There are now two mental health professional positions being articulated about Trump as follows:
One: Letter to New York Times by leading professionals that:
Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behavior suggest a profound inability to empathize. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them (journalists, scientists).
In a powerful leader, these attacks are likely to increase, as his personal myth of greatness appears to be confirmed. We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.
Two: Response letter to Times from psychiatrist who wrote DSM definition of narcissistic personality disorder, and mentioning that many have referred to this ddisorder. (Note, however, that the above letter did not make any specific diagnosis, presumably in an attempt to avoid falling afoul of the APA’s “Goldwater Rule,” purporting to prohibit a “professional opinion [without] . . . an examination and . . . proper authorization for such a statement“)
Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy. It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).
Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely. Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy. He can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers.
His psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.
Regardless of where you fit between these views — which are not, Ieast least, inconsistent, particularly since neither offesr a specific diagnosis — and regardless of which diagnosis if any appeals to you, two facts remain:
- This is the first time since Adolph Hitler that such demonstratively unstable and unpredictable leader has been in control of a country of significant size.
- It is also the first time EVER than such a leader has controlled nuclear weapons.
Obviously those politicians who refuse to take appropriate steps, and those who enable this leader in any way, are fully responsible for whatever transpires.
Indeed, the question has to be asked at what point does the APA’s “Goldwater Rule,” in addition to arguably violating the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, itself become such an enabler.