Kanye West and Donald Trump: Eccentric Maybe But Not “Mentally Ill”

 

The Left thrives on its condemnation and demonizing of the Right, including slurs like homophobic, racist, Islamaphobic, Nazis, fascists and other insults too numerous to list. Now they’ve begun to use other attacks to try to get the Right to line up with its agenda: just call the person mentally ill.

These attacks were and are especially prevalent against Donald Trump. But the most public attacks recently have been against Kanye West, a rapper and superfan of Donald Trump. I confess I don’t know much about Mr. West or his music, but he is one more celebrity in a long list of celebrities who have endorsed Presidents of the United States.

The problem for the Left is that Kanye is breaking the rules: he’s encouraging black people to think for themselves; he’s pointed out the economic improvements for blacks in the midst of the Trump Presidency. And he has an unconventional way of doing it, which horrifies and embarrasses the Left and some members of the black community. Kanye West simply refuses to walk in lock-step, because he’s an independent, creative thinker.

Several months ago, West was hospitalized:

‘I had never been diagnosed until I was like 39 years old,’ the rapper said, clarifying that he was ‘diagnosed with a mental condition.’ But ‘like I said on the album,’ he added, ‘it’s not a disability, it’s a superpower.’

The rapper didn’t name the condition, but he has referred to bipolar disorder in [his song] ‘Ye.’ The artwork for the album also features a photo of mountains, with a hand-written scrawl reading: ‘I hate being bipolar it’s awesome.’

It was an extraordinary paradoxical admission for a number of reasons. He didn’t see whatever the diagnosis was as a liability; he didn’t make excuses for it, and in fact, embraced it as part of who he was. Although his public behavior is unpredictable, we have no way of knowing how he behaves in private. He has had a hugely successful career, is married, has children, and has shown independent thinking. And if he is bipolar, there are levels of the condition that determine how debilitating it can be, and there is nothing to indicate that his reasoning processes are impaired.

Unless you ask the Left.

They have decided to focus on his “mental condition” (which has still not been identified, nor is there any indication if he is being treated) as an explanation for his supporting President Trump. They have resorted to calling him an ignorant Negro, mentally ill, saying that his mother would have turned over in her grave if she had heard him. But West takes many of the comments in stride, as he described his decision to wear the MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat:

‘It represented overcoming fear and doing what you felt, no matter what anyone said,’ West said. ‘Liberals can’t bully me; news can’t bully me; the hip-hop community, they can’t bully me. Because at that point, if I’m afraid to be me, I’m no longer Ye. That’s what makes Ye. And I actually quite enjoy when people actually are mad at me about certain things.’

That comment sounds quite sane to me.

I think we have become a society that is increasingly intolerant of political differences. Can you remember people in the public that we used to call eccentric? You know, those people who showed unusual or odd behavior? Those who were quirky, unconventional and unpredictable? I, for one, admired their independence, their ability to ignore the judgment of others or refuse to act conventionally just because it was “normal.” I’d venture to say we all have someone quirky in our lives, and maybe even thought they were a little crazy, but endearing nonetheless. But they were also often bright, witty and capable. When it comes to Kanye West, I wouldn’t call him crazy; I’d call him eccentric.

This attack on Kanye West’s mental condition could forecast serious future issues for this country. What extremes will the Left go to with their unprofessional and amateurish efforts to diagnose people? Will people who oppose them be labeled with “mental conditions” that discount their ability to represent a different point of view? Will the Left start looking for a history of mental illness, even those that are far from debilitating, and label a person incapable of holding office?

Oh—I nearly forgot. That’s precisely what they tried to do with Donald Trump. And I originally joined in the outcry.

I didn’t like Donald Trump early on; I still don’t like him much, but I’m very pleased with where he is taking this country. Before he was elected the protests were deafening; many unapologetically diagnosed him as mentally unfit to hold office. There are some who still feel that way, in spite of everything that he has accomplished.

When Trump became President, suddenly the psychiatric profession decided to take center stage in diagnosing him—from a distance, of course. You would think they would have learned their lesson.

Back in October 1964, the results of a survey were published where 1,189 psychiatrists declared that Barry Goldwater was “unfit to be President.” That essentially brought an end to his campaign (although he had other difficulties). Following this travesty, the American Psychiatric Association developed a rule for its constituents called the Goldwater Rule, which was intended to discourage the diagnoses of public figures if they had not been formally evaluated. Unfortunately, many psychoanalysts have protested recently the enforcement of this rule :

An increasing number of psychologists and psychiatrists have denounced the restriction as a ‘gag rule’ and flouted it, with some arguing they have a ‘duty to warn’ the public about what they see as Trump’s narcissism, impulsivity, poor attention span, paranoia, and other traits that, they believe, impair his ability to lead.

Under this pressure, the APA has withdrawn the Goldwater Rule.

In contrast to the outcry against Trump is this statement:

Dr. Robert Pyles, a Massachusetts psychiatrist and Trump supporter, said the president’s behavior is within the normal range: ‘My liberal colleagues feel frightened and betrayed, so they go to this hysterical extreme of saying Trump has narcissistic tendencies, but what political leader doesn’t?’

