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Should a Mental Health Assessment be a Requisite for a US Presidency?

Health and Gender Policy Brief #131 | By: S Bhimji | September 15, 2021

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Photo taken from: Politico

Policy Summary

The presidency of Donald Trump was an eye-opener for not only Americans but the entire world. Within the first few months of the presidency, Trump proved to everyone that even mentally challenged people can become leaders of the most powerful country on the planet; but whether they could govern is another matter.

From the very beginning, Trump’s character was revealed as brash, turbulent, volatile, impulsive, and divisive, and his lack of political experience was obvious- but he did not care or listen to anyone. The leadership traits that the public values like diligence, honesty, intelligence, and compassion were absent in Trump. Instead, his leadership style was that of a strongman or more like a dictator who hated to lose and lacked empathy.

During his entire presidency, he defiantly flipped the presidential scripts and created chaos everywhere. There was combativeness with everyone including his staff, the media, and even members of his party. There was a constant turnover of staff- all of whom were praised as great workers in the beginning and then deemed to be the worst employees when fired. Almost all briefings with the media were hostile and the modus operandi under Trump was to take no prisoners.

Everything that resonated with the prestige and tradition of being a US president was thrown out of the window- it was either Donald’s way or no way at all. And to make matters worse, most people believe that Trump was in some way responsible for the social insurrection that occurred on January 6, 2021. 

Over the past few months, millions of Americans have become baffled by his personality and alarmed by the policies and tactics he was employing to stay in power. Some of these policies were regressive, unlawful, and undermined the long established democratic processes which the USA preaches to other nations.

But it was his ability to distort facts about everything from the crowd size at his inauguration to the mismanagement of the Covid crises which revealed that Trump has some deep underlying mental issues. If the facts did not suit him, he reiterated that they were fake or false news. Every single day,  rather than go to his office, he would spend the early hours of the morning sending irrational tweets and insults to everyone including  US Supreme court justices.

The persistent falsehoods by Trump eroded public trust in the US government. Trump made it sound that people are entitled to lie if they feel they have been maligned. But was this president under too much stress or was he another mental case?

Policy Analysis

One thing is clear; Donald Trump has some type of mental disorder, and one does not have to be a psychiatrist to make that diagnosis. But aside from his pathological lying, experts note his narcissistic personality,  grandiose ideas and delusions are common traits observed in psychotic individuals.

Psychologists have labeled Trump’s persona as brash, belligerent, volatile, and outlandish; he has a constant need to seek attention; criteria that fit a diagnosis of narcissistic, paranoid, and antisocial personality disorders. Notes from Trump’s niece, Mary, reveals that Trump had no role models for empathy and reciprocity when growing; his mother was often absent and self-focused whereas his father lacked empathy. Throughout his life, Donald tried to win his father’s affection and approval.

Whatever position one takes on Trump and his policies, most people agree that he has been divisive and corrosive to the nation. He has failed to appreciate the reality of matters like losing an election. His beliefs appear to be delusional and destabilizing for the country. But it his bald-faced lies that have been the most disturbing; why he lies persistently remains a mystery.

Photo taken from: The Milwaukee Independent 

Trump had almost no ability to govern or make any type of strategic policy to run a country. His tweeting reflected that his thinking was haphazard, impulsive, offensive, and boisterous. Trump is emotionally immature and has never been able to handle criticism or praise. When criticized he always gets angry and fires that individual. What was worse is that he was surrounded by people who agreed to meet all his demands and whims, which set a dangerous precedent for the nation.

Health professionals have come to know a fair bit about Trump’s personality and they have a cause for concern should he run again.

Government officials are considering legislative action about when and where to invoke the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which calls for the orderly transfer of power when a president is temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

Engagement Resources​

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