Is Donald Trump mentally instable? That’s what Dr. John Gartner is trying to prove with his Change.org petition: it’s been circulating recently, seeking signatures from mental health professionals.
The petition states that as someone suffering from a severe and persistent mental illness, Donald Trump, pursuant to Section Four of the Constitution’s 25th amendment, should be removed from the presidency.
The petition now has almost 60,000 signatures. Gartner asserts that Donald Trump has malignant narcissism, a disorder characterized by traits of both narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder. The disorder earns the label “malignant” because it becomes toxic to the individual’s relationships and surrounding world. As such, mental health professionals across this great nation are claiming a “duty to warn” the world about the toxic nature of Donald Trump’s personality.
This Virtue-Signaling Lacks Credibility
A “duty to warn”? An ethical dilemma? This virtue signaling has crescendoed for several months now. But being an armchair diagnoser is never something a mental health professional is called to do. The profession has a longstanding history of not inserting itself into politics, and continues to hold that position, the presence of some leftists notwithstanding.
But since the mental health profession continues to move further left, this development is ultimately unsurprising. While Gartner does not expect Trump to be ousted from the presidency, he does plan to waste Congress’ time by presenting the petition to Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Don’t take this as a defense of Trump. He may or may not have a mental illness of some kind. I don’t know, and wouldn’t presume to know without talking to him and to those close to him. Those who oppose Trump’s presidency are quick to paint him as the malevolent version of Bill Murray’s character in “What About Bob,” an obsessive fellow whose concern for self-image is the only thing stopping him from dropping nuclear warheads on the entire eastern hemisphere.
Yet those who know Trump best portray him as a genuine, caring individual with a heart as big as the post-conversion Grinch on Christmas morning. Those two perspectives are very difficult to reconcile, and the claim that one can diagnose Trump without having ever met him is astoundingly arrogant.
The Ethical History Of Medicine Matters
The intricacies of malignant narcissism notwithstanding, the fact that these ethical concerns are being voiced by those on the Left makes them even more absurd.
The “duty to warn” mandates, also known as Tarasoff laws, exist so that mental health professionals may break the confidentiality of the provider-patient relationship in order to protect a specific victim. But the duty to warn doesn’t apply here because a) Trump is not their patient, b) they have no specific targeted victim, c) the “duty to warn” doesn’t give blanket permission to announce a mental illness to the whole world, and d) again, Trump is not their patient.
And just announcing to the world that Trump is dangerous doesn’t qualify as fulfilling some sort of ethical duty; it just makes them sound desperate to denigrate a president they loathe.
Don’t Take Ethical Advice From The Left
These health professionals pretend the world is eerily silent on Donald Trump’s fluctuating moods, and that it is up to them to reveal the truth. But typing “Donald Trump is dangerous” into Google will net approximately three trillion hits. We’ve seen nonstop commentary on Trump’s Twitter habits, his character, and his history of berating one group of people or another. Clearly, there is no shortage of people worried that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to hold the presidency. Pretending that one’s mental health credentials gives some bonus insight into a man who has been in the news 24 hours a day for the last two years is the height of absurdity. And I say that as a mental health professional.
The so-called Goldwater Rule, section 7.3 of the American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics, deems it unethical to diagnose someone without having met the person or conducted an interview. Gartner has claimed that the Goldwater Rule doesn’t apply here, but it’s illogical to suggest bending ethical guidelines while simultaneously claiming to be doing something ethical. These doctors may think they are acting ethically by warning the world about Donald Trump. But if they have to break the ethics code to do it, they look like hypocrites.
Indeed, ethics deal with rights and wrongs, and how we should act in certain situations. Ethical concerns are guided by moral principles, tenets which serve to point us in the right direction along the way to our destination. To study ethics is to be concerned with what we ought to be doing at any given time.
This Is Hypocrisy, And Nothing More
And that’s the entire problem here. Taking ethical advice from the Left is like taking directions from someone with no map, no compass, and no sense of direction. We have put our faith in a philosophy that doesn’t have even a basic understanding of directions from which to work.
The Left brought us moral relativism, the idea that right and wrong are subjective. According to leftists, the concept of “ought to” does not, or at least should not, exist. The self is the highest good, and as such, any behavior or idea is good so long as it benefits the self and so long as the self determines that it is good. This is why the Left are, among other things, the peddlers of abortion on demand, people who firmly believe that killing one’s child is okay as long as the mother believes it’s what she ought to do.
The Left’s love of abortion speaks to an understanding of ethics that is blurry at best, and evil at worst. So please forgive me if I roll my eyes and pay no attention to their ethical concerns regarding Donald Trump’s mental health, and their deliberations on how best to proceed. Their concern rings hollow and ultimately falls on deaf ears. It becomes nothing more than another example of the emotionally-charged faux outrage. Ultimately, they have no objective moral principles on which to cling, which is why this appeal to ethics is so confounding.
The Left has done nothing to earn our attention when it comes to ethical discussions. And until they decide that protecting all human beings is a good idea, it will remain that way.