Dr. John Gartner, a psychologist at John Hopkins for 20 years, who now practices privately in New York City, warned during an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday night that Donald Trump exhibits clear signs of mental illness and that it makes him unfit to be president and to handle the country’s nuclear codes.
Gartner recently started a petition on Change.org that has reportedly accumulated the assenting signatures of tens of thousands of mental health professionals.
“We, the undersigned mental health professionals (please state your degree), believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States. And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 3 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.'”
In Gartner’s professional opinion, Trump is a “paranoid, psychopathic narcissist who is divorced from reality.” His mental condition makes him a dangerous person to have as executive president of the country.
“If we could construct a psychiatric Frankenstein monster, we could not create a leader more dangerously mentally ill than Donald Trump,” Gartner told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell. “He is a paranoid, psychopathic, narcissist who is divorced from reality and lashes out impulsively at his imagined enemies. And this is someone, as you said, who is handling the nuclear codes.”
Gartner made similar observations in an interview with Forbes’ Emily Willingham. He argued that although a mental health issue does not automatically disqualify a person from being president, Trump’s case was different.
“From a psychiatric point of view [Trump’s case] is the absolute worst-case scenario,” he told Forbes. “If I were to take the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and try to create a Frankenstein’s monster of the most dangerous and destructive leader and had freedom to create any combination of diagnosis and symptoms, [Trump would be the result.]”
According to Gartner, Trump is not merely a narcissist, he suffers from a worse condition termed malignant narcissism, coined originally to capture the essence of Adolf Hitler’s alleged mental illness.
Malignant narcissism is a non-official mental health diagnosis that is a mixture of narcissism, paranoia, anti-social personality disorder and sadism.
He responded on MSNBC to the question whether he was breaking the ethical code of his profession by diagnosing Trump without having interviewed him. He insisted that Trump’s case was exceptional and that it would be unethical for mental health professionals who recognize the symptoms of mental ill-health from having observed Trump’s behavior in public not to speak out and warn the public.
There is ample evidence that Trump is mentally ill, according to Gartner. Mental health experts have a responsibility to point out the fact; they have a “duty to warn that is more important than any other ethical consideration,” he argued.
“We have tons of information about his behavior, his words… we have so much information that it is screamingly obvious that he meets these diagnostic criteria [for malignant narcissism].
“I would argue that those mental health professionals who don’t speak up are being unethical.”
“I would argue to my colleagues that those who don’t speak out are being unethical,” Gartner said. “If we have some knowledge and understanding about the unique danger that Donald Trump presents through our psychiatric training and don’t say something about it, history is not going to judge us kindly.”
Another mental health professional, Dr Lance Dodes, agreed with Gartner. He warned about the potentially serious consequences of ignoring warnings by multiple health professionals about a man holding the highest office in the country.
“He [Trump] lies because of his sociopathic tendencies that Dr Gartner was talking about,” Dodes said. “He lies in the way anybody who scams people does. There is also the kind of lie he has that in a way is more serious — that he has a loose grip on reality. We can say that because he lies about things that aren’t that important.”
“I think what that indicates is that he can’t stand an aspect of reality that he doesn’t want, so he rejects it,” Dodes added.
“His grasp of reality, his attention to reality is loose. This is an extremely dangerous trait in a president. It actually makes him unqualified.”
Gartner is not the first mental health professional to declare publicly, in defiance of the so-called “Goldwater Rule,” that Trump shows clear clinical signs of mental illness. Thirty-five mental health professionals signed a letter published in the New York Times, expressing grave concerns about Trump’s mental state. Gartner only echoed the views of the 35 professionals when he argued that professionals need to speak out despite the “Goldwater Rule” that discourages mental health professionals, specifically psychiatrists (the rule does not apply to psychologists like Gartner), from diagnosing public figures from a distance.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]