The psychiatrist who chaired the task force in charge of writing the book on psychiatric disorders is telling fellow psychiatrists to stop “psychiatric name-calling” and diagnosing President Trump with mental illnesses to make a political point.
In a letter to the editor published in the New York Times, Allen Frances, who chaired the committee that wrote the definitive Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, took issue with psychiatrists attempting to diagnose Trump with narcissistic personality disorder.
Frances wrote “amateur diagnosticians” have been labeling Trump with narcissistic personality disorder, but he doesn’t meet the criteria for the mental illness:
Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled President Trump with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote the criteria that define this disorder, and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them. He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.
Frances stated that “it a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill” to be compared to Trump, because they “are mostly well behaved and well meaning,” while Trump isn’t:
Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy. It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).
Frances denounced “psychiatric name-calling” as an attempt to distract from Trump’s “attack on democracy”:
Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely. Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy. He can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers.
After publishing his letter to the editor, Frances wrote on Twitter, “It is insulting to the dignity of the mentally ill to confuse their deep suffering with Trump's petulant tantrums & petty disappointments.”
Frances has come out against what he views as the over-diagnosis of mental disorders.
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