The danger of speculating with the president's mental health
After the publication of various texts in which the mental stability of the president is questioned, several specialists determine the danger of speculating with psychiatric diagnoses in order to make political proselytism.
It is not the first time that writers and journalists dedicate their work to the deconstruction of political figures.
It is also not the first time that someone suggests that Donald Trump doesn’t have his head well placed over his shoulders.
But the publication of Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, is far from being a collection of memories (as was the case with Bush's press secretary, Scott McClellan) or a compilation of psychiatric diagnoses such as The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.
First of all, Wolff's book was widely mediated by the intervention of the former chief strategist of the presidential cabinet, Stephen Bannon as a character and spokesman for the collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. And in the second place, Donald Trump is the first president in initiating a legal process to avoid the publication of a text that may or may not say compromising truths about his government.
No need to read the texts to know that the behavior of the current US president is anything but presidential: impulsiveness, verbal aggressiveness, instigation of violence and comments of megalomania (especially when it comes to "nuclear buttons") have partially given the reason to those who consider that the little connection with the reality and the paranoia of which Donald Trump suffers, could be indicative of his inability to be in office.
Allen Frances, former director of the department of psychiatry at the Duke University School of Medicine - and who helped develop diagnostic standards in the profession - assured the New York Times that the president "is definitely unstable and impulsive. He is world-class narcissistic not just for our day but for the ages. You can’t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified he is to be leader of the free world. But that does not make him mentally ill.”
And it is to diagnose an individual - especially the president of the United States - from the outside, without having made an examination of rigor in this regard (that is, without evaluating him as a patient but from his attitude as a public figure) is not only subjective but could also violate the federal law.
This was explained by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman of Columbia University in New York through the Medscape research platform, for whom publicly proclaiming diagnoses and clinical opinions about the president, violates a key principle of psychiatry and our professional ethics, and moreover, risks harming the reputation of our discipline.”
Lieberman, who was an advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign on mental health - and who considers himself at odds with the policies of the current presidency - warns about the tendency of some of his colleagues to give in to “the impulse to speak out and become inclined toward activism.”
Being a supporter of the First Amendment and aware of the right of every citizen to express their opinion, Lieberman explains that this is not about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement or the rights to abortion, but it is about the delicate mental health issue of a president.
“Psychiatry possesses a greater capacity for abuse than other medical specialties because it can be exploited to bypass standard legal and governmental procedures for establishing guilt, innocence, or competence”, the specialist explains.
This leads us to recall the famous Glodwater rule, a convention of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APA) that states: "no psychologist should give an opinion on the mental state of a person who he has not examined." Barry Goldwater was a Republican presidential candidate in 1964 who saw his career frustrated by an article published in a national magazine in which 1,189 psychiatrists claimed he was psychologically unfit to be president.
The rule that became a flag within the profession in the United States now returns to make an appearance versus President Trump whom several specialists consider to suffer a "narcissistic personality."
And it is this speculation that has given false illusions to those who believe that this could be the first time that the 25th Amendment can be used to remove a president from office due to disability. But by reading the provisions of this constitutional article, it is the vice president and the presidential cabinet who have the power to put the president at the disposal of Congress, and that is highly unlikely today.
One way or another, the stigmatization of the president and the continuous attack to his mental incapacity does not solve the problem that we face: there are decisions that are being taken against the majority will of the country and to the detriment of it. Before speaking of an impeachment or a constitutional amendment we must focus on the fundamental democratic measure: the exercise of the vote, and set aside false patriotisms that disguise desperate measures.