Donald Trump's 'downward mental health spiral' could lead US to war, clinical psychologist says

Health professional argues there is a possibility President Trump's mental health could leave America vulnerable to terror attacks or war

Maya Oppenheim
Thursday 19 October 2017 10:24 BST
President Trump’s mental health has gained growing attention
President Trump’s mental health has gained growing attention (AP/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump’s “downward mental health spiral” could potentially lead the US to war, according to a clinical psychologist.

Leanne Watt, who specialises in the treatment of adults with personality disorders, and Richard Painter, a White House ethics chief under George W Bush, argued experts had the professional and ethical responsibility to speak up when they see behaviours which appear “troubling or suspect”.

President Trump’s mental health has gained growing attention in recent months and a number of psychologists have come forward to issue stern warnings about the potential danger it poses to the world.

Writing in a piece for NBC News, the pair noted many clinicians have already highlighted their own concerns about President Trump’s psychological health. Nearly 800 mental health professionals have joined a coalition which say they are so worried about the billionaire property developer’s mental health they feel obliged to warn the public.

“At this juncture, waiting for unfitness to manifest beyond the types of observable and highly predictive behaviour patterns studied by psychiatrists and psychologists is, we believe, naive,” said Ms Watt and Mr Painter in their joint piece.

“Though remote, we cannot rule out the possibility that a president in a downward mental health spiral could destroy important global partnerships, alter centuries-old alliances and leave the United States vulnerable to terror attacks or war.”

An online petition, created for mental health professionals who believe the president is not fit to be in the Oval Office, has been signed by roughly 62,000 people.

The pair’s comments come as Peter Wehner, George W Bush’s advisor, has said he is concerned President Trump is “someone who is psychologically and emotionally not well”.

During a panel discussion with Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio on CNN, he claimed that the former reality TV star says abhorrent things because he is not “stable”.

“It’s not just this incident, this is one of a series of incidents. There’s data point after data point in the campaign and during the presidency,” he said.

“This is a president who has a disordered mind. He’s impulsive and vindictive. And even when it is in his self-interest not to do certain things like drag General Kelly’s son into this or drag President [Barack] Obama into this, or get into a fight with the Khan family, or go after John McCain; he continues to do it. There’s no strategy. This is a person who is just not in command of his emotions and feelings and actions.”

President Trump has sparked criticism for his treatment of grieving military families this week. The president has been accused of telling the grieving widow of US soldier "he knew what he signed up for" moments before she wept over his coffin. He has since insisted the story is “totally fabricated”.

Since then, he has been accused of not knowing the name of a dead soldier whose widow he telephoned to console after he was killed in Niger.

Mr Wehner said that the commander-in-chief sometimes had to play the role of pastor-in-chief but argued President Trump was not adept at helping people who were distraught or wounded.

“He takes these wounds and makes them deeper and wider and creates more pain, not less. That’s important because it’s deeply painful for the families. It also tears at the civic and social fabric of a country,” he said.

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