A Look at Trump’s Mental Health



                                                by Kenneth Bagnell



      It’s now about a year since Donald Trump was reported in the media to have given his back hand to women by saying: “Canadian women threaten our core values, our way of life, and the very things we are trying to do here.” It goes on: “Canadian women must be stopped. They’re literally the worst…….” How about this for good manners: “That woman is crude, rude, obnoxious and drunk.” Oh well, that’s to be expected from President Trump but not taken very seriously, as most other utterances should also not be taken seriously. So be it.

       Nonetheless, Trump’s rude and crude language, has been out front all the way from his inauguration. Once in office he formulated a character that may be amusing to some but is likely a grave embarrassment to most Americans. (He’s often called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” when she’s anything but.) Unfortunately, sad to say, a large element of the evangelical community still supports him, even though he’s crude and rude, and virtually never goes to a church. How conservative evangelicals still vigorously support Trump is an issue for social psychologists.

        In fact, last year, several highly credible media firms, and then professional psychologists, began to speculate on his mental fitness. One movement in that direction was taken by The New York Times, which engaged a highly qualified man named Richard Friedman, a Cornell university professor of clinical psychiatry. In the early paragraphs of his essay titled “Is it Time to Call Trump Mentally Ill,” Friedman pointed out that he was not the first psychiatrist to question Trump’s mental health. Moreover, a letter questioning the same thing, had already been published, signed by — get ready — 35 psychiatrists, along with psychologists and social workers.  (I can’t help wondering how it affected Trump especially in The New York Times!)

    Friedman was both cautious and candid which is revealed in these two sentences of his: “You can be psychiatrically ill and be perfectly competent, just as you can be mentally healthy but totally unfit. (Of course, certain mental states, like florid psychosis or dementia, would render a president unfit to serve.”) Obviously the man is very cautious, and interests me because of my own academic background but also because for many years taking a politician’s mental health to a psychiatrist was disallowed. (For example, if I’m correct, Barry Goldwater was considered for psychological examination as a Presidential candidate in the1970s, but it was dismissed on grounds of custom. Those appear to have changed.)

     As for Trump, the psychiatric and psychological findings are not favorable. They were, even to those who expect caution, straightforward with a headline in April 2017 that read: “Donald Trump has ‘dangerous mental illness’ say psychiatry experts at Yale Conference.” That was in April 2017.  The very respected group of psychiatrists described as   “several dozen mental health professionals” revealed his condition was much worse than I ever expected: that the President of the United States was – get ready – “paranoid and delusional.” That is a most serious diagnosis. It covers paranoia, schizophrenia, and as a result, also megalomania.  A member of the group, Dr. John Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who advised psychiatric patients at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, says: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump’s dangerous mental illness.”  A synopsis of the perspective in the book was discovered, and this sentence is a reasonable window on its treatment of the matter:  “The volume is aimed strictly at demonstrating that Trump shouldn’t be in office and that a panel of mental health professionals should be established to determine his lack of fitness. At the heart of many of the essays is the increasingly controversial 1973 ‘Goldwater rule’ implemented by the American Psychiatric Association, which states that psychiatrists shouldn’t diagnose public figures without personally examining them. Also frequently cited is the “Tarasoff” decision made by California in 1976, which states that psychiatrists should speak out when they know an ‘individual is dangerous to another person or persons.’”

      I have to say now that whatever is really to happen on the matter, has not yet happened. It’s a very big issue. As for me, I expect stealthy politics is currently working away to delay it or have the public forget it. But at least one interesting development has taken place. A sizable group of 27, from the many consulted psychiatrists have hastily put out a book called, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. It is written in the form of essays by the 27 psychiatrists, and while they appear written in a rush, they acknowledge the danger that existed in the Goldwater obstacle as I’ve mentioned. A reference to it says: “Trump’s mental state presents a clear and present danger to our nation and our individual well-being.”

     It seems to be still existing as an obstacle. I’m virtually certain the Trump organization wants it exactly that way. One ordinary citizen among the many who read about Trump, puts his frustration in three brief sentences: “Don’t you think that we the people have the right to question his sanity when he has his finger on the button? He can send thousands of our soldiers to die or send millions to heaven or hell. Have the stupid and uneducated taken over our world…?” The stupid. Well, well… that’s a good question sir. I guess we’ll just have to well…… wait. Just to keep you posted, sir: a man named Trump is still at the helm.



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