March 24, 2023

OPINION: He’s violent, he’s mentally ill, he’s Herschel Walker and he’s unfit for office

OPINION: He's violent, he's mentally ill, he's Herschel Walker and he's unfit for office

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Herschel Walker has a history that should not be ignored. He is unstable and has frequently been violent.

Walker has said that he has been cured of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a condition that once used to be called “multiple personality disorder,” and one that has often been mischaracterized by TV, movies, and books.

As a matter of fact, many psychiatrists do not believe in DID, but feel that it is a diagnosis encouraged by therapists keen to believe in it.

Even those who do accept it as a legitimate diagnosis will tell you that it’s extraordinarily rare.

They’ll also tell you that, Walker’s assertions aside, it cannot simply be “cured” like a broken leg, but is something that has to be coped with.

To be clear: most people with mental illness – and I mean the overwhelming majority – are not violent.

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They are people who are suffering and need our help. Many of them can also handle jobs with a considerable amount of responsibility.

Yet, for starters, we should be honest about something: not everyone is cut out for every job.

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Someone in a wheelchair can do many, many things and is just as good as the rest of us, but they’re not the best pick to play quarterback for the Giants.

Someone with a severe (and still present) speech impediment, should not be a TV news anchor (although Kari Lake managed to do it without a brain).

And we should certainly have reservations about making a person with a history of mental illness a US senator.

Keep in mind that senators are often dealing with highly classified information.

They also help decide judicial appointments, how our money is spent, and what our defense budget should be. And they are often viewed by other nations as our representatives to the world.

There is such a thing as excessive politeness.

It would be wrong, for instance, to jump into a car with a blind driver because you don’t want to offend them by pointing out that they shouldn’t be driving.

And, whatever your feelings about Typhoid Mary, we can all agree you wouldn’t want her preparing your food.

And a person with a serious mental disorder should not be a US senator with all that it entails.

Walker, though, represents a particular danger. Unlike most people with mental disorders who, as noted, ARE NOT VIOLENT, Walker has a history of violence and has continually acted irrationally, even throughout this campaign.

Passages from his book, in which he describes some of his dozen “alters” (alter-egos or personalities), like the Consoler, the Sentry, the Coach, and the Judge, also show how ridiculously violent he’s been.

At one point he talks openly about his fascination with death, describing how he caressed a gun, then played Russian roulette with it (on his own).

At another point, he describes what he thought about doing to a man who was late delivering him a new car:

“What I was thinking of doing to this man —murdering him for messing up my schedule—wasn’t a viable alternative. But another side of me was so angry that all I could think was how satisfying it would feel to step out of the car, pull out the gun, slip off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. It would be no different from sighting on the targets I’d fired at for years—except for the visceral enjoyment I’d get from seeing the small entry wound and the spray of brain tissue and blood—like a Fourth of July firework—exploding behind him. Every few seconds, I’d hear a voice telling me, ‘No, Herschel, that’s wrong. You can’t shoot a man down in cold blood over this.’ Over that voice I’d hear another urging me on: ‘You’ve got to take care of business. This guy has done you wrong. You can’t let him get away with that. Kill him.’”

At another point in the book:

“Along with that, I formed a very black-and-white, yes-and-no moral and ethical sense that has both helped and hurt me to this day. When I got so angry at the man who didn’t deliver the car to me on the day that I specified and in the manner I requested, that was that Judge identity coming into play. And he’s not a very impartial kind of guy. He sees things in very stark terms. You said you were going to do something for me on a date and a time and you failed to do it; therefore, you must be punished—and punished severely. I guess he’s a hanging judge.”

If this nasty thought had been an isolated incident, perhaps it could be forgiven, since he did not actually take the action.

But Herschel Walker has been a serial abuser of women.

His “therapist” – a controversial figure named Jerry Mungadze, who embraces some rather unorthodox solutions to mental illness, including, at times, exorcisms – once had to call the police because Walker threatened to kill his own wife with a gun.

“He threatened to kill her, myself, and himself. I called 911, and the police came,” Mungadze told Playboy in 2011.

Walker’s wife, Cindy Grossman, once described how he put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. She eventually got a straining order against him and a judge revoked Walker’s firearm for a while.

As the AP has reported, a girlfriend of Walker’s, Myka Dean, also had to get the police involved after Walker said he would “blow her head off.”

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On top of all this, we’ve seen how Walker treats women in general, forcing them to get abortions while claiming to be against abortion; how he treats his children; and his tendency to speak in fantastical terms.

Dr. Allen Frances of Duke University may have put it most succinctly in his remarks about Walker to Mother Jones:

“If Herschel Walker does indeed suffer from multiple personality disorder, that should by itself disqualify him from any high office,” he said. “If Herschel Walker just used multiple personality disorder as an excuse for his horrendous behavior, that should disqualify him for any high office.”

Is there really any doubt that this man’s mental state makes him completely unfit for office?

Follow Ross on Twitter @RossRosenfeld

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.

Ross Rosenfeld

is a news analysis and opinion writer whose work has also appeared in the New York Daily News and Newsweek. He lives in New York.

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