The topic of Donald Trump’s mental health has been a pressing concern, since long before Election Day 2016. During the campaign, Hillary Clinton obliquely hinted to it when continuously discussing his “temperament” and mental fitness for the highest office in the land. Now that the Trump presidency is 149 days in, more and more people weigh in on his mental health every day, from mental health experts to his own voters.
The L.A. Times recently printed a piece from a Chicago psychiatrist outlining an argument that Trump’s mental health is a very pressing concern. The article begins with an explanation of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the removal of a president if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office.
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment can be invoked for a variety of reasons, if the president is having surgery, becomes very ill, or is deemed mentally unfit. An official diagnosis does not need to be established to invoke the 25th. All that is needed to invoke the 25th is a majority consensus among the president’s Cabinet and the Vice President.
The Vice President of the United States can also be removed under the same amendment.
While Donald Trump will balk at the very suggestion he is mentally unsound, he will not hesitate to mock those with actual disabilities, and once mocked both the press and the disabled in one fell swoop. This is generally not behavior that falls under the list of presidential traits, or even, traits of a good leader. It also does not fall under the category of “mentally sound” behavior.
Psychiatrist Prudence Gourguechon wrote the following for the L.A. Times.
“I believe we need a rational, thorough, and coherent definition of the mental capacities required to carry out the powers and duties of the presidency.”
She refers to the United States Army’s “Field Manual 6-22 Leader Development” to establish what makes a good leader, and argues that Donald Trump does not possess those qualities. She outlines five critical qualities a leader must have, that Donald Trump does not. They are trust, discipline and self-control, judgment and critical thinking, self-awareness, and empathy.
A leader that is capable of trust, demonstrates other people’s views, and one that is not is aloof and isolated. When it comes to discipline and self-control, the Army values handbook says that a disciplined leader does not have an emotional outburst or act impulsively. It is frequently argued that Donald Trump’s Twitter usage is impulsive.
Self-awareness is another key trait that is identified in the Army handbook as a key leadership quality. The L.A. Times writes that the manual says the following.
“When a leader lacks self-awareness, he unfairly blames subordinates when failures are experienced, and rejects or lacks interest in feedback.”
The Toronto Star recently noted a conversation that Donald Trump had in the Oval Office upon the firing of James Comey, that characterizes this lack of self-awareness.
“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The Toronto Star notes the report was not disputed by the White House. Trump’s character traits have led many to protest against him, and call him an embarrassment to America.
The United States Army manual on leadership also notes that empathy is a key quality in a great leader. Empathy in the manual is defined as, “Demonstrates an understanding of another person’s point of view…identifies with others’ feelings and emotions.”
Conversely, the manual states that a leader without that trait, “shows lack of concern for others’ emotional distress, displays an inability to take another’s perspective.” The L.A. Times piece says this Army manual “amounts to a guide for the 25th Amendment.”
It’s not the first time that Trump’s mental health has been criticized. As Vanity Fair notes, a variety of media professionals have also weighed in on the topic of Trump’s mental health. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann calls Donald Trump a “sick puppy.” MSNBC host for Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, says, “This is unfortunately not a learning curve. This is a man in decline.”
Carl Bernstein, of the famous Woodward and Bernstein duo that uncovered the Watergate scandal, echoed similar sentiments to CNN. He agrees that the president is mentally unfit, and says, he’s even talked to Republicans that say the same thing.
“We have many reporters, myself included, who have talked to numerous people, Republicans on Capitol Hill, who in private will tell you they doubt the stability of this president.”
Indeed, in August 2016 during the election campaign, the New York Times reported on 50 GOP officials who had signed a letter saying they were concerned that Trump was unfit to serve. Among other things, the letter said the following.
“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander in chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
The letter also noted traits that the authors noted Trump lacked, that echo the sentiments required for a leader in the United States Army manual. The letter, authored by 50 GOP national security and foreign policy experts stated the following as well.
“From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being…Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of press, and an independent judiciary.”
Since taking office, Trump has attacked the free press, and the judiciary, and in so doing the U.S. Constitution. All concerns that the authors of this letter had have since come true, in 149 days.
The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2017
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
Donald Trump’s travel ban has been overturned, the decisions of the judges that did so have not. Additionally, Donald Trump’s claims about the firing of FBI Director James Comey have led to frequent discussions of an obstruction of justice investigation. Donald Trump calls this a witch hunt.
While Donald Trump’s own mental health is under question, he is not afraid to turn the tables on anyone else. He has even called Senator Ted Cruz a liar and a wacko. He also called Bernie Sanders allies wacko.
Wow, Lyin' Ted Cruz really went wacko today. Made all sorts of crazy charges. Can't function under pressure - not very presidential. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2016
Strange, but I see wacko Bernie Sanders allies coming over to me because I'm lowering taxes, while he will double & triple them, a disaster!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2015
Not only are experts weighing in on Trump’s mental health, but so too are his own voters. A Twitter search on the phrase, “I voted for you but…” reveals that some of his own voters are starting to use the word “crazy.” One tweeted to Donald Trump, “Come on. Control yourself. You CANNOT throw Sessions under the bus. I voted for you but it makes you look crazy. Focus.”
Another referred to his Twitter use, “I voted for you but if you think your use of Twitter helps you advance America’s agenda, your crazy!” A liberal that voted for Donald Trump referred to the entire party as crazy, “Liberal that voted for you but not this crazy Rep Party. I am seriously going to vote for Dems in 2018 and 2020.” What is your personal impression of Trump’s mental health? How do you respond to images like the one where he mocks a disabled reporter?
[Feature Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]