Op-Ed: Donald Trump’s questionable actions raise suspicions regarding his mental health

By Nick Riebel || Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of cnn.com

I know that you may be moved by emotion, whether justified or not, to condemn or praise me for what I am about to write. Know that I write this with no joy: I do not relish the overwhelming probability that our current president likely suffers from some kind of mental illness or disorder. I say, truly, that one of the cruelest things to do to someone with mental disabilities of any sort is to be unnecessarily cruel to them in any way, and they should be given the love and support they need. But, this is an extraordinary case. This man, who I believe is not psychologically well, and likely mentally unstable, is our president, and has the power to start a nuclear war on a whim.

I urge you to know, I am not a professional psychologist, neurobiologist, or any kind of doctor who understands human biology or behavior, and only have an interest in the properties and workings of the mind. I have doctors in my family, but they do not deal with such things, only conditions of the body (arguments of the mind-body problem notwithstanding). And I know there is a general distrust, even disdain, of “armchair psychologists” attempting to “diagnose” public officials. So take my diagnosis with as large a grain of salt as you want. But I believe that Donald Trump, our president, almost certainly suffers from extreme narcissistic personality disorder.

It was my effort to be as careful as possible in my “diagnosis,” as it were, to avoid listing too many mental health issues to explain the thinking and behavior of the commander-in-chief. I chose the most obvious one, and the one with the most evidence. You could make arguments, though, that Trump also suffers from anti-social personality disorder (disregard for others, superficial charm, impulsivity, serial lying, etc.) and from a type of psychosis (loss of contact with reality, feelings of persecution and paranoia, and bizarre delusional beliefs). Others are possible, and it is well-known that multiple mental disorders may afflict a single individual. Yet, I think it is most important, at this time, to focus on Trump’s narcissism, as this is a significant problem for the nation.

Someone with narcissistic personality disorder, as one may guess, involves someone who believes that they are far more important than anyone else, and their thoughts and actions flow from this fundamental belief of their own mind. This means that Trump, if he indeed does suffer from this, feels a need for constant praise and approval, that others are utterly beneath them, and those who do not give him their blind faith are bad people, or even their enemies.

Let’s assume that Trump has not completely lost contact with reality, but that he has partially done so, due (at the very least) to his own delusions of grandeur. Speculating that the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, is dangerously incompetent, perhaps not quite in touch with reality, is awkward to discuss, even downright disturbing. But it is a conversation we need to have.

I implore you to look at his actions. Look at what he has said and done, both before and after he was sworn in as president. Do you truly believe that they come from a healthy, undamaged mind? Please, if you support Trump, in your heart, do you truly believe that he is a rational, sane man who can faithfully and fully execute the laws of our country, uphold the Constitution, and preserve our rights and security?

The possibility of Trump being authoritarian is another nerve-wracking thought. This is where much of the opposition to Trump comes from, I suspect. But that is not necessarily the result from an unhealthy mind. That Trump feels that he is literally greater than everyone and everything else, ever, that he believes that he should accrue as much power as possible (see how he has delegitimized his political opponents, the media, and the courts), and his apparent belief that he should be able to do whatever the hell he wants, should terrify any American.

And this is just a part of Trump that I have discussed. This isn’t an analysis of his ideology, his political or religious beliefs, his attitudes, or his opinions. This isn’t an investigation of his dubious activities with his Foundation, or his connections with the Russian and Chinese governments, or what exactly may be in his tax returns. This article isn’t about Trump’s politics, at least not directly.

This is an urgent appeal to you, the reader: Trump is almost certainly seriously mentally unwell in at least one way, and there is a great chance that he is mentally unstable. He has been in office less than a month, and look at the damage he has already done. And seeing what he’s like in public, what has he done behind the scenes so far?

And he still has the most powerful military in the world, the greatest technology in history, and the devastating power of our nuclear weapons. As the legendary Aeschylus once said, “time brings all things to pass.”

Senior Nick Riebel is a staff writer. His email is nriebel@fandm.edu.

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