Many people who experience mental health issues seek out help. In general, the person sees a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist who can assess the problem and determine a diagnosis. One thing is absolutely certain – a person seeking mental health care will never be diagnosed with Trump Derangement Syndrome (also referred to as TDS) because it simply does not exist.
A mental health assessment is a process that a psychologist or psychiatrist follows in order to determine a diagnosis. It involves a physical exam (which is provided by a doctor). This is done because there could be something physical happening in a person’s body that could mimic the symptoms of certain mental health conditions.
The mental health assessment also can involve blood work, a urine test, a brain scan, or other tests. These are intended to help rule out any physical condition that could be causing what may appear to be mental health issues. A person might be asked about their drug and alcohol use as well.
In addition, the person will be asked about their mental health history. This includes the symptoms they are experiencing, their personal history with mental illness, their family history regarding mental illness, and any psychiatric treatment the person may have had.
A personal history involves the psychologist or psychologist asking the person questions about their lifestyle. What was their childhood like? Are they experiencing significant stress? Are they married? Have they experienced major or minor trauma?
The psychologist will also ask the person about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The person will be asked about their symptoms in great detail, focusing on how those symptoms are affecting a person’s life. Conversation will be had about what the person does to try and manage those symptoms. The psychologist will also note the person’s appearance and behavior, including how they appear as compared to others of their age.
A cognitive evaluation is a test that assesses the person’s ability to think clearly, recall information, and use mental reasoning. It can involve math problems, remembering short lists, recognizing common objects, and questions about caring for themselves.
It is only after a psychologist collects and assesses this data that they can determine a diagnosis. From there, a plan can be made about therapy, treatment, medication, goals, and whatever else is relevant considering the diagnosis. A treatment team may involve a family or primary care doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, pharmacist, social worker, and/or the person’s family members.
Real psychologists refrain from making a diagnosis of a person whom they have not done a mental health assessment on. This is because a diagnosis cannot be made without the data that comes from that assessment.
In 2018, Bandy Lee, an assistant professor in forensic psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine briefed some members of Congress on President Trump’s mental state. She made it clear that she was not making a diagnosis, but was instead “assessing dangerousness.” Bandy Lee could be considered an expert on identifying dangerousness because she has spent more than 20 years studying, predicting, and preventing violence.
In short, a mental health diagnosis cannot be made until a psychologist gathers data from a mental health assessment.
When you see a person on social media attempting to label someone with the diagnosis of Trump Derangement Syndrome, (or TDS), be aware that the person making the diagnosis has absolutely no credibility. It is extremely unlikely that the person who is insisting that someone else has Trump Derangement Syndrome is actually the targeted person’s psychologist.
On January 9, 2018, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) called for an end to “Armchair” Psychiatry.
Today, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reiterates its continued and unwavering commitment to the ethical principle known as “The Goldwater Rule”. We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media. Armchair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable or unethical.
From this, it is clear that the people who are attempting to diagnose others with Trump Derangement Syndrome are not the psychologist of the person they are targeting. Real psychologists would not behave that way on social media (or on television, or in a book they published) because doing so is unethical.
The APA wrote that armchair psychiatry “undermines the credibility and integrity of the profession and the physician-patient relationship”. The APA can enforce ethical guidelines on its members. It also urges all psychiatrists, regardless of membership, to abide by the APA’s guidance in respect of patients and the profession. A psychologist who publicly makes a mental health diagnosis of a person they have not treated could face consequences from the APA (if they are a member). If they are not a member, that doesn’t prevent them from facing consequences from others in their profession.
From this, it is clear that the people who attempt to diagnose others with TDS on social media should be ignored. They have no data to work with, are highly unlikely to be a psychiatrist or psychologist, and they are attempting to diagnose a syndrome that does not exist.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook that is used by health care professionals in the United States (as well as in other parts of the world). It was updated to the newest version – the DSM – 5 – which was published on May 18, 2013.
The original DSM was published in 1952. The DSM-IV was published about 20 years ago. The DSM-5 was revised to include a wealth of new research and knowledge about mental health disorders.
APA’s goal in developing DSM-5 is an evidence-based manual that is useful to clinicians in helping them accurately diagnose mental disorders. Decisions to include a diagnosis in DSM-5 were based on a careful consideration of the scientific advances in research underlying the disorder, as well as the collective clinical knowledge of experts in the field. Advances in the science of mental disorders has been dramatic in the past decades, and this new science was reviewed by a task force and work group members to determine whether diagnoses needed to be removed or changed.
You won’t find Trump Derangement Syndrome in the DSM-5. That is because it is not a real mental health disorder. There are no academic papers published in credible journals about Trump Derangement Syndrome. This is why, no matter the reason a person decided to seek help with their mental health issues, the person will never be diagnosed with Trump Derangement Syndrome.
You may have noticed that Trump did not become president until 2017, and that the DSM-5 was published in 2013. Those two facts cannot be used to turn Trump Derangement Syndrome into a real mental health diagnosis.
Why not? The answer to that question is simple. Previous versions of the DSM did not include Obama Derangement Syndrome, which may have been coined by Jason Arvak, Managing Editor of the Post Gazette. Previous versions of the DSM also did not include Bush Derangement Syndrome, which was coined by a Charles Krauthammer, a conservative columnist, in 2003. None of those so-called syndromes actually exist.
Trump Derangement Syndrome Does Not Exist was posted on Medium on December 3, 2019.