Diagnosing Trump With a Mental Illness

Should health professionals diagnose celebrities from afar? Posted Jan 05, 2021

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

In this post, I explore the issue of diagnosing public figures. I use the example of discussions regarding the mental health of Donald Trump; though his presidency is ending, Trump’s mental health and character remain a hot topic.

Historically, people have questioned the mental health of many celebrities and public figures (e.g., Princess Diana, Britney Spears, Winston Churchill, Carrie Fisher, Robin Williams, Genghis Khan).

They have judged the character of not only those who have spoken of being ill but also those who have shown odd or inappropriate behavior and those accused of incompetence or being a danger to the public.

But perhaps even a knowledgeable public can not be expected to provide an unbiased opinion regarding the mental health of such figures; after all, people’s opinions are shaped by their ideologies, especially regarding polarizing public figures like Trump.

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What about health experts? For example, when psychiatrist Jerrold Post diagnosed Saddam Hussein (whom he had never met) as a “malignant narcissist,” was this a professional opinion based on unbiased evidence?

If so, then one would imagine that these days health experts have access to a lot more information if they choose to evaluate the temperament, personality, and mental health of Donald Trump.

And countless experts have already done so:

They have commented on Trump’s alleged paranoid, sadistic, and psychopathic tendencies; diagnosed him with narcissistic personality disorder; and suggested he might suffer from neurological conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Naturally, many have questioned his fitness to serve as the President of the United States.

Over 70,000 health professionals even signed a petition, saying “Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.”

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