The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump
First edition cover
EditorBandy Lee
CountryUnited States
SubjectDonald Trump, mental health, politics
PublisherThomas Dunne Books
Publication date
October 3, 2017

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump is a 2017 book edited by Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist, containing essays from 27 psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals describing the "clear and present danger" that US President Donald Trump's mental health poses to the "nation and individual well being".[1] A second edition updated and expanded the book with additional essays.[2] Lee maintains that the book remains strictly a public service, and all royalties were donated to the public good to remove any conflict of interest.[3]


Authors argue that the President's mental health was affecting the mental health of the people of the United States and that he places the country at grave risk of involving it in a war, and of undermining democracy itself due to his dangerous pathology.[4]

Consequently, the authors claim, Trump's presidency represents an emergency which not only allows, but requires psychiatrists in the United States to raise alarms. While it has been repeatedly claimed that they have broken the American Psychiatric Association's Goldwater rule– which states that it is unethical for psychiatrists to give professional opinions about public figures without examining them in person[5] –the authors maintain that pointing out danger and calling for an evaluation is different from diagnosis. They have criticized the American Psychiatric Association for changing professional norms and standards, stating that it is dangerous to turn reasonable ethical guidelines into a gag rule under political pressure.[6][7]


Estelle Freedman, the Robinson Professor in U.S. History at Stanford University, said of the book:

This insightful collection is grounded in historical consciousness of the ways professionals have responded to fascist leaders and unstable politicians in the past. It is a valuable primary source documenting the critical turning point when American psychiatry reassessed the ethics of restraining commentary on the mental health of public officials in light of the "duty to warn" of imminent danger. Medical and legal experts thoughtfully assess diagnoses of Trump's behavior and astutely explore how to scrutinize political candidates, address client fears, and assess the 'Trump Effect' on our social fabric.[8]

Reviewing the book for The Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim wrote "That the authors differ in their diagnoses does not give one great confidence in the field of psychiatry or, indeed, in the book’s value.[9]", and stated that the essay authors sound "paranoid".

According to Jeannie Suk Gersen in The New Yorker, "A strange consensus does appear to be forming around Trump's mental state," including Democrats and Republicans who doubt Trump's fitness for office.[5]

In a blog post republished on Salon in September 2017, journalist Bill Moyers wrote that "[t]here will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump". In an interview with Robert Jay Lifton, Moyers said that Trump "makes increasingly bizarre statements that are contradicted by irrefutable evidence to the contrary." Lifton said, "He doesn't have clear contact with reality, though I'm not sure it qualifies as a bona fide delusion." As an example, Lifton said, when Trump claimed that former president Barack Obama was born in Kenya, "he was manipulating that lie as well as undoubtedly believing it in part."[10]

Carlos Lozada in The Washington Post wrote that many politicians and commentators referred to Trump as "crazy" or doubted his mental health. In this book, mental health professionals examine that claim. They conclude that "anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency." Lozada wrote that these conclusions are "compelling," but presidents with mental illness, like depression, can be effective, and presidents without mental illness can still be dangerous.[11] Lozada would later name the book as the "most daring" book he read in 2017.[12]

In September 2022, The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 by journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser of The New York Times and The New Yorker respectively, reported that John F. Kelly had secretly purchased the book when he was Trump's chief of staff from July 2017 to January 2019. According to the authors, who interviewed Kelly for the book, he considered the book helpful in dealing with Trump, whom he considered to be insecure, egotistical, and a pathological liar.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President Macmillan Publishers
  2. ^ Lee, Bandy X. (2019-03-19). The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President - Updated and Expanded with New Essays. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1250212863.
  3. ^ Lee, Bandy X.; Glass, Leonard L. (10 January 2018). "We're Psychiatrists. It's Our Duty to Question the President's Mental State". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  4. ^ Parker, Kathleen (June 13, 2017). "Is Trump making America mentally ill?". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Gersen, Jeannie Suk (August 23, 2017). "Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  6. ^ Lee, Bandy X.; Fisher, Edwin B.; Glass, Leonard L. (February 26, 2018). "The Goldwater rule has been turned into a silencing mechanism aimed at those who would speak out".
  7. ^ Barclay, Eliza (January 6, 2018). "The psychiatrist who briefed Congress on Trump's mental state: this is "an emergency"". Vox (Interview). Quoting Bandy Lee: "I'd also like to emphasize that we are not diagnosing him — we keep with the Goldwater Rule. We are mainly concerned that an emergency evaluation be done."{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  8. ^ "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump". Macmillan. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  9. ^ Swaim, Barton (2017-10-13). "Review: 'The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump' Caters to a Country on the Verge of a Crackup". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-09-17.
  10. ^ Moyers, Bill (September 19, 2017). "The dangerous case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on "A Duty to Warn"". Salon. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  11. ^ Carlos Lozada, "Is Trump Mentally Ill? Or Is America? Psychiatrists Weigh In, The Washington Post, September 22, 2017
  12. ^ Lozada, Carlos (November 17, 2017). "The most enlightening, irritating, daring and disturbing books of 2017 — and the best one, too". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  13. ^ Pengelly, Martin (September 15, 2022). "Trump chief of staff used book on president's mental health as guide". The Guardian. Retrieved September 18, 2022.