Without exception, the mental health professionals said that would-be diagnosticians, including pundits and political foes, are misguided in asserting that Trump has a mental disorder — for one fundamental reason. According to decades-old criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association, a diagnosis of mental illness requires that someone’s behavior, emotions, or beliefs have two key attributes: They cause the individual to suffer clinically significant distress or impairment.

Donald Trump shows other significant, annoying behaviors, but I don’t think he demonstrates these attributes. He is also a person I would describe as eccentric, although I might think of him as my least favorite uncle.

I also appreciated this comment from the same article:

‘Trump doesn’t meet DSM criteria for any mental disorder,’ said Dr. Allen Frances, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University who oversaw the creation of a previous edition of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, considered the bible of psychiatry. ‘I wrote the criteria and should know how they are meant to be applied: Personality disorder requires the presence of clinically significant distress and/or impairment. The armchair, amateur diagnosticians seem either to be unaware of this requirement, or carelessly choose to ignore it.’

The media has spouted its opinions of Kanye West and Donald Trump; most of them lack the credentials to make diagnoses. Maybe instead of declaring these men as mentally ill, they should stick to their real jobs.

Assuming the media can figure out what their real jobs are.

There are 13 comments.

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  1. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Thank you for this post, Susan. I thought leftists wanted to defend the disabled and those with mental illnesses? But now they are smearing anyone who disagrees with them as mentally ill, and treating real mental illness as a joke. 

    The message they are sending is that anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a mental illness should just shut up and go away. Thank God Kanye West isn’t listening; he is an inspiration, on so many levels.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):

    Thank you for this post, Susan. I thought leftists wanted to defend the disabled and those with mental illnesses? But now they are smearing anyone who disagrees with them as mentally ill, and treating real mental illness as a joke.

    The message they are sending is that anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a mental illness should just shut up and go away. Thank God Kanye West isn’t listening; he is an inspiration, on so many levels.

    Thanks, @judithanncampbell. Yes, so much for being champions of those who are ill. They are sure wrecking their brand. I worry that all of us may be at risk from the heavy hand of the state–if the Progressives get power.

    • #2
  3. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    It’s beyond astounding that any credentialed professional would venture to diagnose anyone without a thorough personal examination. To diagnose without it is akin to espousing an opinion about a book without having read it but based strictly on the cover.

    • #3
  4. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I worry that all of us may be at risk from the heavy hand of the state–if the Progressives get power.

    They aren’t just saying that Trump and Kanye West are mentally ill; they are also saying that anyone who supports either of them must be mentally ill too. Scary stuff.

    • #4
  5. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    They aren’t just saying that Trump and Kanye West are mentally ill; they are also saying that anyone who supports either of them must be mentally ill too. Scary stuff.

    Very scary. 

    • #5
  6. DonG Coolidge
    DonG
    @DonG

    I don’t think Kanye is crazy or mental or eccentric.  He comes across as a guy who is really smart, but does not have sufficient practice in articulating himself.  I am hoping he can nudge the swamp in a useful direction.  He’d a great proponent of families and entrepreneurship!

    • #6
  7. Dorrk Inactive
    Dorrk
    @Dorrk

    West and Trump are both egotists prone to believe in conspiracies. They both also talk a lot without  thinking about whether what they are saying is true or coherent. They love to hear themselves declare things and that, by virtue of their declaration, these things must have value. These aren’t mental illnesses (although West does actually have a diagnosed mental disorder; maybe it’s not kosher to call that an “illness”), just signs of too much self-esteem and not enough intelligence behind their natural talents of self-promotion.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thanks for the comments! I just don’t want to lose sight of the possibility that the attack on mental stability could be the next tool in the Left’s bag to attack Republican credibility. I’ll be watching for those kinds of statements.

    • #8
  9. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Thanks for the comments! I just don’t want to lose sight of the possibility that the attack on mental stability could be the next tool in the Left’s bag to attack Republican credibility. I’ll be watching for those kinds of statements.

    I guess if we aren’t rapists or racists, we are crazy?  Wanting limited government means I am crazy?

    • #9
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Thanks for the comments! I just don’t want to lose sight of the possibility that the attack on mental stability could be the next tool in the Left’s bag to attack Republican credibility. I’ll be watching for those kinds of statements.

    I guess if we aren’t rapists or racists, we are crazy? Wanting limited government means I am crazy?

    Only a crazy person would oppose the coming utopia. You just need to believe. 

    • #10
  11. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    The Soviets are past masters at destroying people through calling them mentally ill. 

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    TBA (View Comment):
    Only a crazy person would oppose the coming utopia. You just need to believe. 

    Yeah, right. I forgot that part. [sarcasm off]

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    TBA (View Comment):
    The Soviets are past masters at destroying people through calling them mentally ill. 

    That’s where my mind went, @tba. With all the talk of socialism, I thought others might be concerned, too.

    • #13

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