Is It Appropriate Or Useful To Question Candidates’ Mental Health In Clinical Terms?

Rick Pluta, MPRN

We’ve all heard it, people speculating that Donald Trump’s antics and temperament can be attributed to some sort of mental illness.

And we’ve heard people speak about this in clinical terms — “He’s a narcissist!” “He’s a sociopath!

But is this an appropriate way to discuss our presidential candidates or anyone who hasn’t been evaluated and diagnosed by a professional?



Matthew Goldenberg, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times titled “A professional opinion: You don’t need a psychiatrist to know there’s something wrong with Donald Trump.” He argues that this is not the right conversation to be having about Donald Trump and his candidacy. 

Goldenberg joins host Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to explore the issue. He says one danger is that clinical terms used to describe people with real mental illnesses can turn into pejoratives in popular culture.

Describing Donald Trump as a narcissist is, in some ways, insulting to narcissists,” says Goldenberg.

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

This post is a part of 2016 Elections: Issues & Candidates.

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