Dr. Allen Frances, the former chair of psychiatry at Duke University, went on CNN to discuss the dangers of mental health professionals discussing President Donald Trump’s mental state. Frances argued that describing Trump as mentally ill “stigmatizes the mentally ill.” But in the middle of his argument, Frances claimed Trump may be responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong.
“Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him,” Frances said on CNN’s Reliable Sources. “And even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist. Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many million more deaths than they were. He needs to be contained, but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person.”
The comment led to an uproar from conservative commentators on social media who wondered why host Brian Stelter did not stop the psychiatrist after he made the claim. Even Trump’s son joined in on the criticism. “The only thing ‘Reliable’ about Stelter is that he is reliably a leftwing hack,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter.
Responding to another Twitter user who called the segment “shameful,” Stelter agreed that “I should have interrupted after that line.” Stelter claimed he was having technical difficulties and did not hear that part of Frances’ answer. “Not hearing the comment is my fault,” he said.
Trump’s mental health was also the subject of discussion over at MSNBC, where retired Harvard clinical psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes characterized Trump as “an extremely successful sociopath” who has a “fundamental psychological problem.” A characteristic of Trump is that he “needs to be loved all the time, he needs to have power over everyone all the time. Once you get that idea down, the rest of his behavior and his speech makes sense.”