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Trump Isn't Crazy, He's Just a Terrible Person: Leading Psychiatrist

January 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The president is more “bad than mad,” according to the man who wrote the book on personality disorders.

In an age when the current White House occupant has inspired unprecedented levels of armchair psychiatry, Allen Frances remains one of the foremost authorities in the field. As the chair of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV Task Force, he helped draft the criteria defining narcissistic personality disorder and other mental illnesses. He previously served as the chairman of the psychiatry department at Duke University School of Medicine and founded the Journal of Personality Disorders and the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. In other words, Frances knows his personality disorders.

This insight has come in handy as breathless speculation about Donald Trump’s mental state reaches fever pitch. The president’s belligerence, bellicosity and bad behavior have inspired mental health clinicians to break the Goldwater Rule—which deems diagnosis from afar unethical—and even to call for its elimination. Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee has briefed Congress on Trump’s “unraveling” and edited a book in which 27 other psychiatrists offer similar psychiatric takes. Nearly 70,000 mental health professionals have signed a petition alleging “Trump is mentally ill and must be removed.” As far back as 2015, psychologist George Simon told Vanity Fair that he had “archive[d] video clips of Trump to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of narcissistic personality disorder.

Dr. Frances, in a letter to the New York Times that got a lot a lot of attention, fervently disagreed.

Frances’s description of Trump as a man who is mentally fit but morally bankrupt deserves some turning over, in part because it doesn’t let the president off the hook. If Trump is mentally competent, that means he is responsible for the havoc he wreaks, the pain he causes and the hatred he stokes. There has to be an ultimate political reckoning for those behaviors—hopefully, one that ends with Trump not just being removed from office, but held accountable for alleged crimes and betrayals.

But what deserves further scrutiny is the discrepancy between how Frances describes Trump—whom he rightly …read more


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