoke to their immediate community.
Doug Segal: I know you all are curious about a lot of things, go ahead and ask. Because I’m sure other people are curious about the same things that you are.
Adryana Cortez: They spoke to the Presidential Commission on AIDS.
Doug Segal: My name is Doug Segal. I’m 35 years old. I’ve been married for almost six years. I have three small pre-school children. I am a hemophiliac and I have AIDS.
Ellen Bukstel-Segal: My name is Ellen Bukstel-Segal. I’m Doug’s wife. I am his friend. And his lover. I do not have AIDS, nor do I test positive for the AIDS antibodies. Our children do not have AIDS nor do they test positive.
Adryana Cortez: And it was in this speaking out that they found a passion.
At the time in 1987, a promising new drug had begun testing.
Ann Rubenstein: AZT was developed in 1964 as an anti-cancer drug. But in experiments a year ago, it prolonged the lives of certain AIDS patients. Those who had the weakest immune systems, and those who had pneumocistic pneumonia - a common and often fatal infection in AIDS patients.
Adryana Cortez: After a long stall, there were finally experimental drugs being tested, but there was still no known cure. So there was a need to educate one of the most high-risk groups - the sexually active youth. That’s where Doug and Ellen found their calling.
Doug Segal: I think I’m trying to add to that red flag because there’s another high risk group in my opinion that is not publicized a lot and that is the young adult, and the teenager who thinks that it’s not gonna happen to them. The heterosexual who feels that this is a gay disease and it’s just not true anymore.
Adryana Cortez: Doug and Ellen became pioneers in their area on educating the public youth. But there was a hesitance by the Reagan Administration for the government to get involved in public school sex education.
Ronald Reagan: The federal role must be to give educators accurate information about the disease. How that information is used must be up to schools and parents. Not government.
Adryana Cortez: And that thought trickled into local communities. The public schools that Doug and Ellen spoke at tried to restrict them from talking about certain areas of sex education.
Ellen Bukstel: I was on a speaker’s bureau for Dade County Public Schools and there were rules that we weren't allowed to talk about and use the word rubber. Well I never paid any attention to that rule.
Ellen Bukstel-Segal: It’s important that people know what kind of illness it is and how it is and is not transmitted. To get up in front of you and say we live our life as we have always lived it with two exceptions. We have chosen to eliminate certain sexual practices from our lovemaking. One of them is intercourse. And the other is deep kissing.
Ellen Bukstel: There was no way I was going to give in to that rule. I didn't work for them. I was a volunteer coming in and speaking and educating kids and I'm thinking too much like I was on this, I was on a mission to make sure that people understood that you know not talking about these things is the worst thing you can do.
Adryana Cortez: Doug and Ellen opened up to anyone and everyone that would listen. It was cathartic for them, to let it all out and not hide. Not be ashamed. There was nothing to be ashamed about. And they wanted to get that message across to whoever would listen. They felt their impact immediately.
Ellen Bukstel: There were people in audiences who were so closeted and so fearful.
That was a really amazing thing when some little school a child would come up. Literally there were some young kids come and take on you know that they wanted to tell me that you know my brother or my mom or something has AIDS and I never told anybody. Imagine being so closeted and so fearful of the community and a people's you know harsh judgments.
Adryana Cortez: Like many creative people experiencing pain, Ellen turned to art as an outlet. She wrote a poem for Doug, and the words just flowed out of her. She presented the poem to Doug and he would play a game with it…calling everyone they knew and seeing if he could make them cry by reciting it. The poem was about Ellen meeting Doug in another place after his passing. She recited it often at their speaking engagements.
In solitude I close my eyes
My dreams help me to see
The joyful and the happy way
That our life used to be
One thing that we have learned for sure
Of This I’m truly glad
To live each day as if it was
The only one we had
If I must live without you
And our life together unsure
We’ll find another place in time
Where we will meet once more.
Adryana Cortez: Doug’s brother Scott would eventually succumb to AIDS. The day after burying him, Doug and Ellen were in court. After a long debate, Doug and his brother decided to sue the blood company for their screening practices that led to them selling the brothers AIDS infected blood. So Doug was following through on their decision.
Ellen Bukstel: It was a horrible experience…
It was devastating to Doug when his brother died and then to have to go to court the next day and be interrogated.
Of course we we lost because they couldn't prove causation. I remember the clerk reading the verdict in tears. This person was crying because it was it was just such an emotional experience for everyone not only those of us involved but people who were observing there and sitting in the gallery it was just amazing. You never would want to go through that again.
Adryana Cortez: Doug was consistently sick from the time he was diagnosed all the way through the trial. But he was still able to speak about his illness to audiences to warn of the dangers. He, along with Ellen, were able to dispel the widespread misinformation about the disease. But within about six months of his brother’s death, the disease began to overtake him.
