On January 6th, 2018, President Trump retaliated to the criticism he has faced after the release of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, in the form of a strongly worded tweet. In this tweet, Trump most notably called himself a “stable genius.” The reaction to this tweet has been a mixture of both negative and positive responses. While some of the negative ones are requesting for Trump to have a psychiatric exam, the positive ones are claiming that an exam is too far fetched for this situation. Out of all of these conflicting opinions, Trump and the White House are, for the most part, staying out of the debate.
In Trump’s controversial tweet, purposed to prove people criticizing his mental stability wrong, he made things much worse on the mostly liberal point of view. The debate on Trump’s mental stability has blown up so much that many journalists and even psychiatrists are commenting on the matter. The host of MSNBC, Joe Scarborough, is one of the journalists who has caught attention for their commentary on Trump’s mental state. Scarborough attempted to report the possibility of Trump having dementia in the Washington Post twice, but he was not allowed to publish his work both times. He stated that one of his stories was about , “…one of the people closest to Donald Trump during the campaign saying he’s got early-stage dementia…” Scarborough continued this remark with his evidence that, “He (Trump) repeats the same stories over and over again. His father had it. And it’s getting worse, and not a single person who works for him doesn’t know he has early signs of dementia.” While this argument has convinced some, psychiatrist Allen Frances thinks that Trump does not meet the criteria to have dementia. Frances, who helped write the manual for diagnosing mental illnesses, wrote in September that, “…the three most frequent armchair diagnoses made for Trump- narcissistic personality disorder, delusional disorder and dementia- are all badly misinformed.”
Along with Joe Scarborough, Yale Psychiatrist Dr. Brandy Lee has also been brought to attention for her opinions on Trump’s mental state. Dr. Brandy Lee spoke to Newsweek about Trump, saying, “If it were possible we would be declaring a public health emergency that needs to be responded to as quickly as possible.” She continued this with the statement, “As more time passes, we come closer to the greatest risk of danger, one that could even mean the extinction of the human species.” With her comments, Dr. Brandy Lee believes that she does not violate the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule, a rule that bars members of this association from diagnosing or commenting on any person that they have not personally examined. Many people disagree with Lee about this, and have gone as far as making death threats towards her.
Probably the biggest response to Trump’s tweet comes from Democratic Pennsylvania Representative Brendan Boyle, who has revealed a bill called the Stable Genius Act. The name of this bill is an acronym standing for the Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection Act. The purpose of this bill is to require presidential candidates to be subjected to a medical exam, including a psychiatric component, and publically release the results before election. Rep. Boyle put in a statement that, “The President believes he is a ‘stable genius.’ I do not…” His reason to unveil this bill is that he believes that Trump’s behavior has, “…exposed a critical flaw in our existing election process.” Rep. Boyle finished his reasoning with the comment, “Before voting for the highest office in the land, Americans have a right to know whether an individual has the physical and mental fitness to serve as President of the United States.”
The White House’s reaction to all of these negative responses to President Trump’s tweet is, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put it, “outrage and disgust.” In the full emailed statement Sanders called critics of Trump’s tweet “ridiculous”, saying that there has been an, “outpouring of support from a totally indignant staff.” Sanders spoke on behalf of the White House’s opinion on this matter. Her main reason for the offense the White House feels is “… that people who do not know this President or understand the true depth of his intellectual capabilities would be so filled with hate they would resort to something so far outside the realm of reality or decency…” In addition to Sanders, another White House Press Secretary has commented on this situation. Hogan Gidley, the Deputy White House Press Secretary, responded to reporters questioning him as to whether Trump’s upcoming physical exam would involve a psychiatric part with merely the word “No.” While Gidley would not engage in this debate, Trump’s longtime friend and Inauguration Chairman Thomas J. Barrack Jr was quite the opposite. In an interview, Barrack spoke about the discussion of Trump’s mental state saying, “It’s not mental instability…” He continued this with, “It’s management by controlled and orchestrated chaos.”
Mira Wichelmann, a sophomore at SLV, shared their take on the debate of Trump’s mental stability, mainly standing with democrats like Rep. Brendan Boyle. Mira was familiar with Trump’s tweet, saying that it was not an appropriate response to the book Fire and Fury. They continued this statement with, “An appropriate response would have been a critical analysis of the book, not an ego boost like he did.” When asked if they thought Trump had put himself out for discussion with his tweet, Mira answered with, “Yes. Being at the standpoint that he is, everything he says is put out there for discussion. So when he says things like he is a “stable genius”, he should expect some kind of retaliation against that. He needs to realize that lashing out on Twitter is of course going to get a reaction from people and that anything he publically says is subjected to scrutiny.” Mira shared their opinion on Dr. Brandy Lee’s controversial view on Trump’s mental stability saying, “I agree with Dr Lee. From my upbringing and my standpoint I think Trump is a threat. All of his twitter ranting serves as evidence that he is not stable. It’s not possible to diagnose what he actually has, but it is possible to understand that he is not a person of mental stability, even if the personality that he shows is much different than his actual mental state.” They added to this saying that, “It’s kind of irresponsible to not look at the current president and think or say he is stable and that everything is fine.”
by Kaylo Zubey