People Want to #DiagnoseTrump With Mental Illness — And It Needs to Stop
A California congresswoman seems to have conflated mental illness with racism, sexism and extreme arrogance.
Citing Donald Trump's perceived "impulsiveness and lack of control over his own emotions," Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, launched a Change.org petition calling on mental health professionals to determine whether the Republican presidential nominee is fit for office, the Los Angeles Times reported. #DiagnoseTrump, the hashtag attached to the movement, is now trending on social media.
"It is our patriotic duty to raise the question of his mental stability to be the commander in chief and leader of the free world," Bass' petition said. "Mr. Trump appears to exhibit all the symptoms of the mental disorder narcissistic personality disorder."
The page proceeded to list nine characteristics people with NPD typically show, including a "grandiose sense of self-importance," a "sense of entitlement" and an unwillingness "to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others."
"If you believe Trump has publicly displayed characteristics of the nine criterion below, please sign this petition as a call to action to #DiagnoseTrump," the page said. Some people eagerly joined Bass' call to action — like this Twitter user, who wrote, "The RNC has a patriotic duty to protect our country and the world from this sick, sick man." Bass' petition has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
Not everyone feels the same way. Many on Twitter are pushing back against #DiagnoseTrump, arguing the movement is only heightening the stigma that already surrounds mental illness. Trump's bigoted, insensitive remarks aren't the product of mental illness, people are saying; the truth is, they're the product of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and sexism.
Around 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Despite its prevalence, a 2007 survey found that "only 25% of adults with mental health symptoms believed that people are caring and sympathetic to persons with mental illness." Mental health stigma is real — and equating mental illness to rudeness and bigotry isn't helping.
#DiagnoseTrump absolves the candidate of responsibility for his oft-terrible behavior. It suggests that a mental health condition — and not Trump's own ideas — are to blame. Let's be real: Trump's bigotry didn't happen to him because of a health issue; it's an awful stance he chose to take.
So please, let's not #DiagnoseTrump. Let's hold him accountable.
Aug. 4, 2016, 1:38 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.