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Donald Trump, Mental Health, and the 25th Amendment of the Constitution


Over the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, some people raised concerns about the mental stability and wellness of Donald Trump. Such claims are probably common during a heated election. Similar concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health and ability to serve were raised by those who opposed her. However, post-election, there continue to be some people expressing concern about Trump’s fitness.

This document is simply a placeholder and reference guide to those researching this topic. No position on this issue is offered or intended here. Feel free to contact us or use the comments area below to suggest additions or corrections to this document.

It’s important to point out that Donald Trump’s operational strategy mostly incorporates military strategies, which to the casual observer would look destructive, authoritarian, and possibly narcissistic. Yet understanding that operational strategy helps provide a framework for his behavior. [More here.]

The 25th Amendment

There is a provision in the 25th Amendment whereby the Vice President of the United States can take over for the president if the president becomes unable to serve for some reason. Some people are suggesting that this provision may be necessary if Donald Trump is found to be unfit to serve.

Possible Responses to Mental Fitness Concerns

These are some of the responses and issues that would most likely be raised by those defending Trump’s ability to serve.

  • Compassion. If the President or anyone else were to have a form of mental disorder, they should be treated with compassion and respect. They should receive whatever support and care they need to be well again. Such a condition should not be used for any malicious politically driven attacks or torment of the person in question.
  • Endorsements. Those who believe Trump is competent have endorsed him and support him. There will no doubt be some medical professional endorsement of Trump at some point.
  • Inaccuracy of Non-Clinical Diagnosis. Those who defend Trump would refer to the questionable accuracy of a non-clinical medical or psychological diagnosis.
  • Measure of Impeded Performance. Regardless of a person’s physical or mental condition, the primary issue would be whether or not that condition were impeding their effectiveness to serve.
  • Stigmatizing Mental Illness. Some believe that a person’s mental wellbeing is a sensitive subject and it shouldn’t be scrutinized or politicized in a way that could appear to stigmatize those with mental illness who despite their condition are able to function well in society.
  • Treatment. Depending on the condition, many people with mental illnesses or cognitive problems have been able to receive treatment that helps them cope with the problem or perhaps recover.
  • Trump’s Success. It could be argued that Trump’s business success is an illustration of his mental wellbeing.

Articles Expressing Concern About Trump

Below are some articles that express concern about Trump’s fitness to serve. These are listed in chronological order beginning with the most recent article. When multiple similar articles are available, only the primary source is provided here.