Ellen Bukstel: But it soon turned from normal to Doug being in bed a lot. He couldn't he couldn't. Sorry. I think that a little emotional here.
Patrick Courrielche: It’s alright.
Ellen Bukstel: It was an amazing experience and it was a sad experience. I was watching someone deteriorate. He was six feet tall. He was probably 200 pounds and he had put what they call wasting syndrome where he couldn't I guess he couldn't process his food intake and he ended up looking like he just walked out of Auschwitz concentration camp. He was like I describe him as skin over bones and it was just the saddest thing to see someone deteriorate like that so fast. And he was incredible. He was. He was in bed. He was bedridden at that point. He was probably not more than gosh if he was 80 pounds after being 200 pounds and robust in his healthy days. He was like I said he was like a skeleton skin over bones. And we still slept together in the same bed. And I woke up in the middle of the night my sister in law who had already lost her husband who was Doug's brother. She was there with me caring for Doug and I woke up and found him dead lying next to me in the middle of the night.
Ana Azcuy: A South Florida man who’s courage in the face of death won him the admiration of many people was buried today. Thirty-six years old Doug Segal, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS, died of the disease this Saturday.
Adryana Cortez: Doug’s greatest fear was that his three young kids would not remember him when he passed.
Doug Segal: Because they’re so young now there stands a very good chance of them not even remembering who I am without being shown by means of videotape or pictures. I think what I’m trying to do now is build memories, because that’s where I’ll live on. In memories in people’s mind. And in my childrens’ mind. Ellen and I have always said to each other that we’re going to meet in a different life and I hope that I am someplace that I can watch over them.
Adryana Cortez: Doug wrote his three young children a letter a year before he died from AIDS. The letter read:
Patrick Courrielche: Brett, Todd and Margo, This is real hard for me, my babies. You three are the reasons I hung on, the foundation of my will to live and the saddest part of knowing that I was going to die.
Margo, you used to say when you were almost two -- "Watch me, Daddy," and then you'd do something silly. I watched you over and over again. I wish I could watch you now.
Pete and Repeat. You're brothers. You really can't imagine how wonderful that is. If you overlook any differences you might eventually have, your brother will be the one person in your life that will always be there for you. Don't ever let that change. It's so important.
My children - grow up, change the world, your success is measured by your integrity. Be there for your friends, love each other. And, if you're old enough now, remember that I, your father, loved you, needed you and was so very proud to have you in my life for as long as I did.
I love you, Brett. I love you, Toddy. I love you, Margo.
Patrick Courrielche: More after the break.
Welcome back, I’m Patrick Courrielche.
After Doug’s passing, Ellen continued her AIDS activism, speaking to high-risk groups about the deadly disease.
She also turned to a passion from her youth, music, and began writing songs. And in 1995, her band at the time, Legacy, published an album dedicated to her late husband and his brother Scott. She adapted her touching poem to Doug for one of the tracks.
Her activism even earned her an opportunity to carry the Olympic torch in 1996 during its travel through Florida.
NBC News Reporter #1: Okay, another pass here from Lina Castalianos to Ellen Bukstel-Segal and she’s an AIDS awareness activist. She’s a single mother of three and she lost her hemophiliac husband to AIDS. And she is a member of Legacy, which is a music group, dedicated to increasing awareness about the disease.
NBC News Reporter #2: These are truly amazing people…
Look at her. You know, she’s got a pretty good pace. I started the same way. She outta slow it down just a little bit so she can savor this moment.
Patrick Courrielche: Over the years, Ellen would continue writing music, many of the songs tackling important social issues, with one of her songs becoming the theme song for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. And she got heavily involved in the local music scene, converting her house several times a year into a concert venue, called Shack in the Back, that raised money for various charities.
Her kids Brett, Todd and Margo also picked up her creative gene. Brett and Todd formed a music and video production company called Segal Brothers Productions, and Margo became a make-up artist. Ellen also met a man and he’d eventually become her live-in boyfriend.
Being immersed in both the arts and AIDS activism community throughout her entire adult life, it isn’t hard to guess that Ellen considered herself a lifelong Democrat. In fact, her entire social circle - including her friends, family, and music fans - are all liberals. But her sons Brett and Todd had acquired a different worldview.
Brett Segal: So one you know my brother and I we were we were both pretty you know pretty good conservatives.
Patrick Courrielche: That’s Ellen’s son Brett Segal.
The two brothers had been making waves in their family with their conservative views, and it started causing trouble for Ellen in the family – and she expressed it to Brett.
Brett Segal: Her immediate reaction was, Brett you just are kicking the beehive. You are just being antagonistic to the family. You're alienating me from my family. And when the other side of the family basically banned me from the family reunion she started seeing a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes.
