Maybe it’s just the people I follow on Twitter, but lately it seems that every other tweet mentions a common assumption that Donald Trump is mentally ill. I’ve seen members of the press say it as well as celebrities and everyday not so well-known Americans. Here’s a small sampling:
Trump is no different than the mentally ill who shoot up a theatre or a school, except this is all of America & maybe the start of the world
— Trump is a TRAITOR! (@VictoriaLove227) August 11, 2017
Remove this mentally ill man from office NOW!
— Trump Is A Moron (@jamielynn5551) August 12, 2017
yes truly absurd - trump is quite mentally ill and a danger to the planet - https://t.co/5GBkr5bGdA
— ROSIE (@Rosie) August 12, 2017
To be fair, people have been diagnosing Trump as “crazy” even before he became president. As investigations into his actions ratchet up, so does his unusual behavior. But the truth is that no one truly knows if Trump is mentally ill. To throw out such a term without any professional diagnosis is not only irresponsible, it’s unfair and stigmatizes those who do suffer from mental illness.
I happen to be one. I have bipolar II, which means my symptoms tend to be more depressive than hyperactive. And I can tell you from studying mental illness and being hospitalized for it, that “mentally ill” people are not typically harmful to others. When one is in the grasp of mental illness, they cannot plot or plan well. They cannot figure out how to con people out of their money, they cannot strategically plan how to draw the nation’s attention away from their alleged crimes and they are unable to manipulate mass populations. All of which Trump appears quite able to do. This ability to control one's thoughts is the difference; mentally ill people cannot do this.
Donald Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.
He may be ignorant of history and government, uncouth and a sexist pig and he may not speak well or come across as educated, but that does not make him mentally ill. To the contrary, he is smarter than people give him credit for. If I were to ascribe a label to him, it would be a conman as he knows exactly what he can get away with and when he needs to create a distraction for when his actions go too far.
Trump is a narcissist and egocentric, but that does not mean he is mentally ill. To brand him as such is a lazy excuse for explaining his behavior. Our culture tends to label individuals exhibiting abnormal behavior as “crazy” or “insane,” but these are general terms meant to describe behaviors that are outside of our cultural norms. The fact that we, as a culture, do not discuss mental illness and tend to treat it and its victims as taboo, does not give us the right to categorize every behavior we find disagreeable as a mental illness.
Trump is not doing anything he’s not done for decades. He behaves abnormally because he’s learned that he can get what he wants if he does. He’s learned that his offensive behavior makes people uncomfortable and fearful. He’s spent years lying and intimidating everyone from government officials to employees, and not once has he ever paid for this behavior. The truth is that Trump is the embodiment of what Americans have come to value. America, the system, has made Trump. He is neither mentally ill nor insane but merely a reflection of what we allow and tolerate in our society.
Crazy or Just Plain Privileged?
Trump has been allowed to behave in this “crazy” way because of his wealth and position in our society. The American system values nothing more than a wealthy, white male and has developed a separate system for those “who have” versus those of us “who have not.” A rich, white male like Donald Trump can be found to have engaged in the crime of money laundering and will be punished with a fine and not jail time. Meanwhile, a poor, black male will be choked to death by police for allegedly selling single cigarettes on the street, or sentenced to 13 years in prison for possessing 2 joints. A Russian mob gambling ring was run out of Trump Tower, and yet Trump was allowed to feign ignorance. Whereas, average Americans can have their property seized for just mere suspicion of committing a crime…
You get the concept, I’m sure.
Face it, we have become a nation that erroneously believes that wealth and fame automatically makes one more believable and therefore untouchable. Our political, legislative, and judicial systems embody this belief. Abnormal, even criminal behavior is more often ignored or encouraged when a wealthy, white male is the offender. If Trump were a black man with no money, all of his lies, money laundering, bankruptcies and failures to pay would have landed his ass in jail a long time ago. As a wealthy, white male however, he was rewarded time and time again with leniency. Then, to top it off, he was given a “reality” show…as if to say, this is our “reality.”
Trump’s “crazy” is encouraged and condoned by our society. To label him “mentally ill” is to ignore our contribution as a society to his behavior. It also unfairly and falsely associates his purposely self-motivated manipulation and lies as traits of mental illness when they are not. Trump is the end result of decades of this duplicitous system of “haves” and “have nots.”
I may suffer from mental illness, but I don’t take kindly to being lumped in with Trump. I’m not a con artist. I don’t lie or manipulate people. I would never sell my country out or threaten war with other nations to cover for my misdeeds, and neither would the millions of others that suffer from mental illness in this country.
Trump is not mentally ill. He is not deserving of this label, but more importantly, the label “mentally ill” is not deserving of Trump. Call him a liar, a trader, a greedy manipulative bully… but don’t call him mentally ill.