Everywhere I turn, it seems, someone is calling the current United States presidential administration “crazy” or “insane.”
Do you not realize that these are slurs along the lines of The R Word? Do you not realize that everything I have ever said about the R Word applies to the C word and the I word as well? Using words that describe vulnerable populations to describe the actions of those who are not members of that population who are engaging in behavior that displeases or distresses you is the verbal equivalent of picking up a disabled person to use them as a bludgeon. You’re not likely to hurt your target but you are crushing those of us who become your lazy go-to when you can’t find the words you really want.
“But wait!” someone always responds. “You don’t understand! He really is crazy! He’s got Narcissistic Personality Disorder! A psychology professor said so!”
First off, that professor was behaving unethically if they diagnosed Donald Trump without even meeting him. There is a rule in the psychiatric professions called the Goldwater Rule, so called because it arose after similar speculations were made about Goldwater. Section 7.3 of the APA Code of Ethics says:
On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.
That means that it is unethical for a professional to announce a diagnosis of Donald Trump. And if you are not a professional, you are not qualified to diagnose Donald Trump. The only people qualified to determine if a person has a psychiatric disability are trained professionals and the individual themselves. Furthermore, revealing a person’s diagnosis without their explicit permission is a violation of HIPAA regulations specifically and a violation of privacy in general. No one has the right to disclose another person’s medical information without their consent.
Secondly, if someone you view as having authority has told you that Donald Trump has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) (or if you have taken it upon yourself to lay-diagnose him as such), you are wrong. The doctor who wrote the diagnostic criteria for NPD has publicly stated that Donald Trump does not meet the criteria. Dr. Frances goes a step further and explains why these casual lay-diagnoses of public figures are so harmful. You really should read his words: This Doctor Nailed The Problem With Diagnosing Donald Trump With Mental Illness.
I have even seen some people suggesting we “push for Trump to submit to psychiatric evaluation.” Forcing psychiatry on an unwilling person is the height of human rights violations. I never thought I’d find myself in the position of defending and protecting Donald Trump, but society has put me here by insisting that the basic human rights we hold so dear do not apply to him. Call him evil, call him authoritarian, call him a fascist …. but do not suspend his human rights unless you are willing to see your own human rights suspended next.