Should We Give Credence to Psychiatrists’ Views of Trump’s Mental Health?

Most psychiatrists are reluctant to divulge their views of Donald Trump’s mental health. Their reluctance stems from an American Psychiatric Association directive knows as the Goldwater Rule, which declares that it is “unethical and irresponsible” for a psychiatrist to comment on the mental health of “someone they have not personally evaluated.” The rule was established after almost half of psychiatrists who responded to a query about 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s mental health stated that he was unfit to be president.

 During this election, a number of psychiatrists have violated that rule by declaring that Donald Trump has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a mental disease associated with traits including an exaggerated sense of self-importance, requiring constant admiration, taking advantage of others, a sense of entitlement, and displaying arrogance. Those characteristics seem to fit Donald Trump to a T.

Given the Goldwater Rule, should we pay attention to those psychiatrists who diagnose Donald Trump with Narcissistic Personality Disorder without having examined him? If any psychiatrists had personally examined Donald Trump, they would be bound to secrecy by doctor-patient confidentiality. Moreover, given the insecurity that lurks behind Donald Trump’s public facade, it seems unlikely that he would ever consent to a mental assessment.

The methods of diagnosing mental health have changed substantially since the late Barry Goldwater ran for president. Many psychiatric diagnoses are now made by observing a person’s behavior and drawing inferences of the person’s mental health from the observations. Donald Trump is a very public figure who has given observers a plethora of data from which to draw conclusions about his mental health, and no one that I am aware of with academic credentials in the field of mental health has judged Donald Trump to be sane.

There is nothing in the United States Constitution to prevent a loco from running for president. Donald Trump has every legal right to pursue his campaign. However, voters also have every right to expect that their president be sane.

Apart from questions about Donald Trump’s sanity, there are other reasons why voters should be terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. He shows a sever lack of interest in learning, much more severe than that of former president George W. Bush, whose presidency is generally regarded as a disaster.

Donald Trump also has a strong disposition to retaliate against people who disagree with him. If elected, he has promised to send Hillary Clinton to prison, apparently just for having the temerity to challenge him in the presidential campaign. Despite many ungrounded accusations, there is no public credible evidence that Hillary Clinton has ever done anything illegal.

In his business campaign, Donald Trump has broken promise after promise and contract after contract. He has repeatedly committed fraud including tax fraud. Anyone who thinks that any of Donald Trump’s campaign promises have any validity whatsoever must be living in a vacuum.

Those who have not yet cast their ballots should think carefully before casting their ballots. Despite their visceral dislike for Hillary Clinton, do those who intend to vote for Donald Trump realize the consequences of electing a president who has mental health issues? Do they know that electing a president who is dis-likeable will have substantially fewer negative consequences than electing Donald Trump, who is a proven fraudster?  I hope so. We should find out on Tuesday.

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