Or at least we, nor the media, are in a position to diagnose him.
Because that’s what mental illness is -– a serious diagnosis to be given by a professional. It is not a pop culture phrase to be thrown around as an insult to an unhinged media magnet.
Because who is really being insulted when Trump is called ‘mentally ill’? Certainly not Trump -– the media is helping him by letting him off the hook with an excuse for his rampant lying and hate mongering instead of doing the more complex work of seeking a motive behind his bizarre behavior.
The people really being insulted when mental illness is used in the pejorative sense are the millions who suffer from the myriad of mental illnesses, anywhere along the spectrum. The people who are already dealing with the stigma of the struggle, who don’t want to be considered ‘weak’ for seeking help are the victims of this misnomer.
“The people really being insulted when mental illness is used in the pejorative sense are the millions who suffer from the myriad of mental illnesses”
Worse off than the ones like myself who have already dealt with the stigma attached to asking for help (but have done it anyway) are those who will now be further dis-incentivized about ‘coming out’ after seeing the serious topic of mental health so cavalierly thrown about in such a negative light to explain away the seemingly inexplicable actions of someone as acidic as Donald Trump.
Is he a narcissist? A sociopath? Quite possibly but it’s not for us to say and even if so, these are personality disorders, not the mental disorders like depression, OCD or schizophrenia that are being inaccurately alluded to on a daily basis in the media.
As someone who has suffered from, confronted and dealt with bipolar disorder, it’s already extremely disconcerting to hear highly emotional, demonstrative people regularly written off as “bipolar.” Or indecisive, disorganized people described as ‘schizophrenic’ –- these are specific clinical diagnosis for long term, pervasively painful illnesses that shouldn’t be used to describe behavioral or personality traits.
Mental and mood disorders are also not always obvious in a persons actions and certainly not diagnosable from a distance; I am bipolar but often come off as the calmest, least emotional people in the room. You can’t diagnose someone based on their public persona and it is irresponsible, inaccurate and offensive for the media to try it –- especially in regards to someone like Donald Trump.
“You can’t diagnose someone based on their public persona and it is irresponsible, inaccurate and offensive for the media to try it.”
A massive disservice is done to every person who sincerely struggles with these issues when ‘mental illness’ is used as an insult to write off Donald Trump’s unacceptable behavior ― not to mention how much further it lowers the level of our political discourse to not hold to task the Presidential nominee of a major party for the vitriol he spews.
It’s bad enough when mental diagnoses are misused in common conversation or popular culture references, but when the media starts to use it to describe someone as toxically offensive as Donald Trump an organized effort needs to be made to educate the public about what these words really mean. This should start with an apology by the mass media, which is spreading the stigma we’re working so hard to get out from under.
Related Mental Health Posts by Brett Gleason: