Is Donald Trump giving mental illness a bad name?

trumpA group of mental health professionals, calling themselves “Duty to Warn,” (@duty2warn on twitter) has gathered 60,000 signatures from mental health professionals calling for Trump’s removal from office due to serious mental illness.The petition states:

“We, the undersigned mental health professionals (please state your degree), believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States. And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 4 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Duty to Warn’s goal is to collect 75,000 signatures by October, when they plan to hold town meetings all over the U.S. to address Trump’s mental competency to continue as president.

There are two important words missing from the petition: undiagnosed and untreated.

A mental illness—even a “serious” one– does not, by itself, make a person incapable of performing their job. I have suffered with depression and anxiety and have enjoyed a very successful career as an international trade attorney, journalist, and marketing executive, thank you very much.

I don’t disagree with 60,000-plus mental health professionals and (bias alert!) I have no problem whatsoever with removing Trump from office. I believe there is something extremely disturbing about the man’s behavior. But please let’s not leave the world with the impression that mental illness means, ipso facto, you can’t perform a difficult job.

To learn more about Duty to Warn, visit their website .

3 thoughts on “Is Donald Trump giving mental illness a bad name?

  1. As an early member of Duty to Warn, I expressed my belief we should have used a term such as psychopathology, severe mental disturbance, or psychological disorder rather than “illness”. The latter brings to mind such conditions as depression and anxiety which in no way automatically disqualifies someone from doing a job. Abraham Lincoln is proof of that. However, the scope of disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is very broad, and its use is not always limited to considering a course of treatment. John Gartner, Ph.D. founder of D. to W. calls Donald a “Malignant Narcissist”. This term first used by Erich Fromm is generally considered to be a type of “Psychopathy”. A diagnosis of Psychopathy does by definition, disqualify a person for the job of President of the United States.

    World expert on the condition, Robert Hare says, “‘These were particularly interesting human beings. Everything about them seemed to be paradoxical. They could do things that a lot of other people could not do’ — lie, steal, rape, murder — ‘but they looked perfectly normal, and when you talked to them they seemed okay.’ …they’re natural predators. …Psychopaths love chaos and hate rules, so they’re comfortable in the fast-moving modern corporation. …[Colleague] Babiak says psychopaths have three motivations: thrill-seeking, the pathological desire to win, and the inclination to hurt people.” (Hercz, 2001). From an article used in the training of FBI agents– “Interrogators should remain aware of the psychopath’s nonverbal skills—body language and facial expressions that create displays of sincerity—used for deceit in the interview room. Psychopaths are master manipulators who have fooled many professionals.” (Woodworth, et al., 2012).

    For those that doubt we should be considering the possibility that our president indeed meets criteria for such a diagnosis, I would suggest a thorough review of the Alternative Models for Personality Disorders in the DSM-5. “AntiSocial Personality Disorder with Psychopathic Features” is outlined on pages 761-5. For those doubting such an individual would be incompetent to serve, I recommend Dr. Gourguechon’s excellent OpEd in the LA Times in which she spells out how he stacks up to the Army’s guidelines on leadership requirements.

    In short, Duty to Warn’s use of the term mental illness has nothing to do with the millions of people who struggle with these issues everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and explanation. I do think that using the term “mental Illness” in a petition seeking to remove the president from office perpetuates the stigma. A diagnosis of psychopathy would have been better but I am guessing the use of the broader term had something to do with legal/ethical issues, namely not running afoul of the Goldwater Rule. It’s just a shame that in trying to do good (and believe me, removing Trump from office, in my opinion, is good!), tens of thousands of professionals dedicated to helping and protecting the mentally ill are actually doing us harm. Words matter. #endthestigma

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mauricio Navarro

    I would recommend the president to visit Charter Hospital of Miami (is it still operating?). With a billfold like his (the president´s), he´ll get admitted real quick.and we´ll breathe easier.


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