Just a Word

As a teenager, I spent two years in a mental hospital (ages 13 to 15). I have what people call a personality disorder which is the subject of this entire blog.

nyspiI am against President Trump as are so many. But I have one reservation about how people are speaking about him. Every time I see the words “mentally ill” or “narcissistic” or “psychopathic,” I cringe inside. I wish we could oppose his politics without this mental health jargon. Many, many people have these “disorders” without ever acting like Trump. Some people would like to actually ban psychopaths from office. Tina Taylor of No Psychos, No Druggies, No Stooges believes every candidate for high office should be subjected to a brain scan to find out if they are psychopaths. I have opposed this as prejudicial. My blog post, Testing Politicians for Psychopathy: Common Sense or Witch Hunt? presents arguments against it. Another blogger, James, also explained what was wrong with this idea in The Case against MRI Scans. Yet the crisis that Donald Trump’s presidency has created for the United States has made Tina’s idea more palatable to many people.

trump_as_narcissus_smallerThe concept of “mental illness” was used to exempt crazy people from blame when they do things they can’t help. Saying they are not bad but only “ill” looked like a humane way of dealing with these cases. The problem is that the stigma attached to criminal insanity carried over to the concept of “mental illness.” Now people sneeringly through the accusation, “You’re SICK!” at each other. Calling people “sick” didn’t free them of stigma. It made sickness stigmatized as well. In addition, the concept of “mental illness” has expanded to include all forms of psychological distress or impairment. Many people who are not psychotic and never will be are in therapy for help with issues that trouble their psyches. All these people can be technically called “mentally ill.” Certainly someone like me who has a history which includes a stay in the loony bin is so labeled.

One of the most freely misused words in the English language is “psychopath.” People thoughtlessly call anyone who does something terrible a “psychopath” although most crimes are committed by people who are no psychopaths. This sloppy use of language attaches the ugliness of each of those crimes to people who really are psychopaths. That’s unfair. Because of the stigma, most people with a mental health label, particularly psychopathy, are “in the closet.” But many blogs and web sites describe how to “spot” us, basically to “out” us.

The Problem is not Psychology. It’s Politics.

tweetingDonald Trump became president due to a multiplicity of complex causes, economic, social and political. Our country is deeply divided. There is also a severe gap between economic classes. The top 1% has more power than the rest of us and whoever is president is unduly influenced by those people. Those of us who don’t like the way Trump is running the country need to speak out loudly and clearly. But we need to speak out against his politics. Whether he is “mentally ill” or not doesn’t matter. His bad politics matter. We can condemn political malfeasance as well as heinous crime without recourse to mental illness jargon.


Links

  • Here’s what’s psychologically wrong with Donald Trump.
  • Donald Trump ranks high on Hare Psychopathy test. This page uses the word “psychopathic” and “psychotic” interchangeably. It attributes this semantic confusion to Dr. Kevin Dutton who would never talk that way. Shame on them.
  • Rae Abileah, formerly of Code Pink. A wonderful person. (No, there’s no reason to put this link here but I found it while doing this blog. She never uses psychiatric language talking about Trump. I think part of the reason some people do is to make him look like the other. So straight of them.
  • From Democracy to Pathocracy by Tina Taylor. A perfect example of psychologizing a political disagreement. The article starts with a quote from Martha Stout, “That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow…” As I explained in Free to Choose, our lack of conscience scares people because it means we are free to do anything. But that doesn’t mean will will do the worst things possible.
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4 thoughts on “Just a Word

  1. I do believe the mainstream media throws around medical jargon as if they know all and understand all. It’s ridiculous. It’s certainly a form of bullying and not worth watching. So negative.
    However saying that doesn’t change that I do also believe that President Trump is a narcissist. A lot of high level officials are. That’s how they got there. You can’t always rise to the top, worrying if you just hurt someone or treated someone unkind on your way up. Narcissist aren’t worrying about who they’re mistreating on the way up. They’re just focused on the climb, like others around them aren’t even relevant. That being said, I do not think he’ll be the best or worst president we’ve ever had. I believe he’ll most likely do some amazing things improving our economy and most likely help keep our borders safe from any dangerous individuals trying to pass through. The areas that he’ll struggle or be a complete ass about are the ones where you need to be able to have a great amount of empathy to understand, plan for, and make researched and educated choices based empathy. Like with women, he’s not one so he’d have to empathize with us to possibly grasp a small understanding of our needs.
    That was longer than I intended to write but I do agree throwing around mental disorders like its currently being done is very careless. If anything it should be brought to the surface how many mental disorders go untreated, ignored, shunned. Then therapist aren’t thought of as necessary. Then insurance issues prevent people who need care from ever getting it. Ok, off my soapbox. I’m going off subject.
    Nice article. I always enjoy your point of view as I constantly research cluster-b personality disorder. I’ll never understand all I want to. Or maybe I’m not satisfied with the answers. Either could be true.

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  2. Hi. Welcome back to my blog.

    I wasn’t denying that public officials don’t have personality disorders. I only suggest that people confine their discussions, pro or con, to the politics and not the “disorder” of people in the news.

    I don’t think Trump will be the best or the worst president either. The worst was Ronald Reagan (which I’m sure you won’t agree with). The best may have been FDR although he did some horrible things too like the concentration camps for Japanese Americans. Thanks to FDR, at least I don’t have to starve in my old age. I don’t know how people managed before the New Deal. I get the feeling you’re more conservative than I am. You think Trump will help the economy? I hope he does.

    So you research Cluster B personality disorders? Do you have any good links? I’m always looking to improve my blog.

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