Is Donald Trump mentally ill? That’s what Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren wants to know, and on Friday she introduced a resolution to compel Trump to undergo a psychiatric and medical evaluation to determine his fitness to hold office. Ultimately, Lofgren claims that forcing Trump to undergo compulsory psychiatric testing could pave the way for Vice President Mike Pence and others to oust the president from office.
The little-known 25th amendment of the constitution allows the vice president and executive cabinet to remove a sitting president from office, albeit temporarily, if that president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” According to the Democratic Representative, Trump would surely fit the bill if it can be proven that he’s mentally ill.
Citing the fact that Trump has displayed an “alarming pattern” of both speech and behavior in recent weeks and months, Lofgren claims that legislators are fearful that the president might be not just mentally ill, but unfit and unable to do his job as the leader of the free world.
“President Donald J. Trump has exhibited an alarming pattern of behavior and speech causing concern that a mental disorder may have rendered him unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional duties.”
While the 1973 Goldwater Rule prohibits psychologists from publicly discussing the mental health or illness of a sitting president without first having personally examined them, Trump has been the target of mental illness-related questions for months now. As The Independent reports, in late 2016, professors from Harvard Medical School and the University of California called on then-president Barack Obama to order Trump to undergo a mental health evaluation to rule out mental illness before he was sworn in.
The psychiatrists urged Obama to demand a “full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation” of Trump before his swearing in, adding that his “grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to criticism” were red flags that led them to believe the president-elect was “unfit for office.”
None of the concerned professors of psychiatry had personally evaluated Trump.
“Professional standards do not permit us to venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally. Nevertheless, his widely reported symptoms of mental instability — including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office.”
In August of 2016, Barack Obama himself questioned whether Trump may be suffering from some form of mental illness. According to Obama, Trump’s unprovoked attack on a Gold Star family indicated that the then-candidate was “woefully unprepared to do this job.”
“There has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world because a lot of people depend on the White House getting stuff right.”
In June, 2016, Atlantic published the opinion of a prominent psychologist, who claimed that Trump is indeed mentally ill and suffering from “narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity.”
In February, dozens of psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals lent their signatures to a letter condemning Trump’s mental health and fitness to serve as president. According to that group, Donald Trump continually demonstrates “speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions,” as well as clearly showing “a profound inability to empathize.”
Other experts have publicly defended Trump against widespread allegations of mental illness. According to Duke University Professor Allen Francis, Trump may be a narcissist, but that doesn’t mean he suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
“He is bad not mad.”
Others have called out questioning the potential mental illness of President Trump as partisan politics, “name calling,” and not constructive. Even more have criticized the stigmatizing of mental illness in the context of Trump and his perceived character flaws.
“It’s making an assumption and trying to attach a stigma, and it’s not fair to people who are clearly mentally ill and aren’t bad.”
Despite the fact that his overall approval ratings have continued to plunge, even, as NBC News reports, falling below 40 percent in three of the states key to his unexpected November victory, it’s unlikely that Trump will be forced to undergo a mental health assessment anytime soon.
That’s because the resolution filed by Democratic Representative Lofgren is non-binding. The demand that Trump be screened to determine whether or not he’s mentally ill would also require the nearly-impossible-to-imagine backing of the Republican-led House.
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]