“First we have got to get Gerald elected. Then we have to get him some psychiatric help.” I heard this said by one of his supporters at a candidate forum over 15 years ago.

Gerald was an incumbent county elected official facing a primary and possible general election challenge. His behavior in office had caused some to wonder about his mental health. The absolute lunacy of the supporter’s statement shocked me. I had reached out to Gerald to try to reason with him. Many of us were discouraged at our inability to reach him. Years earlier he had been such a bright and good-natured lawyer.

Gerald lost the primary. A few years later he passed away. I heard it was clear to those who saw the state of his living conditions at his time of death that suspicions about his being mentally ill were well founded.

Actually, having a mental illness was not an impediment to Gerald’s job performance. Having a mental illness go untreated was Gerald’s downfall. Had Gerald sought and received treatment he could have done an outstanding job serving the county.

The stigma of mental illness was even stronger then than now. Many who sought and held public office refrained from getting help for addiction, depression, or other mental illnesses for fear of public exposure and ridicule. First Lady Betty Ford’s courage in seeking treatment for addiction and speaking out about her situation made it easier for others to seek help with less fear of ridicule.

Many years after he left the White House we learned that President Ronald Reagan began suffering from the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s while in office. First lady Nancy Reagan and others shielded him from public exposure. While I cannot blame her for protecting the man she loved I have serious concerns about allowing someone in that condition to govern.

Now many ponder about whether President Donald Trump’s words and actions are due to his being mentally ill. History will ultimately reveal whether President Trump is mentally fit or unfit. Even if he is not suffering from any mental impairments the reality is that we may quite possibly find someone in an office such as President with mental illness or brain impairments.

Someone could begin a campaign or be inaugurated before showing sign one of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Or someone could suffer a series of minor strokes, mental illness or brain tumors while in office. While there are provisions in the law for when such an officeholder becomes completely impaired, there are not protections when the impairment is less than total.

My heart goes out to Nancy Reagan and others who find their loved one, friend, boss or political ally compromised in such a way. I can also understand the fear of losing power and control.

But in such circumstances patriotic duty must overcome the temptation to deny the impairment. I believe that propping someone up to appear as the person in charge cannot be in his or her best interest health wise. “We have to get … psychiatric help” needs to come first.

Susan Criss, a former district court judge and attorney, writes columns from a progressive perspective.

(25) comments

Carlos Ponce

Trump is not your typical politician. That's what got him elected. To judge his actions and words as making him mentally unfit is ludicrous. Liberals are strange people. They clamor for diversity acceptance but only if you act and think as they do. Should we question their mental fitness?

Jarvis Buckley

You are a yellow dog democrat. All one has to do to see your hatred is to look deep in your eyes & notice your facial expressions. I'm not being critical of you personally . But it may be a good idea for you to have a health check up. For the sake of your
mental health. You should quit writing articles for a while. You seem overcome with mental anguish.
Get a check up. Wish you only the best.

Gehrig Boone

Criss can write about mental illness because she has an inside scoop on the subject.

Diane Turski

Choosing to live in denial of the obvious, especially just for partisan reasons, not only does a disservice to everyone involved, it can be dangerous as well!

Norman Pappous

So Hillary Clinton lost to a man suffering from an untreated mental illness? Man, that's pretty bad! LMAO!!! But on a serious note - are you a physician Susan? No? Didn't think so. Next time you roll your eyes when a non-lawyer gives you a legal opinion, remember that you wrote this.

Doyle Beard

Susan might be careful about trying to diagnose mental illness if she is a a doctor. She needs to check the requirements for making this diagnosis. One in her profession should know better.

Don Ciaccio

Norman, lighten up! Susan Criss suffers from liberalism. A documented mental disorder. Guess that proves mental illness runs in the family. Lloyd Criss should have been institutionalized years ago!

Pete Nanos

Amazing how someone has so much insight into mental illness. Wonder why she couldn't spot the obvious in Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton or her own family? A little look in the mirror would be called for in this instance. Or should I be giving you credit for taking yourself out of the picture? Keep on writing though, GDN seems to like you, but hey they are the same people who thought shooting Republican congressmen only rated a page two mention. Hell, I made the front page by mentioning an alligator in our neighborhood.

