It works both ways

Martin Shkreli, the repellent pharma-bro, is now publicly diagnosing Hillary Clinton with Parkinson’s Disease.

He has no qualifications at all for offering medical advice.

Shkreli dropped out of high school his senior year but graduated because he had the necessary credits and got his bachelor’s degree in business administration, not medicine, from Baruch College in 2004. He did not go to medical school.

Yet he has a video that’s over 2 hours long in which he meanders on about this.

If you find this as revolting and inappropriate as I do, I’ll just mention…do you feel the same way about all the non-psychiatrists claiming that Donald Trump, or his mobs of cheering fans, are mentally ill?

Don’t be like Martin Shkreli.


  1. Jake Harban says

    Donald Trump and all his cheering fans demonstrate some of the most common failure modes of the standard human mind.

    For what it’s worth, I actually don’t find Shkreli’s pontificating to be revolting (although considering all the other stuff he did, it’s hard to compare). I mostly just find it childish. Parkinson’s disease? Seriously? It’s like accusing Donald Trump of having tiny little hands.

  2. Ichthyic says

    Asked what, if Mr. Trump were their patient, they would “work on” with him, several of the therapists laughed. “I’d be shocked if he walked in my door,” said Behary. “Most narcissists don’t seek treatment unless there’s someone threatening to take something away from them. There’d have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in.” Simon concurred but added, “There is help available, but it doesn’t look like the help people are used to. It’s not insight-oriented psychotherapy, because narcissists already have insight. They’re aware; the problem is, they don’t care. They know how you’d like them to act; the problem is, they’ve got a different set of rules. The kind of approach that can have some impact is confrontational. It confronts distorted thinking and behavior patterns in the here-and-now moment when the narcissists are doing their thing in the session. It’s confronted on the spot; you invite them to do something different, then you reinforce them for doing so.”

    pretending there ISN’T a problem, simply because you want to be fair, is JUST as bad.

  3. Tethys says

    Why would anyone report on what this loathsome pusbag thinks? Isn’t he supposed to be in prison?

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Hillary with Parkinson’s? Nothing like Michael J. Fox, whom I admire for persevering despite of his problem. I don’t see it.

    Trump with NPD? Well it does explain a lot of The Donald’s behavior. But, I’m not a mental health professional. Still wouldn’t vote for him in any case. Too much Loony Tunes behavior.

  5. says

    Eh. Trump and his fans are assholes. Given that there are tens of millions of them, you can’t argue that they’re all crazy.

    Unless you want to also argue that insanity is a universal human condition.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re ~6(sorta):
    the people who vote for Drumph are assholes, voting for someone “outside the system” [scare quotes, actually] in order to ‘shake it up’ to amke it get the results that benfit them directly and personally (screw everybody else, just me, just me, me, me, me). So the reality show role player is the perfect foil to infiltrate the “insiders club” they consider the government to be.
    Perfectly fine if Drumph exhibits symptoms of NPD, they don;t care what he says. They all want to “speak their mind” regardless of any kind of etiquette (which they disparagingly call “PC”). They actually appreciate a doofus who speaks without thinking, just spouts off first thoughts without consideration to “double-guess” themselves.

    oops. geeze. Sorry to diagnose the general public. ugh. just felt like expressing my Opinion of the response Drumph has gotten. opinion only, not armchair diagnosis. phooeey

  7. Artor says

    I don’t have any problem saying that Trumplethinskin is completely and utterly fucked in the head. This is not a medical diagnosis, simply my observation.

  8. Gregory Greenwood says

    I am not qualified to opine on whether or not Donald Trump is neurotypical, but on the best available evidence of his statements and actions, he is a dangerously manipulative and opportunistic fascist, and that is what we should be focusing on, because neurotypical or not, he would present a pressing danger if he ever achieves high office.

  9. Lady Mondegreen says

    at 11:54 pm
    Eh. Trump and his fans are assholes. Given that there are tens of millions of them, you can’t argue that they’re all crazy

    Yes, but in addition to the garden variety assholism he shares with his supporters, Trump also has a number of specific characteristics that suggest NPD (which is a personality disorder, not a mental illness.)

    Obviously I am not “diagnosing” him. I’m observing him, and forming a hypothesis based on my knowledge of personality disorders.* I don’t find anything the least bit inappropriate or revolting in saying “that guy sure acts like a clinical Narcissist.”

    * No, I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m not prescribing medication or suggesting a treatment plan, either. Do you get mad when people without a medical degree recognize cold symptoms in themselves or others and say, “that sounds like a nasty cold!”?

  10. jonmelbourne says

    Scott Adams has already diagnosed Hillary as having had a stroke or possibly a brain tumour. Parkinson’s is a new one.

  11. robertmatthews says

    I am troubled by our modern tendency to medicalize everything, partly because the people who are doing it aren’t generally qualified to offer a medical diagnosis but mostly because it excuses everything: “I know she never does any work and steals office supplies, but she can’t help it, she’s got Impulse Control Disorder.” Without a doubt Trump is a severely damaged person: putting a medical label like Narcissistic Personality Disorder on him doesn’t mitigate anything he does or says, doesn’t explain him meaningfully, doesn’t lead him any closer to being a decent human being. Saying he’s an asshole pretty much tells us everything we need to know.

