With all due respect, the insistence of a few “smart guys” is unreasonable in submitting Jair Bolsonaro to a psychiatric examination, with a view to his rapid, convenient and politically ‘cheap” removal from the presidency of the republic without any need for impeachment.
It is one thing to disagree with the words and attitudes of a combative, argumentative president of a strictly military background, of limited general, legal and literary culture and who is much too frank, even “coarse”, but who was and still is supported by millions of Brazilians who will probably not turn a blind eye to his easy removal based on suspicions raised via “psychiatry”. They will say: — “If Bolsonaro is “crazy”, then we are too, because we think and feel the same way!”
As in the case of all sciences, psychiatry seeks to evolve, but due to the fact that it works with the brain, our most complex organ — much more complex than the liver or kidneys, for example — it is very likely subject to mistakes and slip-ups in its procedures.
One of these blunders would be a psychiatric report, produced for clearly political reasons, stating that the person investigated is mentally incapable of fulfilling his mandate. If he is insane, then there are dozens and dozens of individuals who are just as insane, or even worse than him, throughout the country. It would be necessary to examine more than one hundred people suspected of being “soft in the head”. Many of them crazy for taxpayers’ money. Others, crazy for transforming draft bills, submitted by the Executive Branch — with a view to “cracking down” on criminality — into laws with the opposite effect that are only going to create further obstacles in the fight against white-collar criminals.
In the past, patients suffered from painful electric shock treatment of dubious effectiveness. One of them even stated that it would be possible to illuminate a medium-sized town with the amount of electricity that had gone through his head.
When they did not die from lobotomies or leucotomies, aggressive schizophrenics became “docile” and passive, but with intellectual defects. As far as I know, and I am not a doctor, these two forms of surgical treatment are no longer in use and brain science continues to be full of uncertainty. The blame does not lie with practitioners, but with the complex nature of their object of study.
For this reason, a diagnosis regarding the mental sanity of the acts of a president of the republic, at a very difficult time for the country — and, indeed, the rest of the world — will be seen, quite rightly, as a “coup”, even if the psychiatrists that examine him are mentally honest.
The risk of any bad faith in removing Bolsonaro for reasons of mental illness will not lie with the physician, but the politician or lawyer responsible for selecting the members of the medical committee. Once with a list of psychiatrists, ensuring he is alone with each one, he will ask — requiring simply “yes” or “no” as an answer — whether Bolsonaro is “half-crazy or abnormal, incapable of continuing to govern”.
Based on the political preference of the physician, asked unexpectedly, if he says “yes”, he will be included on the list of possible members of the medical committee. If he says “no”, or “I have not yet made up my mind ...”, his name will be removed without him even knowing. With this selection of prior, extremely subjective political opinions, it would be easy to remove any president of the republic.
Bolsonaro is really reckless and rude when he speaks, in an improvised manner, but his voters prefer a sincere president with an honest past, instead of lying politicians, who are truly walking collections of hackneyed phrases defending the “legitimate rights of citizenship”, but not averse to pocketing, as “intermediaries”, a variable percentage in all high-value government business dealings.
It is possible, and desirable, that Bolsonaro soon correct his naive frankness — pondering the terrible consequences of sincerity — and avoid speaking in an improvised manner on sensitive issues, remembering that his enemies — experts in hiding their real intentions — use “opportune silence” as a “weapon”, a more effective tactic than impulsive sincerity. Viewing silence as a “weapon”, or combat technique, perhaps the president, as an ex-soldier, feels more highly motivated to utilize the useful side of silence. Many politicians have been successful and resilient because they cultivated the “art of remaining silent” when this was better than speaking. Silence is a great blanket. Getúlio Vargas was a master in this. Luís Carlos Prestes, an extremely intelligent communist, always the top of his class in mathematics, ruined his future when, during an interview — asked about which side he would take if there were a war between Russia and Brazil — he replied that he would support Russia. This was his downfall.
