A NUMBER of those working closely with U.S. President Trump called him behind his back a “moron,” “idiot,” “crazy and stupid” -- including a treasury secretary, a national security adviser, and a chief of staff -- and now publicly disclosed in spectacular fashion: a tell-all, salacious, tabloid-spirited book by a writer who had free access to the White House.
But sources of the opinions in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” on Trump’s mental condition are no medical diagnosis. They are close aides holding key positions who watch Trump up close, skilled in other disciplines but not in psychiatry.
Trump’s trusted people said he was crazy or stupid. Perhaps they were merely giving vent to some frustration or anger that Trump “doesn’t read” or “has the expectations and tantrums of a child.” Or they were just bitching about the boss whom they blamed for the disarray in the White House during its first year.
Even full-pledged psychiatrists cannot, or do not, make assessments of any public official from afar, without personally examining the person. They call it the Goldwater Rule in the U.S., named after Barry Goldwater whom a number of psychiatrists said was unfit to run for president in 1964.
Last March, however, a leaked email said the American Psychoanalytic Association (APA) told its members their comment on political matters is not considered unethical, in effect a revision of the Goldwater rule.
But judging Trump’s mental condition seems to have become a “parlor game” in the U.S. since the primaries when he joined Rpublican presidential aspirants in the race to the White House. When the “Fire and Fury” book appeared, the guessing game turned into a serious offensive on his fitness to hold the position of president.
This time, his critics want mental disorder to set off the procedure that would remove him from the White House. The U.S. Constitution, however, requires the vice president Mike Spence to initiate the process in the Cabinet. Would the faithful and docile Spence even think about it?
It won’t need medical training and expertise though to judge Trump’s behavior. His actions and statements tend to confirm the picture that Wolff’s book presents: a president who might be unfit in his job and dangerous to his country and the world.
But, Dr. Allen Frances who wrote the APA guidelines, cautions against calling it mental illness. Call it narcissistic, childish, dangerous or anything else but not mental disorder. That stigmatizes the mentally ill, he says.
Trump whom his own staffers suspect as nuts insists he is not only smart but a genius. Earlier, he challenged his own secretary of state, who had called Trump a “moron,” to an I.Q. test competition. And what president, unless somewhat unhinged, would boast he is a stable genius?
Expect the next weeks and months for Trump to behave more rationally or to appear rational to the public. He might work harder to fit into the mold of mental prowess he advertises of himself.
Or the same regular bizarre acts and words of the U.S. president may continue and fuel more questions about the man’s mental condition.