There’s been a lot of speculation about the President’s mental health.
Practising pyschotherapist John D Gartner told US News that Trump “is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.”
Gartner acknowledges that he has not personally examined Trump, but says it’s obvious from Trump’s behavior that he meets the diagnostic criteria for malignant narcissism, which include anti-social behavior, sadism, aggressiveness, paranoia and grandiosity. Trump’s personality disorder (which includes hypomania) is also displayed through a lack of impulse control and empathy, and “a feeling that people … don’t recognize their greatness.
Another psychotherapist Leah McElrath says the president is a psychopath showing symptoms of glibness and superficiality, egocentricity and grandiosity, lack of remorse or guilt about the impact of their behaviour on others, absence of empathy, deceitfulness and manipulativeness, and shallowness of emotions.
Probably the most out there speculation has come from infectious diseases specialist Dr. Steven Beutler who suggests the president might have neurosyphilis. Symptoms include irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur
Psychiatrists have called for a neuropsychiatric review of Trump
The reality is this sort of speculation is a disservice to psychology. Psychiatrists make a diagnosis after looking at a patient’s sleep and appetite and energy and thinking, stuff not shared in brief news snippets. And that has not been done.
It’s a point raised by Alan Francis, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical College, was chairman of the task force that wrote the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV.
As Francis writes in his letter to the New York Times:
“Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled President Trump with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. 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 distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.
“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 behaviour 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 analysing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.”