Even just a cursory glance over social media can tell you that a lot of people think Donald Trump is "crazy," or "insane," or even an actual narcissist. But Allen Frances, MD, who wrote the diagnostic criteria for narcissism, thinks that we shouldn't be so quick to point to mental illness when it comes to Trump. In response to a New York Daily News article on Trump's possible narcissistic personality disorder that has been making the rounds on Twitter, Dr. Frances weighed in, saying that to speculate about Trump's mental health is to entirely miss the point. Dr. Frances responded to another Twitter user who asked for his thoughts on the matter, tweeting that "constantly saying Trump's crazy [is] wrong & misses point." "He doesn't meet DSM Narcisssistic criteria (I wrote them)," he wrote. "Its [sic] worse - he's bad, not mad."
Instead of trying to diagnose Trump with mental illness, he continued, it's far more useful (if you don't agree with his politics) to examine the system that put him into power.
Furthermore, Dr. Frances thinks that in speculating about Trump's mental health, we are doing a disservice to those who do suffer from mental illness. In a series of tweets, he explained why he doesn't think Trump is a narcissist — and how harmful it can be for us to keep assuming that he is.
As Dr. Frances put it in a Psychology Today article published Tuesday, focusing on Trump's mental health is "well-meaning, but misguided." "Dismissing Trump as simply mad paradoxically reduces our ability to deal with his actions," he wrote. So while we may be tempted to look for an answer to what we see as abnormal behaviour, Dr. Frances makes the great point that doing so can add further stigma to mental illness, as well as prove to be fruitless in helping us reckon with the president's actions. Sure, calling him "crazy" has become the go-to, but it may prove to do more harm than we think.