Should presidents be required to pass a mental health exam?
via AP

Should presidents be required to pass a mental health exam?

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Should we require presidents to have their mental health examined? Some, recalling Ronald Reagan's deterioration in office, are asking whether Donald Trump can handle the world's hardest job. After reported incidents of angry outbursts, forgetfulness and incoherence—some prominent psychiatrists argue the president's mental health is "the elephant in the room." But others say that armchair diagnoses of our political leaders are irresponsible at best, slanderous at worst. What do you think?

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Many think that if you have access to the nuclear codes, you should have to pass a regular psychological health exam. 

[Rep. Zoe] Lofgren is calling for Pence and other Cabinet members to “quickly secure ... medical and psychiatric professionals” to evaluate Trump’s mental health and any possible impairments. “If it was a physical ailment, you would be getting the advice of doctors,” Lofgren told Mercury News. “The same thing should be true to take a look at his stability here.”

Johns Hopkins psychologist John Gartner has gathered more than 62,000 signatures from mental health professionals attesting that Trump "manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States."

“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was President. If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional,” he added.
Chairing the event, Dr Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, said: “As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.”

But others argue that offering public comment on the president's psychological health without ever having examined him is a serious violation of ethics, and any medical professional who would do so cannot be trusted. The Goldwater Rule prohibits mental health professionals from diagnosing public figures they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health publicly.

Many say these accusations are just more partisan smears from the left, designed to damage the president, whose mental and physical health is obviously fine. Could mental health evaluations be used for political attacks?

When a man acquires billions of dollars through complex real estate transactions, invests in many countries, goes on to phenomenal success in television and turns his name into a worldwide brand, it is very unlikely that he is mentally unstable.

And some of our greatest leaders struggled with mental health issues. Abraham Lincoln was famously depressive—would he have been disqualified by a mental health exam?

A recent study concluded that several past presidents had signs of bipolar disorder—Lyndon Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt among them. Nearly 8 percent of past presidents exhibited evidence of alcohol abuse or dependence.

Psychology Today cites one author who argues some mental illnesses could actually equip leaders to perform well in times of crisis, as they may be more able to cope with upheaval and uncertainty. Would psychological testing deprive us of a worthy president?

Former president Jimmy Carter wanted to create a panel of physicians who would routinely evaluate the Commander-In-Chief's psychological health.

"Many people have called to my attention the continuing danger to our nation from the possibility of a U.S. president becoming disabled, particularly by a neurologic illness," Carter wrote in a December 1994 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

And others point out mental health is just a really hard topic for us to discuss.

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