In general, the oral communication of a military man is harsher, more direct, than that of a professional politician. Napoleon Bonaparte, a military man of exceptional intelligence, a great statesman, was also excessively frank, although brilliant. For example, he said that Constitutions “should be short and obscure”, a phrase that would currently lead to a bout of fainting on the part of respected constitutionalists and ministers of the Supreme Court. With regard to religion, he said that it was useful because “it prevented the poor from killing the rich”. Referring to his ex-minister of foreign affairs, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand — an educated politician who later became his adversary — he said that “Talleyrand is shit in a silk stocking” (begging your indulgence).
Psychiatry, given the elasticity and uncertainty of its limits, still makes it possible to recognize or “invent” anyone as “sick” with ideas or attitudes that go against majorities, minorities, governments, other psychiatrists or whoever chose them to examine a political enemy. In this case, it is clear that the enemy would be the current president.
There are historical precedents.
When the Soviet Union had Leonid Brezhnev as its General Secretary, Russian psychiatry used and abused the ruse of recognizing anyone who disagreed with official policy as “sick”. The psychiatrist, chosen by him, would recognize the opponent as suffering from “philosophical intoxication”, or “progressive schizophrenia” — a commissioned scientific innovation — and this was sufficient for the stubborn wretch to be “interned” for an indefinite period of time.
It was a way of silencing a dissident without having to kill him, as in the time of Stalin. This “Father of Nations” was very much more direct and virulent than his successors, as he physically eliminated his adversaries — taken from their homes, in the middle of the night — without being worried about the opinion of the public, which could not even have an opinion as there was no free press. When Stalin realized that his political future was at risk, he used his highest court to first “judge” his ex-comrades of the Revolution as “traitors”. Then he executed them. In order to facilitate rapid judgment, the accused were tortured or blackmailed into “confessing” their crimes. Fearing death and also thinking of his family, the dissident perhaps “confessed” with some hope of remaining alive. Vain hope. From the reports I have read, he killed them all, without exception. If you would like to learn more concerning this topic, just read about “The Moscow Show Trials” (1936-1938), during the Great Purge. This small digression shows that political dissidents can be removed not only by psychiatric reports, but also by magistrates.
In the case of Bolsonaro — the mass of voters thought — his misfortune, suffering stab wounds, was not solely moral. It was also physical, with a risk of death and likely planned. Not only by the perpetrator, someone called Bispo who, rather than being crazy, seems to only be a lucid fanatic who carefully planned everything and was able to count on legal assistance soon after his arrest. If Bispo is crazy, then Marat, Danton, Robespierre (guillotine), Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, etc. would also be crazy, because they killed hundreds of millions of opponents for reasons that we consider to be cruel and inhumane, but not indicative of insanity.
Finally, there is no solid basis for removing Bolsonaro from power before the end of his mandate, something that would delight many people eager to occupy his place. I voted for him as a means of preventing the return of politicians with a greater number of flaws in administering handling taxpayers’ money. At present, his enemies are united and smiling, but, on attaining their objective, they will devour each other with exemplary ferocity.
With regard to the mediocre and encouraged “dispute of comrades” between Moro and Bolsonaro, this rupture between two people who will still be very useful to the country was organized and motivated by politicians, magistrates and the media, who wished to put an end to the Lava Jato corruption investigation and administer the Republic in their own preferred manner. It is my hope that, in the not too distant future, Moro and Bolsonaro — each with their own specialty — will work together in cooperation. One with his competence as a magistrate, the other with his courage to fight with great bravery. The latter perfected with the virtue of the right silence at the right moment.
(This article was written in Portuguese and translated by John Upson. Francisco Cesar Pinheiro Rodrigues is a Brazilian writer, retired judge, resident in São Paulo, Brazil, with several published books. He wrote more than 200 articles, on the most varied subjects, which can be read, in Portuguese, on blog "francepiro.blogspot.com" and on the website www.500toques.com.br. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org