Patrick Courrielche: That move opened Ellen’s eyes a bit to some of the intolerance on her side of the aisle.
But it was the election of Donald Trump that brought it into full view.
Brett Segal: And then Donald Trump got elected…and all of a sudden you know all the people that she knew all of her friends and you know everybody that she knew just went deranged. They went absolutely deranged. Started posting all this stuff. It's a popular apocalyptic stuff. They started posting apocalyptic stuff. Memes and things that were like oh it's going gonna be the end of the world it's going to be the end of the economy the economy is going to tank. He's going to he's going to you know we're like what Joe Biden said he's gonna put you all back in chains. They really thought that that was going on. They really thought that women were being you know their rights were being curtailed that gays were being carted off you know in box cars just like the Jews in the Holocaust it was gonna be another Holocaust. Right. So you know it's really not difficult to see when you look outside that OK. There's really no holocaust going on. You know you go out into the world and you actually see that people aren't being accosted on a daily basis.
Patrick Courrielche: Ellen raised her kids right, so she knew they wouldn’t be supporting the man portrayed by her social circle.
Brett Segal: And when she started warming up, she started understanding that it's not my son hasn't just all of a sudden after many years just turned into a racist it turned into a white supremacist. You know that's the way it seemed that her liberal friends were framing the thing that people have just gone off the deep end and that's why they voted a demagogue like Donald Trump.
Patrick Courrielche: So her sons began talking with Ellen more about their conservative beliefs, and why they supported the president. And Ellen began warming to, if not Trump, her sons’ views.
Brett Segal: She started opening her eyes to what it was that was going on and she still didn't like Trump. She didn't really like him at all. She said, oh well maybe he's maybe he's not that bad but I just don't like the way he talks.
Patrick Courrielche: But then something happened.
Donald Trump: We also believe that patients with terminal conditions, terminal illness, should have access to experimental treatment immediately that could potentially save their lives. It’s time for Congress to give these wonderful incredible Americans the right to try.
Patrick Courrielche: Donald Trump pushed for then signed the Right To Try Bill into law.
CBS News Reporter: President Trump said Right to Try will give dying patients hope where they had none before.
Donald Trump: Right to Try. And a lot of that trying is going to be successful. I believe that. I really believe it
Patrick Courrielche: You see, when Ellen’s husband Doug was first diagnosed with HIV in October 1986, a drug AZT had been developed over twenty years earlier. After some red tape was removed, AZT entered the trail phase in 1987 to treat AIDS patients suffering from the very same ailment that was afflicting Doug – pneumocistic pneumonia.
Ann Rubenstein: AZT was developed in 1964 as an anti-cancer drug. But in experiments a year ago, it prolonged the lives of certain AIDS patients - those who had the weakest immune systems, and those who had pneumocistic pneumonia a common and often fatal infection in AIDS patients.
Patrick Courrielche: The drug is used to this day as part of an overall treatment to drastically extend the lives of HIV patients.
When Ellen heard about the Right to Try law, it struck her.
Ellen Bukstel: And just this past year I was aware, I became aware that President Trump had signed a into law the Right to Try. I never heard of such a thing. And I I found out a little more about it and I decided that I would post my story on Facebook to my friends.
And I told them how he died. Lying next to me in bed.
Brett Segal: So she made a very impassioned post on Facebook which in which she basically said I watched my husband die. I watched my husband die and this law might have saved his life. I watched him die and the Right to Try might have given him some hope at the very least. It wasn't just it. it would have made it not a death sentence. Maybe. maybe just maybe it would have given us kids some extra time with our father. Maybe it would have maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe years.
Ellen Bukstel: And you know put it out there the whole sordid sad situation. And basically my first sentence was I want to applaud President Trump for signing a Right to Try law into law. And you would have thought that I put a set a bomb off somewhere.
Brett Segal: She got a taste of the vitriol. She got a taste of the blind hatred, she got a taste of the absolute derangement. She had people going on there saying that if I were you I'd be if I were you I would be ashamed to be a mother you know things like that like her friends of years were going on and saying how how could you even say anything nice about him.
Patrick Courrielche: This was a woman that had not only been through a horrific ordeal, but her activism in the face of it all helped relieve pain and educate a frantic public. She no doubt saved lives. And here she was, baring her soul again, giving very specific praise to the president – about a topic that few knew more about than her – and she was attacked on a level that shocked her. Not only did her social circle bombard her with hate – but her own boyfriend joined the mob.
