Psychiatrist Warns CNN Against Diagnosing Trump's Mental Health

A controversial CNN segment Sunday morning featured the former head of Duke University's Psychiatry Department demanding professionals stop discussing President Donald Trump's mental health in terms of "psychological name-calling."

Dr. Allen Frances, author of Twilight of American Sanity, appeared on Brian Stelter's CNN program Sunday to push back against a Yale School of Medicine psychiatry professor and several other mental health professionals who often appear on cable news networks to "diagnose" Trump from afar based on his frequently erratic behavior and public comments. Stelter was later ridiculed on social media for allowing Dr. Frances to claim "Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and Mao were in the last century."

On Sunday afternoon, Stelter blamed "tech difficulties" that kept him from hearing Dr. Frances' comparisons to the murderous 20th Century dictators and apologized for not interrupting the controversial commentary. Several psychiatrists appeared on MSNBC and other networks Sunday accusing Trump of being a narcissist and a "successful sociopath" along with other negative mental health diagnoses.

"I think medicalizing politics has three very dire consequences," Dr. Frances told Stelter Sunday morning, warning colleagues against diagnosing Trump from afar.

"The first is it stigmatizes the mentally ill. I've known thousands of patients, almost all of them have been well-behaved, well-mannered, good people—Trump is none of these."

"Lumping in the mentally ill with Trump is a terrible insult to the mentally ill and they have enough problems and stigma as it is," he added. Stelter noted to a previous psychiatrist guest that she'd "never met" Trump in person.

"The second issue is calling Trump 'crazy' hides the fact that we're crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist," Dr. Frances continued. "Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and Mao were in the last century. He may be more responsible for millions of more deaths than they were. He needs to be contained. But he needs to be contained by attacking his policies and not his person."

Several right-wing Twitter accounts and other pundits pounced on Dr. Frances' claim, noting Mao, Hitler and Stalin were each responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people, prompting the apology from Stelter Sunday afternoon.

Dr. Frances went on to say it's only "crazy" not to tax the rich or to have Republicans block climate change legislation.

"Discussing the issue in psychological name-calling terms distracts us from getting out the vote," he added in the segment entitled, "Tiptoeing Around Trump's Instability."

Earlier Sunday on MSNBC's AM Joy program, retired Harvard clinical psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes diagnosed Donald Trump as having a "fundamental psychological problem" that causes him to seek male approval from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Donald Trump does have a fundamental psychological problem," he said. "He needs to be loved all the time, he needs to have power over everyone all the time. Once you get that idea down, the rest of his behavior and his speech makes sense...He's an extremely successful sociopath."

Dr. Frances concluded the segment by saying Trump will "never be removed from office on the grounds of mental unfitness...that will never happen."

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A controversial CNN segment Sunday featured a psychiatrist demanding professionals stop discussing President Donald Trump's mental health in terms of "psychological name-calling." Screenshot: CNN | Reliable Sources

George Conway, husband to the Trump administration's Kellyanne Conway, has been one of the most frequent critics of the president's mental health, labeling him a "malignant narcissist." Conway routinely points to psychological studies and books in which he says Trump's mental illnesses are evident through his bizarre behavior or self-infatuation.