Doyle Beard

Hey Susan I heard the sky is falling. I heard I heard.

Don Ciaccio

I share that very same concern about you Susan, and every other Democrat! After all, liberalism is a DOCUMENTED mental disorder.

Don Ciaccio

Susan Criss. You might well be an expert on mental illness. Your father, Lloyd Criss, is the poster child for a mentally deranged lunatic.
Louis Ciaccio

Gary Scoggin

Pretty classy, Don. Attack a person's father.

Pete Nanos

fair game after she attacked everyone and their brother, Gary.

Don Ciaccio

Including our president and ronald Reagan. Disgusting to throw that unsubstantiated BS at the greatest President of this century.

Don Ciaccio

Did you see the signature gary???

Gary Scoggin

Actually, Don. Reagan was a President in the last century not this one. Of course, there's a lot of last century thinking going on here.

Jarvis Buckley

I agree while I would stop short of being critical of her family members,
I question her ability to have a sane thought while talking about our president that most probably has three times her mental health.

Paula Flinn

Susan, I, too, have thought that Donald Trump is mentally disturbed. He does not have the same reactions to events that other people do. His sociopathic tendencies lead him to think of how he can profit first. Consider what he said after 9/11. "Now I have the highest building in NYC." Heard it wasn't even true. [whistling]

Carlos Ponce

Thank you Dr. Flinn. If you are psychoanalyzing without a license in this state consider the consequences.[whistling]

Steve Fouga

I feel that a person running for a high public office, or interviewing for a high appointed position, should be required to pass tests proving that the person's native intelligence is of a certain level, that they still have the capacity to learn, and that they are mentally and physically fit to hold the office or position.

Anyone actually elected to the Presidency, the U.S. House, or U.S. Senate, and anyone appointed to the Cabinet or National Security Council, should be required to immediately submit an SF 86 so that a vetted security clearance at the necessary classification level can be in place before the person begins work.

Concurrently, those people should be vetted for conflicts of interest that could encumber them in performing their duties while working in the federal government.

Such tests, clearances and vetting should be entirely non-partisan and should be expected by all involved in seeking high public office.

In case nobody noticed, I just presented a cogent discussion addressing the topic of the article, without disparaging Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Susan Criss, any members of their families, or any participants in this forum.

Carlos Ponce

"I feel that a person running for a high public office, or interviewing for a high appointed position, should be required to pass tests proving that the person's native intelligence is of a certain level, that they still have the capacity to learn, and that they are mentally and physically fit to hold the office or position."
Feelings, nothing more than feelings.....
His doctors checked him out and for a man his age he is in good physical and mental health. Must be all that golfing.[wink]
You do know that goes above the Constitutional requirement. If the MD suspected any mental problems he would have referred him to the appropriate psychiatrist or psychologist.

Steve Fouga

Who are you talking about, Carlos? It sounds like you're being defensive of President Trump.

Of course this idea goes beyond constitutional requirements, and would require an amendment. But it seems unfair to constituents that public office holders and political appointees don't have to meet more stringent health, intelligence, security, and ethical requirements than many folks who hold less important jobs. After all, our health, wealth, and physical welfare are in these peoples' hands.

Carlos Ponce

"It sounds like you're being defensive of President Trump." Well DUH, Steve.
When people start calling President Trump mentally unstable without any proof , just a disagreement with his view on things then the PROBLEM lies with the accuser.

Steve Fouga

Well, I think the problem lies with the constitution's lack of more stringent standards for candidates to meet.

As for President Trump, if he doesn't want people to think he's impaired, he should quit acting impaired.

Carlos Ponce

The standards are fine. The PEOPLE DECIDE whether he is fit or not and he WAS elected. When I view him and his methodology I see a businessman. That's NORMAL for them. You see him through uber-Liberal eyes and the fact that Trump does not meet your Leftist standards shows your intolerance for diversity.Your candidate lost. Live with it. If you have investments see how they have GROWN. Unemployment numbers are way down, lowest in 10 years with a 4.3% U3 and 8.4% U6.
The highest U6 and U3 were WELL INTO Obama's first term. They try to blame GW for this but Obama was in his 16th month in office when U6 reached its highest.

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