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No diagnosis can be conclusive based solely on a public persona

Someone's public persona is not always indicative of their internal mental health.

Proponents

Context

Nobody can be diagnosed from a mental health professional from afar without a one-on-one evaluation. Not only can this lead to an inaccurate diagnosis, it is ethically wrong and potentially harmful to those who suffer from mental illness.

The Argument

Assessing Donald Trump's mental health from afar and concluding that he is suffering from a mental illness is damaging for three reasons. Firstly, there is no way of seeing the full picture without a one-on-one assessment. Mental health professionals carry out an examination with an understanding of the emotional stresses an individual is under and the upheaval present in their personal lives. Without this understanding, it is impossible to give an accurate assessment.[1] An underlying cause for Trump's narcissism, like a bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, could be present. But these may be missed or wrongly diagnosed without a comprehensive face-to-face assessment.[2] Secondly, from a mental health perspective, giving the president the label of mentally ill without thorough testing is damaging to patients already suffering from mental illness. Using it as a political weapon against him fuels stigma around mental illnesses. Senators like Lindsey Graham who called Trump a "kook", are adding to the negative attitudes towards mental illness. With a clear diagnosis, public figures would likely move from seeing Trump's mental state as a weakness, to a source of sympathy. Without a diagnosis, it will remain a derogatory channel of attack, which is very damaging to patients suffering from mental health disorders.[3] Finally, without an evaluation and a conclusive test, Trump and the Republican party can brush mental illness as partisan bias. This is damaging for the mental health field as a whole. Belittling mental health and reducing diagnoses to the realm of political bias undermines the field. Therefore, it is in the scientific communities interests to refrain from offering a public diagnosis of Trump without a comprehensive, one-on-one evaluation.

Counter arguments

Counter: Trump is Not Mentally Ill Trump has now had two medical assessments since entering office. He has also taken a cognitive assessment. In the reports that followed the assessment, the doctors categorically asserted that he is in good mental and physical health. Trump has had a one-on-one assessment. The results were conclusive: he is not mentally ill. Therefore, we should be able to say with confidence that Trump is mentally ill. Counter: Trump Might be Mentally Ill Just because they haven't had a one-on-one examination with Trump doesn't mean mental health experts shouldn't offer their professional opinion if they suspect something is amiss. Although the three dangers of diagnosing the president from afar are very real, the danger that someone with a potential mental illness has access to the US nuclear codes far outweighs them. If any psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health expert suspects something is amiss, they have the civic duty to speak out because the danger of not doing so could be catastrophic not just for the US but for the whole world.

Premises

[P1] Nobody can receive an accurate diagnosis without a one-on-one professional examination. [P2] Therefore, Trump may or may not be mentally ill.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Trump has had a mental evaluation. It said he categorically is not mentally ill. [Rejecting P1] They may not be able to offer a full diagnosis, but mental health professionals should speak out if they suspect something is amiss.

References

  1. https://www.statnews.com/2017/05/23/donald-trump-speaking-style-interviews/
  2. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/10/14551890/trump-mental-health-narcissistic-personality
  3. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/01/trump-cog-decline/548759/

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 2 Apr 2019 at 17:18 UTC