From the time he first announced his candidacy to his recent acceptance of the official Republican Party nomination, Donald Trump’s behavior has been erratic at best. Questions about Trump’s mental health in relation to his behavior have floated around throughout his campaign, but in recent weeks they seem to have come to a head.
It is one thing for those who oppose Trump — such as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg — to make comments about his sanity. However, many medical professionals have also made statements in favor of these claims. While they’ve stopped short of actually offering up a clinical diagnosis, psychologists seem to agree that Trump exhibits many personality characteristics that indicate narcissistic tendencies.
Narcissistic personality disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a “mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.” It seems that Trump’s behavior fits these descriptors. The Mayo Clinic adds, though, that there is more to the disorder. “But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
Dan McAdams, who is a psychology professor at Northwestern University, wrote in a personality assessment that he conducted of Trump, “I don’t want to argue that it’s a clinical condition … but if there’s a continuum, in terms of narcissistic personality characteristics within a relatively normal population, he’s really way off on the extreme end.”
Another psychology professor, Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University, made it clear that, in his expert opinion, Donald Trump is not insane. However, Lilienfeld did note that it is important for voters to ask whether they think someone with a personality like Trump’s — regardless of clinical diagnosis — is fitting for the position of Commander-in-Chief.
‘I don’t think he’s out of touch with reality, I think he knows what he’s doing, he probably doesn’t hear voices or have delusional thinking.’
Lilienfeld suggested voters ask themselves:
‘Is this individual’s narcissism so high that it might be at the upper end of the curve where it’s no longer just healthy self-confidence, which is probably good to some degree, or is it at the point where it could really cause problems?’
Remarks on Trump’s narcissism have floated around for quite some time. In November 2015, Vanity Fair published a story in which several psychologists called Trump “Remarkably narcissistic” and said that he displayed “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder.”
Clinical psychologist George Simon said, “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics. Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”
We do not have a clinical diagnosis of Trump, and we will likely never get one. As The Star points out, “U.S. psychiatrists are now prohibited by their professional association from publicly assessing public figures.”
However, there is plenty to criticize about Trump without resorting to calling him crazy, insane, or any of the other names that are tossed around by the media or were used at the Democratic National Convention.
David Perry, a disability rights journalist, told The Star, “the casual association of behavior we find objectionable or erratic with mental illness spreads stigma.”
Perry continued, backing up the point that, with or without a diagnosis, Trump is a poor choice for president.
‘He’s a liar, he’s a bigot, he makes bad decisions, he’s erratic and unpredictable. That’s what we need to know. Do we need to then extend a diagnosis to go along with that, to make it really objectionable?’
Featured image via Getty.