Talking Trump and mental health
Los Angeles Times – February 19, 2017
Robin Abcarian, a renowned psychiatrist who “wrote the criteria that defined narcissistic personality disorder”, discusses the condition of our (perhaps) crazy president, which has become the subject of fierce public debate.
He is self-absorbed, unabashed about repeating falsehoods, and rude. He doesn’t listen to questions before launching into misguided tirades. He thought a reporter from a Jewish newspaper had accused him of anti-Semitism when the poor guy went out of his way to do the opposite.
On Tuesday, the New York Times published a letter signed by 35 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers accusing the president of “grave emotional instability” that makes him “incapable of serving safely as president.” Though it is considered a breach of ethics to evaluate or diagnose public figures, they wrote, “We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer.”
“Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled President Trump with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder,” wrote Frances. I wrote the criteria that define this disorder, and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them. He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill because he does not suffer from the stress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.” (Trump isn’t crazy; he makes other people crazy.)
“He can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers,” Frances wrote. But, he added, “The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.”
“Most mentally ill people are nice, they’re well mannered, they are decent, they are unselfish, they are good people,” Frances said. “Trump is none of these. When you lump someone who is bad with people who have mental illness, it stigmatizes the mentally ill population. Less an insult to him and more an insult to them.”
Personally, I have no problem with mental health professionals making judgments about a president whose behavior does seem erratic and who also has the power to blow up the world.
Of course, we can’t forget about the swath of Americans who are delighted by Trump’s unpredictability and his follow-through, constitutional or not, on promises to keep “bad hombres” out of the country. They’ll probably come to their senses eventually. But we all may be speaking Russian by then.