Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Discrediting Trump as mentally ill sets a dangerous precedent

There is only one topic anyone wants to talk about these days. What is wrong with Donald Trump?
You know the one, President of the United States. Boasts about having a nuclear button on his desk and how smart and stable he is.

There's nothing wrong with questioning a powerful world leader. But what is wrong, is discrediting and excusing everything he does on the basis of a supposed mental illness.

Speculation has reached fever pitch with the publication of a new book Fire and Fury which has turned all attention to Trump's mental state.

I have had conversations which quickly turned to arguments with workplace colleagues on this topic. I can't contain my passion. You see, I wholly disagree with labeling Trump as 'mentally ill' for a number of reasons:

If Trump has a mental illness, why does that mean he should no longer be President? Trump was elected for the view that he continues to espouse. He threw many tantrums and displayed similar Twitter rants and raves during the election. He was still elected. But the reason he should no longer be President is not that he holds dangerous views; but that he may be mentally ill.

This sets a dangerous precedent and poses the following questions:

Can people with mental illness not hold positions of power?
Can we be managers? CEOs? Politicians? President?

And if we do have a mental illness, do we now have to declare a deeply private and personal matter publicly?
Are we allowed to serve the public without revealing our medical record?

Is every person who makes decisions we don't agree with mentally unstable?
Is every 'bad' person, however you define 'bad', mentally ill?
Or what about world leaders from the past?
Maybe all dictators are mentally ill? Was Hitler mentally ill? Maybe Genghis Khan?

Here's the big thing though. We don't know if Trump has a mental illness or not. This is all pure speculation which causes significant harm

Speculating is excusing people who make bad decisions and poor judgments.
Speculating makes people like me, who are mentally ill, feel degraded, judged and inferior for an illness I cannot change. It makes me question my sanity. Am I also a 'bad' person because of my illness?

Mental illness is not an excuse for throwing a tantrum. It's not an excuse for racism, or other bigoted views.
Playing the 'mental illness' card diverts blame from a grown man onto a real, serious and life-threatening illness that affects millions of people. Using it in this way is only serving to restigmatise mental illness as something only the 'crazy' other has, rather than something 1 in 4 of us live with on a daily basis.
Mental illness is being used as a weapon against Trump. How can he be a fit President if he's mentally ill? But I refuse to accept the label of mental illness as an insult.

Worse still, we cannot possibly judge someone's mental health from the image they project. While some psychologists have come out to state Trump is mentally ill, an almost equal number have come out to say that it is unethical to assume this when they have never met Trump.

And as for former colleagues who are questioning Trump's mental state?
Imagine telling a work colleague that having watched how they perform in work over the past few weeks or months, you've decided that they are mentally ill. If we can publicly question Trump's mental health and use it to belittle him, what's to stop us from doing to everyone else?
The stigma around mental health in workplaces remains high. And those of us with mental health problems who are working are left feeling under threat. Will my capability be questioned or belittled if rumour of my mental illness gets out? Will my decisions be scrutinized for signs of instability? Will it be used against me?

Those of us with a mental illness are being silenced by media and political speculation.

This has to stop. Every positive step that has been made towards defeating the stigma around mental health is on the verge of being set back or reversed. The legitimacy of surveys showing stigma-reduction and positive change hang in the balance.
Mental health awareness and advocacy groups need to take a public and vocal stance on this issue. And they need to do it now.

No comments:

Post a Comment