“Donald Trump is a fool.” Is that the right term? I thought about that question a lot last night when I was an hour into a good-natured argument with someone about the limits of excusable ‘stigma-shielded’ behaviour.
Is Donald ill? I don’t know the answer. I have pretty major suspicions, but I can’t be sure enough to bet heavily on an outcome of any psychiatric tests. That’s the crux of the thing: he really could just be a racist, misogynistic, ignorant, fool. But what if he was mentally ill?
I don’t know about you, but I am mentally ill – that’s what people with lots of letters after their names tell me. Doesn’t matter who it is, their gender, or what country they grew up in, the result is always the same after I answer their questions. In fact, they don’t even have to overtly ask me anything, so it goes. A few minutes talking to me and it’s apparently obvious to people well trained in these matters. But I don’t know the things they do. I didn’t even know I was screwed until they opened my eyes to the overdoses, the drugs, the cutting, and the punching, the anger, the hallucinations and hopelessness. And don’t forget the perpetual emptiness. They didn’t even have to dig into my past. When they eventually got around to that rotten barrel it was rubber-stamped so hard that I woke up three weeks later. I was so stupid for not realising it all. Man, I could have run for Office if the net hadn’t dropped…
But back to Donald. For arguments sake, let’s give him a personality disorder diagnosis of, say, Anti-Social and Narcissistic personality disorder. Ok with you? Let’s imagine – stay with me – that it’s a nailed on diagnosis. The man is ill. He looks to get help this week. How does that make you feel about all the hurtful shit that’s come out of his mouth over the past eighteen months? Better? Worse? I mean, after all, he’d be ill….yeah?
When I look back at my life (I’m old, but not in a wise, elder-of-the-tribe way), I can easily remember some of the awful and hateful things I’ve said when I’ve been really ill. I’ve threatened strangers in the street with violence for tiny reasons that made perfect sense at the time, I’ve said the most atrocious things to people I’ve known well. I have punched men who didn’t deserve it. I was untrustworthy in my beliefs and my view of life when even slightly psychotic – still am. From the outside, to the unknowing, I was/am a monster. But I’ve got that diagnosis to frame it all; hang it all from (no pun intended). Plus, I’m in treatment. Donald isn’t.
Officially Trump isn’t ill, so I guess we must treat him accordingly. He’s running for the Presidency of the United States of America. He’s condemning Muslims, Women, Mexicans, the Poor, and anyone who is from a demographic he perceives as weak. He’s a predator.
Trump is out there in the world, undiagnosed, free, on the cusp of putting one of his tiny hands on the Armageddon button. And millions of people (right this second the polls suggest 42% of Americans are intending to vote for him) support his version of the future. They forgive the bile that’s been spewing out of that tiny orange mouth. My supporters can be counted on one hand. Genuinely. I’ve deserved it. I’m officially unwell. There are pieces of paper in large files which will tell you just that. But it’s completely fair. I got caught. Trust me, it wins you no friends.
It’s the oldest rule going – crazy is ok, until you really are crazy. Crazy is as crazy does. It’s defined not so much by the behaviour, but by the reasons behind it. To diagnose is to confine all errant talk and action to simply…’mentally ill’. I guess that’s the real root of stigma: diagnose and be damned. It’s why Trump still has support. He’s dodged the silver bullet, and the white coats. He is free to spout his crap until his eyes roll back in his head like a shark’s while he’s chewing off Miss America’s left breast. It doesn’t matter if he’s the most dangerous man since Ted Bundy. It’ll all be brushed under an expensive carpet anyway. Until you’re caught, you’re free, right? Especially true for the poor. It is very hard to get a psychiatric diagnosis to stick on someone getting out of a private jet they bought themselves.
Trump and me? – One of us is aiming high, with hope. The other is Travis Bickle.