In light of Michael Wolff’s recently released book about the inner-workings of the Trump White House, there have been renewed allegations that Donald Trump is “mentally unstable” and “unfit for the duties of the presidency” (which led to the now-infamous “mentally stable genius” tweet delivered by Trump). And while it’s easy and righteous-feeling to accuse the President of being mentally unfit, due to his sometimes erratic behavior and actions, it’s a moral slippery slope. Is it right to accuse someone of mental instability or illness? Is there any legitimacy to it?
The answer: no, absolutely not. Criticize the President and his policies as much as you’d like – you’re well within your rights to do so. But attacking his mental health crosses a line. Here’s why:
1. You’re probably not a medical professional
Calling someone “crazy” is easy – especially when you are unqualified to actually diagnose anyone, or understand the actual definition of the terminology you’re using. The reality is that mental illness is a deeply complex subject matter, and only studied individuals who have dedicated their lives to mental health should be offering such diagnoses.
When non-medical professionals trained in mental health to accuse others of mental instability, it’s usually because they’re being ignorant assholes who have no idea what they’re actually talking about.
All NYC needs is the mentally unstable Elliot Spitzer in office again.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2013
2. Even if you ARE a medical professional capable of diagnosing patients with mental illness, unless you’ve personally examined President Trump, it’s inappropriate to diagnose from afar
Any legitimate psychologist would caution trying to diagnose someone from afar who did not undergo the proper examination or scrutiny – you can’t be expected to give an accurate or fair diagnosis to someone you’ve only seen on television. There’s literally a medical ethical rule (the “Goldwater Rule”) that states it is unethical for psychiatrists to diagnose public figures who they did not examine. You need to be able to observe them in a more up-close, personal nature – otherwise, you’re just trying to be name-calling dipshit.
Sorry, @Rosie is a mentally sick woman, a bully, a dummy and, above all, a loser. Other than that she is just wonderful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2014
3. Calling the President “mentally incapable” runs dangerously close to simply trying to invalidate someone because you disagree with their politics
Let’s face it – people have been calling Presidents “crazy” since…forever. No, seriously – George Washington was called “crazy”, as was prettttttty much every President who followed. And while each individual attack was likely justified in the minds of those making the accusation, it’s nearly impossible to separate any genuine concern over mental stability from partisan bias. It’s rarely “hey, I’m really concerned about the President’s mental state, folks. We should get him some help” compared to “THE PRESIDENT IS ACTING CRAZY! WE NEED TO STOP ALL THE THINGS HE’S DOING THAT I DON’T LIKE!” There’s no actual empathy – it’s nearly indistinguishable from any other partisan attack, trying to invalidate political action that you disagree with.
Luckily, this kind of lewd, dickish behavior is mostly reserved for random civilians – people IN politics would almost never resort to such a childish tactic.
I am starting to think that there is something seriously wrong with President Obama’s mental health. Why won’t he stop the flights. Psycho!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2014
4. Calling someone “crazy” or “mentally unstable” to explain (what appears to you) as erratic or scary behavior stigmatizes mental illness
When you immediately begin attacking someone’s mental acuity for behaving strangely, what you’re really doing is stigmatizing mental illness. You’re saying that behavior you don’t like falls into a broad bucket of “being crazy” – which isn’t really a thing (there are MULTITUDES of actual diagnoses). And then people who ARE actually suffering from various mental illnesses (and deserving of sympathy and kindness) are being lumped in with people you simply dislike and want to discredit. It’s ignorant, it’s lazy, and it’s unfair to those suffering through the plight of mental illness.
You’d have to be a real shitlord dumbass to say someone like that publicly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2016
5. Unless you actually care about someone’s mental wellness, you’re just name-calling
Here’s the thing – unless you’re a mental health professional who’s going to spend time with someone who you genuinely want to help, and then diagnose them in a way that will help them find treatment towards greater mental health, what are you actually doing? You just want to name call and demean someone you don’t like – since you’re not actually achieving anything more than that, and since it’s clear you have no ACTUAL interest in their mental well-being.
You’re just a petty, whiny, stupid dick who no one should listen to, ever.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2016