Over the last few weeks, pundits, critics and even previous supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump have begun to question his mental state after a series of outbursts — most particularly his rants about a fallen U.S. Muslim soldier and the Gold-Star Khan family.
Celebrity physician and addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky (who is a certified medical doctor and a licensed surgeon in the state of California) is the latest to zoom in on Trump’s erratic behaviour, but he also questions the motivations of those who support the former Celebrity Apprentice host in his run for the Oval Office.
More specifically, Pinsky wonders why Trump supporters are so willing to overlook the apparent warning signs of mental instability. In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, the doctor says that Trump doesn’t meet the medical criteria to be diagnosed as “insane” (which, by the way, isn’t an official medical term), but does show signs of mental instability.
“There’s two definitions of sanity: one is legal definition, and that is somebody who is so out of it they don’t know the difference between right and wrong,” he said to Lemon. “Very few people meet that standard. When you’re legally insane, you’re really not functioning. Clinically, medically, usually when we talk about insanity, we mean psychotic, hearing voices, hallucinations.”
Pinsky says that while it’s impossible to determine if Trump has narcissistic personality disorder from a distance, he wonders if the GOP candidate might have symptoms of bipolar disorder (a mental illness characterized by shifts in mood, with a direct impact on daily functioning).
“When I hear people that are impulsive with their speech, I worry about hypomania and bipolar types of conditions,” Pinsky said. “As he says, he has boundless energy. Again, a little hypomania can be great. There are a lot of hypomanic businessmen that get a ton done. Containing your speech, be thoughtful, take a beat before you say something, for those people it can be very, very difficult.”
Late-night host John Oliver stated that Trump is a sociopath, and while Oliver was probably using hyperbole, Pinsky disagrees.
Pinsky asserts that he’s more concerned for the mental health of Trump supporters, who seem to value his “drive” and commitment to particular stances over the actual substance of his speeches and behaviour — even if, on the grand scale, his words can be interpreted as racist, sexist or exclusionist.
“I have a radio program on KABC… what I keep hearing from listeners there is enough is enough,” Pinsky said. “If somebody is going to fight back, they’re going to say, whatever, and I don’t care what he says as long as it’s extreme and pushing back and he’s putting my country and my job first, I’ll get behind him whatever he says. There’s disregard for the content.”
In a self-ridiculing reference, Pinsky, who has appeared frequently on reality TV, compares Trump supporters to watchers of reality TV.
“Why do we watch reality television?” he asked rhetorically. “Why do we do this? Let’s examine that.”
In November 2013, Pinsky famously said that troubled then-Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford was in desperate need of an intervention.