About That Photo of Rudy Gulliani Holding the DSM-5
On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, posted a tweet that read, “Currently doing research on a major exposé. This will completely shake the 2020 Presidential election. Stay tuned,” accompanied by a photo of Giuliani reading the “Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders,” better known as the DSM-V.
Currently doing research on a major exposé. This will completely shake the 2020 Presidential election. Stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/5QvSgbNwXL
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 18, 2020
While this is far from the first time mental health diagnoses have been mentioned while leading up to a presidential election, this is never OK. Giuliani’s tweet implies that mental health diagnoses are grounds to, “completely shake the 2020 presidential election,” when really the presence of a mental illness has no indication of one’s political affiliation, leadership abilities or morality, and suggesting otherwise just perpetuates the stigma that impacts people who do live with mental illness face every day.
At the same time, many replies to Giuliani’s tweet attempted to turn the argument back in his face — which ultimately continues to perpetuate stigma and ableism. Really, Giuliani and most of the population do not have the qualifications to actually use the DSM-V for its intended purpose, and those who do are ethically bound to not attempt to diagnose an individual they have not assessed personally, and legally bound to not breach patient confidentiality.
I'm teaching a diagnosis and assessment class for @LoyolaSSW this semester. Finally found an image that conveys the DSM's subjectivity and how it is used as a weapon by people in power. Thanks Rudy! https://t.co/uZV8EyjOK9
— Jonathan Singer (@socworkpodcast) August 19, 2020
This type of argument is far from new, with a trending petition and the hashtag #DiagnoseTrump gaining popularity in 2016. Ultimately, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on, attacking someone for their mental health is never OK and is ultimately harmful for many more people than the desired target of the intended attack. Instead of going after a candidate’s mental health, we should focus on their political stances and the morality of their behavior — which is separate from whether or not they meet any set of diagnostic criteria.
There are plenty of reasons to criticize both presidential candidates this year, but an individual’s mental health is ultimately irrelevant to their campaign, so let’s focus on the issues that really matter.
Lead image via @RudyGiuliani on Twitter