President Donald Trump. I get it; passions are running high and that is just on the cable news networks. High passion, however, is no reason for psychologists to forget our ethics and common sense.
For example, Dr. Steven Hessler wrote in his March, 2016 letter to the editor “I never imagined that my Ph.D. in clinical psychology would prove helpful in selecting a presidential candidate. But this year is different. This year we have a candidate who has a genuine mental disorder. Google DSM IV 301.81.” While perhaps he can be forgiven for not yet making the switch to DSM-5, Dr. Hessler can’t be forgiven for making a diagnosis of Dr. Trump in a public arena, particularly since he presumably has not evaluated Mr. Trump nor would he have a release to discuss what would be confidential information between the two if they had had a doctor-patient relationship. In this instance, Dr. Hessler is also using a DSM diagnosis as a negative label to bring shame on another person, and frankly it just isn’t cool to use mental disorders as stigmatizing epithets. Dr. Hessler wrote to the editor “I urge the American electorate to educate itself about psycho-pathological narcissism before it is too late,” however I believe actions like his do more harm than good. They do more harm politically by contributing to an atmosphere of us-against them name-calling, and they of course do significant harm to the public’s view of psychologists and our ethics.
Dr. Hessler isn’t a lone case though. Heck, APA President Susan McDaniel had an Op Ed published in the NY Times in regards to their article “Should Therapists Diagnose Presidential Candidates?”
Hey, and here in Vanity Fair apparently therapists “weigh in” on whether Mr. Trump is a narcissist. Another example can be found here with the NY Times. You can hear about Trump Psychology on Dr. Drew. Apparently we can also take the word of a neuroscientist who explains that Trump has a mental disorder which makes him “dangerous,” because “according to a number of top U.S. psychologists, like Harvard professor and researcher Howard Gardner, Donald Trump is a “textbook” narcissist”
Let’s also not forget the Huffington Post. (Is Donald Trump A Narcissist — Or A Bully? Here’s What Psychologists Say)
Time would like to help you discover what Mr. Trump can teach you about the narcissists in your life.
According to a blog post on Psychology Today “Therapists Confirm Trump’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder” or on another Psychology Today blog you could find a “psychosocial analysis” of him.
Apparently, in relation to “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” the “diagnosable disease… Trump would doubtless say it was created in his honor.”
Perhaps he’s just a “con artist,” like this non-psychological science reference to that fact on the Association for Psychological Science’s website which links to an article quoting a psychologist.
And hey, why stop there when you can border on diagnosing Mr. Trump’s supporters? “Authoritarian personality, a mentality closely associated with fascism and even nazism, plays a strong factor in the support for Donald Trump, according to some researchers. While many political experts have struggled to explain the electoral success of Trump in the Republican primary, researchers like University of Massachusetts, Amherst Ph.D. candidate Matthew MacWilliams have taken a psychological approach.”
The Washington Post gave us “I asked psychologists to analyze Trump supporters, this is what I learned.”
And apparently we can’t overlook things like Stockholm Syndrome and cycles of abuse.
If you Google Psychology and Trump together you’ll see a wide internet sea of articles with this just being a sample; and of course, you don’t have to be a psychologist to google articles or use the term psychology. The Twisted Psychology that explains Donald Trump’s appeal notes that “Nobody needs a psychology degree to know the 2016 presidential campaign trail is filled with genuine narcissists.”
Is this a special case with just potential President Donald Trump? Nope, apparently some psychologists are ok with pushing the ethical boundaries as “celebrity psychologists” when they talk to the media. They may perhaps give a quick disclaimer about what they’re about to say and then deliver the goods that reporters want to print anyway. Whenever a news story happens they’re happy to not just accept the reporter’s phone calls to talk specifically about a particular person in the news, but they may even pitch the story themselves. However, we must ultimately remember that people in the news are real people and you don’t get to diagnose them or make insinuations about them as a psychologist. In addition, try to also remember that what you say reflects on psychology as a whole. I’d also bear in mind that that newsmaker might have a couple of lawyers working for him or her and they may decide to negatively impact your career.