Donald Trump might be a narcissist, but he doesn’t have narcissistic personality disorder, said Allen Frances, M.D., the psychiatrist who created the diagnostic criteria for the personality disorder.
In a letter to the New York Times, Frances notes that while Trump may be a narcissist, there is a difference between having narcissistic tendencies and having a mental illness. “He may be a world-class narcissist, “ Frances writes. “But this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.”
Since assuming the presidency, thousands of people – including politicians, psychologists and other prominent figures – have voiced their opinions of Trump’s mental health. Three weeks ago, psychologist John Gartner Ph.D., started a petition on Change.org stating “Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States,” and asking other mental health professionals to sign the petition. So far, the petition has been signed more than 20,000 times.
These calls to diagnose Trump, Frances said, only further stigmatize mental illness, and hurt those truly living with mental health conditions. “Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely,” Frances writes. “It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).”