  • View from the left: Journalists must start covering the elephant in the room—Trump’s mental health,” by Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos, 28 Jan 2017 at 1:00 PM CST. Excerpt: “Several weeks after the November election, three psychiatry professors urged President Obama to order a neuropsychiatric evaluation of Trump’s mental fitness before he assumed the responsibilities of the presidency. It was about as much as they could ethically do—mental health professionals are restricted from diagnosing anyone who’s not actually under their care. But you don’t have to be a trained therapist to know that Trump could probably binge on mushrooms daily and have a more benign grasp on reality than he does now.”
  • Temperament Tantrum,” by Susan Milligan, U.S. News & World Report, 27 Jan 2017 at 6:00 AM. Excerpt: “Modern presidents, whatever their party or approach to governing, face the same fate: win the White House, and get on the couch. Presidential temperaments and personalities are exhaustively examined by professionals and lay people alike, as both experts and the public try to figure out what makes the most powerful man in the world tick. Richard Nixon was widely regarded as paranoid, keeping an enemies list. Bill Clinton, his biographers write, had a “hypomanic” personality that included a high-energy, hard-working and creative work style coupled with an impulsiveness and quick temper. With President Donald Trump, however, the observations of the presidential personality have taken on a more ominous tone. Lawmakers and experts say they are troubled by Trump’s extraordinary focus on his own brand and popularity, including frequent and angry insistences that his crowds are bigger and more enthusiastic than anyone else’s and that, despite official vote counts to the contrary, he really won the popular vote for president. The man Hillary Clinton called temperamentally unfit to be president because of his insults of women, Latinos and disabled people has not calmed his demeanor since becoming the 45th president. In a recent interview with ABC, Trump declared he had “the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches,” and then showed his interviewer an aerial photo of his inaugural, insisting that other photos clearly indicating a smaller in-person crowd than President Obama’s 2009 inaugural were manipulated to demean his own supporters. He said in the same interview that he got a bigger standing ovation in a recent speech at CIA headquarters than star quarterback Peyton Manning got after winning the Super Bowl.”
  • Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? 3 Professors Of Psychiatry Ask President Obama To Conduct ‘A Full Medical And Neuropsychiatric Evaluation’,” by Richard Green, Huffington Post, 17 Dec 2016 at 1:53 EST. Excerpt: “Virtually every mental health professional I interviewed told me that they believed, with 100% certainty, that Mr. Trump satisfied the DSM criteria of this incurable illness and that, as a result, he is a serious danger to the country and the world.”
  • Trump Versus the 25th Amendment,” by Arturo Garcia, Snopes, 30 Nov 2016. Excerpt: “On 2 November 2016, reporter Ann-Derrick Gaillot argued that a Donald Trump presidency — still only a possibility at the time — could be cut short thanks to the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The key part of the 25th Amendment for a Trump presidency is Section Four, which gives the vice president, backed by the majority of the executive cabinet, the power to declare the president unable to serve and assume the role of acting president. In such a case, we would all be waving bye-bye to President Trump and hello to President Mike Pence. If Trump were to object to this action, the decision would be left up to a two-thirds vote in Congress. Considering the number of senators and representatives who opposed a Trump presidency, the odds of Trump winning a congressional vote are unlikely.”
  • America’s Therapists Are Worried About Trump’s Effect On Your Mental Health,” by Gail Sheehy, Politico Magazine, October 10, 2016. Excerpt: “Over the summer, some 3,000 therapists signed a self-described manifesto declaring Trump’s proclivity for scapegoating, intolerance and blatant sexism a “threat to the well-being of the people we care for” and urging others in the profession to speak out against him. … The manifesto also made a subtler point: that all the attention heaped on Trump is actually making it harder for therapists to do their jobs. Trump’s campaign is legitimizing, even celebrating, a set of personal behaviors that psychotherapists work to reverse every day in their offices.”
  • The Mind of Donald Trump,” by Dan P. McAdams, The Atlantic, June 2016. Excerpt: “Ever since Sigmund Freud analyzed the life and art of Leonardo da Vinci, in 1910, scholars have applied psychological lenses to the lives of famous people. … A large and rapidly growing body of research shows that people’s temperament, their characteristic motivations and goals, and their internal conceptions of themselves are powerful predictors of what they will feel, think, and do in the future, and powerful aids in explaining why. … Trump’s personality is certainly extreme by any standard, and particularly rare for a presidential candidate; many people who encounter the man—in negotiations or in interviews or on a debate stage or watching that debate on television—seem to find him flummoxing. In this essay, I will seek to uncover the key dispositions, cognitive styles, motivations, and self-conceptions that together comprise his unique psychological makeup.”

Videos Supporting Concern About Trump

Below are some videos that express concern about Trump’s fitness to serve. These are listed in chronological order beginning with the most recent video. Titles are those provided by the author or publication.

28 Jan 2017

It’s Time for Donald Trump to Resign. From The Resistance with Keith Olbermann on GQ. This video of Keith Olbermann was posted to Facebook by GQ and as of 28 Jan 2017 and has had over 14 million views. The embedded video here is from a third party on YouTube and will be replaced with the GQ embeddable video when it becomes available. A Snopes article from 30 Nov 2016 has been updated with a reference to this video as well as other 25th amendment Trump-related issues.

25 Jan 2017

How the Media Needs to Respond to Trump Now. From The Resistance with Keith Olbermann on GQ.

23 Jan 2017

“Trump Exposes Trump” – Description from the publisher: “In his own words, Donald Trump reveals his contradictions about Iraq, immigration, health care, abortion, Libya, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and more.” This video either illustrates a campaigning strategy to win both sides of issues, or a problematic propensity to be indecisive.

A Plea to Trump Fans: This Man is Dangerous. From The Resistance with Keith Olbermann on GQ.

17 Dec 2016

Is Donald Trump Mentally Stable? » A Psychologist’s Perspective. This video is part of the article “Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? 3 Professors Of Psychiatry Ask President Obama To Conduct ‘A Full Medical And Neuropsychiatric Evaluation’,” by Richard Green, Huffington Post, 17 Dec 2016 at 1:53 EST. Excerpt: “Virtually every mental health professional I interviewed told me that they believed, with 100% certainty, that Mr. Trump satisfied the DSM criteria of this incurable illness and that, as a result, he is a serious danger to the country and the world.”


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Document Revisions

Here are notes about revisions to this document, with the most recent at the top.

  • 30 Jan 2017 at 12:50 PM CST. In the introduction to this document, a paragraph was added to reference the operational strategy of Donald Trump.
  • 30 Jan 2017 at 12:48 PM CST. Page visitor maps were added.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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