Society

Democratic Lawmakers Question Trump’s Mental Health

| by Robert Fowler

Two Democratic lawmakers are calling for new measures to either monitor or remove President Donald Trump, asserting that he has poor mental health. While some members of the psychiatric community have expressed concerns about the president's mental well-being, others view the accusations to be a gross politicization of mental-illness.

Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon has proposed a review of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to broaden authority to remove a president from office if they are deemed mentally unfit. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California is slated to introduce legislation that would install a presidential psychologist, The Hill reports.

Blumenauer cited instances of Trump issuing factually untrue statements, such as when he asserted that the rain during his inauguration dissipated when he gave his address, despite video evidence of the contrary.

"I don't know anybody in a position of responsibility that doesn't know if they're being rained on," Blumenauer said. "And nobody I work with serially offers up verifiably false statements on an ongoing basis."

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The Oregon lawmaker has proposed a working group to review the 25th Amendment, which sets guidelines for removing a president if they are unfit for office. Currently, the amendment mandates that the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members must agree that the president is unfit for removal, but Blumenauer would like to expand that discretion to include former presidents and vice presidents, as well.

Lieu has asserted that a psychologist in the White House is necessary because he believes that Trump exhibits erratic behavior.

"I think it is a legitimate issue to raise. ... Anyone who can launch 4,000 nuclear weapons in minutes absolutely should be questioned on any matter to their physical and mental health," Lieu said.

GOP lawmakers have voiced skepticism in response to their Democratic colleagues' questioning of the president's mental health.

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"I think that's a stretch," said Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho. He added that questioning Trump's judgment is "a different story. The behavior is somewhat disturbing."

On Feb. 12, Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota asserted that several of his Republican colleagues had privately expressed misgivings about Trump's mental health. Franken said that he was troubled by Trump repeatedly stating disprovable things, such as his unsubstantiated assertion that 3 to 5 million illegal voters had cost him the popular vote.

"That is not the norm for a president of the United States or actually for a human being," Franken told CNN.

Mental health professionals are ethically bound not to offer a diagnosis of public figures who they have not personally evaluated. This precedent was started after dozens of psychiatrists deemed former Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater mentally ill during his campaign in the 1964 presidential election. Goldwater sued, prompting the American Psychiatric Association to codify the Goldwater Rule in 1973, which ethically forbids psychiatrists from diagnosing mental illness without personally examining a person.

Psychologist Joshua Miller of the University of Georgia believes that questioning Trump's mental health is irresponsible.

"I think the politicization is troubling," Miller said. "We certainly wouldn't want individuals to use mental illness as weapon to harm others."

Several psychiatrists have suggested that Trump is a malignant narcissist. On Feb. 14, Professor Allen Frances of Duke University Medical College, who wrote the criteria for the disorder, blasted that diagnosis.

"[Trump] may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn't make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder," Frances wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.

"It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither)," Frances added.

Sources: CNN/YouTubeThe Hill, The New York Times (2) / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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