Brett Segal: her boyfriend of 20 years when he could have just walked across the house and said hey what's going on with you in this you know Trump you know and this your warm feelings toward Trump. What's going on with that. Instead what he did was he posted in public on Facebook a scathing deriding degrading diatribe about all the fake news that is spread about Trump and conservatives and basically tossed her under the bus in front of all of her fans in front of all of her friends in front of all of her family. He just tossed her under the bus online while she was on her way to get a neurological exam.
Patrick Courrielche: Her boyfriend moved out in a matter of a few weeks.
Ellen had experienced Trump Derangement Syndrome – something so many have faced over the past few years.
The phrase Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS for short, appears to have been coined by a conservative writer named Esther Goldberg in August 2015 – however the term was likely derived by the late psychiatrist and political commentator Charles Krauthammer when he cited Bush Derangement Syndrome as “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency – nay – the very existence of George W. Bush.”
Esther Goldberg’s original reference to TDS may have been tongue-and-cheek, but since the results of the 2016 election, some suspect it might be a serious mental condition.
Dr. Robert Edward Whitley: What people call Trump Derangement Syndrome may indeed be some kind of mental condition which is shared by many people.
Patrick Courrielche: That’s Dr. Robert Whitley, the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. He recently wrote a serious article about the potential of Trump Derangement Syndrome being a real mental condition.
Dr. Robert Edward Whitley: In psychiatry what we often do is we raise possibilities, we raise awareness of issues for discussion. So my intention was really to start discussion.
My dream is to do a research study on this…
Patrick Courrielche: What may explain the phenomenon of Trump Derangement Syndrome is what psychologists refer to as cognitive dissonance.
Again, Dr. Robert Whitley.
Dr. Robert Edward Whitley: So cognitive dissonance is a concept which is commonly used in psychology whereby an individual or group hold two ideas simultaneously within their own mind which are actually contradictory or which one can say are mutually exclusive.
Patrick Courrielche: In other words, cognitive dissonance is the tension that someone experiences when they are presented with facts that completely contradict their strongly held opinion.
The first person to explain Trump Derangement Syndrome in terms of cognitive dissonance, and flag it as a serious issue, is the famed Dilbert artist Scott Adams.
Scott Adams: In all seriousness, this is a legitimate, fairly major mental health issue.
Patrick Courrielche: The way Scott Adams see it, Trump supporters were less likely to experience a derangement after the 2016 Election because regardless of the results, the outcome would have made sense in the mind of a Trump supporter either way. If Trump would have lost, well that’s what the media and the polls were telling everyone anyways, so there would have been no mental conflict. If Trump won, as he did – well, that’s what a Trump supporter expected to happen anyways. The results would have explained a world that made sense to a Trump supporter. However, the other half of the country had a completely different reality about Trump. For nearly a year and a half, almost 24/7, the media was painting Trump as the reincarnation of Hitler with no chance of winning the election.
Scott Adams: But, if you were on the side that knew he couldn’t win, there’s no way that you were living in a country that this monster could ever become our leader. And then you woke up and he was, that’s a classic set up for cognitive dissonance. That’s where you rewrite the script in your head to make sense of this new information. And here’s what people don’t do because we’re all human. So let me make this not a comment about just half the country. It’s a universal comment. We rarely write the script in our head to say, you know the best way to explain this is that I was a f*cking idiot for two years. Right, nobody does that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s normal. I don’t do it, you don’t do it. Nobody does that. So they have to come up with a new script that explains their situation, and so I think they’ve come up with, my god I think there are more racists in the country than we knew. They voted this guy in. And he must have had help from Russia.
Patrick Courrielche: So when people are met with cold hard facts that refute their deeply felt opinions, they experience cognitive dissonance and sometimes lash out, or come up with wild ideas to make sense of the world that now makes no sense to them.
Dr. Robert Edward Whitley: But we do know that some people have difficulties with open cognitive dissonance. And like I said that often results in blaming other people or in coming to false conclusions or to having a kind of mini conspiracy theory about what's happening in life.
Patrick Courrielche: What we have seen since the 2016 Elections is possibly the most massive case of cognitive dissonance that has ever occurred in western civilization. An that’s not hyperbole. It’s what led to the reaction to Ellen’s heartfelt post, a post that simply cited something irrefutably good that Trump had done – signing the Right to Vote law.
Here was a person, a truly special woman, an American hero, who’s horrific personal tragedy gave her a unique perspective on Trump’s action. She shared that feeling with her community. And the power of her credibility on this issue contradicted the strongly held beliefs of Ellen’s social circle…so they attacked her character to make sense of their world.
Which leads us back to the question, is Trump Derangement Syndrome a real mental condition?
I think Ellen’s story shows us the answer is yes – but we’ll have to wait for Dr. Robert Whitley to find a research grant to give us clear, data-driven evidence. In the meantime, we’re forced to listen to this for the foreseeable future.
CNN Anchor: Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset.