Why isn’t a mental health assessment required for a new president?


Credit: Increasing Number of Psychiatrists Challenge The Goldwater Rule / FFRF Maine


My son is applying for a job as a police dispatcher.  Like all government jobs, it’s a good paying job, with great benefits, including comprehensive health care, dental, and an actual pension.   He’s already passed two of the tests and the pool of candidates is down to just a few.   He thinks he has a good chance of snagging this job, but he still has to pass a mental health examination, since a dispatcher’s job can be incredibly stressful.  You have to be able to act quickly and make life and death decisions.  You can’t let your own emotions get in the way if you get a frantic call from someone threatening to kill themselves, or from a terrified woman whose ex-lover is holding a gun to her children’s heads.    You can’t dissolve into a handwringing puddle of indecision when you get a call from someone saying their husband is having a heart attack.   You must be able to act efficiently and quickly, and keep your wits about you at all times.    The job, though it pays well and is stable compared to many other jobs, has a lot of turnover because many people find they can’t handle this type of life-and-death stress for very long.  There is good reason then, to give a candidate like my son a mental health assessment, to make sure they are emotionally stable enough to be able to handle the type of situations that will come up without snapping, becoming depressed, or even blaming themselves if something goes wrong (because sooner or later, it will: some who threaten suicide will succeed; some who have a gun pointed at their head will actually be shot).

But the job of police dispatcher is far, far beneath that of President of the United States.  Only one or two individuals will be affected at a time by the choices a dispatcher makes, while the President’s decisions have the potential to affect an entire country, or even the entire world.

We have a president who obviously has a severe mental illness.   He appears to fit ALL of the 9 DSM-IV-TR criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes


If that’s not bad enough, Trump shows signs of severe paranoia and even a possible degenerative illness like Alzheimer’s.     It doesn’t take a trained psychologist to be able to see what is obvious:  Donald Trump’s behavior is not normal.    At best, he’s incompetent and unfit to lead a nation; at worst, he’s a clear and present danger to the planet.

Armchair psychiatrists’ speculations aside, no official diagnosis of NPD or anything else has been made for Donald Trump.   That’s because of The Goldwater Rule, which was instituted by the American Psychiatric Association to address the idea that diagnosing a public figure (Barry Goldwater’s fitness to run for president in 1964 was in question) without an official psychiatric assessment was unethical.

It’s my opinion (and that of some mental health professionals) that an exception to the Goldwater Rule should be made for Donald Trump, who is visibly mentally ill enough to pose a real danger to America and to the world.   But why wasn’t he given a psychiatric examination to determine his fitness to lead our country in the first place?

Personally, I don’t understand why a psychiatric assessment isn’t required for all incoming presidents, or even for anyone who makes the final two candidates in any election.    If my son has to take one to qualify for a job as a police dispatcher, then I definitely think it should be a requirement for any incoming head of state.

7 thoughts on “Why isn’t a mental health assessment required for a new president?

  1. BOTH of my parents are narcissists…I’m an empath with C-PTSD; and I can spot a narc a mile away. I HATE politics–because study after study concludes narcs are attracted to power and authoritarian professions like law enforcement, the legal profession and yes, politics. I know I am going to ruffle some feathers here–but Trump, the Clintons and Obama are ALL narcissists to varying degrees. Narcs fall on both sides of the aisle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s almost a requirement for a politician to have above average narcissistic traits — I wouldn’t go so far as to say all of he people you listed are narcissists, but they definitely all have traits of narcissism. What sets Trump apart from the rest of the people you listed is his utter selfishness and childish behavior. He has never shown one iota of empathy or compassion, it’s all about him, and he’s vindictive, spiteful, and is constantly gaslighting and smearing those who don’t bow down and worship the ground he walks on, or those who try to bring the truth to light. He has no respect for truth and no respect for anyone but other authoritarian types, which is typical of narcissists of his level of pathology. The Clintons may be narcissists but they are not malignant, from what I can tell.
      Trump is and is a sociopath also. I don’t think Obama is a narcissist at all.


      • I agree with every description you have of Trump! So spot on–a toxic mean malignant bully and on a scale of 1-10, I’d say he is off the scale.
        [ I can only observe what I see and consider to be narcissist behavior, as my “Dr. Drew and Dr. Phil” School of Armchair Psychiatry and Psychology doesn’t REALLY qualify me as an expert :-)]
        Obama has narcissistic tendencies as reflected by his constant lecturing and talking down. I’m sensitive to that as my father is a narc and always has the last word, always talks down, is always the expert; it’s a trait that many narcs have. I’ve read a fascinating analysis by Sam Vaknin, an admitted narc and his observations about Obama are pretty accurate. Obviously, there are varying degrees of narcissism, but I see it clearly.
        Thank you for your awesomeness, btw. I’ve read your blog for years, and it’s been so very helpful for me 🙂


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