Don’t Call Donald Trump Insane

Efforts to label Donald Trump as mad or insane are seriously misleading and misguided for two important reasons.

Firstly, the use of mental health labels has been a particularly damaging feature of the mental health system. Attaching mental illness terms (mad, insane, psychotic, paranoid, etc.) to people’s behaviour is not very objective. Psychiatrists regularly disagree with each other on the nature and cause of people’s problems. In many cases, their labels fail to take account of social and environmental factors. But also, many people have been deeply hurt by the stigma associated with labels of mental illness and by their experiences within the mental health system.

Using these labels to justify opposition to Donald Trump, while understandable, reinforces and legitimises what can be a very oppressive experience for many people.  If it’s okay to label him as insane, then it’s okay to do this with anyone else whose behaviour we don’t like. Labelling people as mentally ill becomes another form of oppression and one which no person who considers themselves progressive should condone.

Secondly, by labelling Donald Trump as insane we distract people from the real problem. He could be replaced tomorrow and nothing much would change. Racism, sexism and xenophobia would continue to exist. The problem is not a person, it’s a system. We live in a social, political and economic system that exploits, mistreats, discriminates against, and hurts large numbers of people. Putting the focus on Donald Trump means we see the solution as getting rid of him rather than changing that system of exploitation.

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