  12. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    As for trump and his supporters, I think “ideopathy” is the most salient description.

  13. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    Sigh, I want to call Trump a complete and utter narcissist – and that term is commonly used as an insult, mind – but how would I know whether he fits the psychiatric definitions without actual interviews and evaluations?

  14. unclefrogy says

    dam that was supposed to be preview

    Unless you want to also argue that insanity is a universal human condition.

    it sure is not a black and white situation nothing in life is it is the rare person who never looses their grip on reality at least occasionally and does not succumb to emotion and mistake illusion for reality it seems more a matter of degrees from just like most people (normal) to hardly able to function at all.
    it is not a crime and should not be thought of as wrong anymore than it would be wrong to condemn someone for having the flu.
    still I would not want them cooking in any restaurant I might eat in
    I do not know if Trump is nuts or not.
    He does not talk about reality at all.
    I have no Idea what he really thinks, all he ever says is bull shit some of the “best” anyone has ever peddled
    uncle frogy

  15. jrkrideau says

    #20 David Gerard
    Probably because too many on the DSM committee would qualify.

  16. A Masked Avenger says

    A LOT of politicians are assholes. But there are different kinds of assholes. Pretty much all politicians exhibit strong narcissistic traits–but only one politician triggers my PTSD, which was brought on by being raised by a malignant narcissist. Only one.

    I’ve met other people who trigger me, but no other politicians have managed to do it via their public speeches. If any of them have personality disorders, and odds are at least one does, they nevertheless manage to hide it in their public speeches at least.

    Whether Trump HAS NPD I’m not qualified to diagnose–but as far as I’m concerned that’s a unimportant distinction: on the one hand, he still triggers me; on the other hand, 100% of his behavior is either predictable or explainable by means of this hypothesis, including tics you might not notice if you weren’t raised by one. My go-to example is now that baby. “She actually believes I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking.” Adult children of narcissists have heard that one. Their parents resent their own grandchildren for taking the spotlight off them.

    This situation requires a fine line be walked. Diagnosing mental illness is inappropriate for anyone but the person’s actual therapist. But affirming the absence of NPD is ALSO a diagnosis–and one with potential to add to the suffering of people who bear the scars of having been raised by (or with) someone with NPD.

    Setting up an NPD/asshole dichotomy is also implicitly ableist. People with NPD can’t be assholes? Believe me, they can.

  17. kayden says

    Trump is dangerous and given his talk about a rigged election, he also appears to be delusional. Ascribing his bigotry to mental illness would be wrong, however, and would be an easy out.

    I thought 2008 was ugly but this election season is much worse now that we have candidates challenging each other’s mental fitness. Sigh.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    I was about to write that Trump has to be the prototype case for *some* disorder, then I read the link to APD :-)
    Thank you, David Gerard.

  19. JohnnieCanuck says

    Given how successful the Republican’s REDMAP strategy was and also their voter registration abuse, Trump is right. The election has been rigged. Where he is wrong is in implying that it has been rigged against him. when it has been rigged for him.

  20. Infophile says

    Whether or not we slap the label of NPD onto Trump isn’t going to change anything, so I really don’t see the point in debating it. It’s not like we’re going to convince him of the label and get him to see a therapist about it. He’ll just keep on being Trump, with or without NPD.

    Parkinson’s, on the other hand, is a more informative diagnostic, as it’s a progressive condition, so if there were seriously any reason to believe Clinton (or any other candidate) might have it, it would indeed be a point worthy of public interest, as we could keep in mind how it might affect her over the next four years. Of course, Shkreli is full of shit here, so his diagnosis isn’t worth the electronics used to transmit it.

  21. says

    “Crazy” is a lay term that just means “thought processes I don’t understand” or even “thought processes I’m not in sympathy with”. It’s not medically defined, and doesn’t mean that the “crazy” person is clinically ill. As such, I’m comfortable with it being used in reference to anyone: politicians, artists, me, you. I might not agree, but that’s okay; it’s implicitly a subjective assessment.

    Calling out Trump, for example, as crazy is okay. You can even detail those features of his stage persona (if that’s different from his real-life persona) that make you say, “That’s crazy!” I’ll even give a pass to anyone who’s had experience of people with certain conditions saying that Trump acts like their NPD relative, say.

    But it crosses a line when lay people go through medical textbooks trying to match up observed features of others’ personalities with diagnosable psychiatric conditions. It’s obnoxious, and wrong on two counts: if one isn’t trained in it, one shouldn’t do it, because it’s too easy to get wrong; and it’s unethical for the trained to do diagnosis remotely using only anecdata, so doubly unethical if one isn’t trained.

    Plus, you just make yourself look stupid when you extend your lack of expertise to diagnosing physical conditions like Parkinson’s on the basis of bullshit. That’s the same as writing that Trump has been abusing amphetamines or whatever drug for years; no solid basis in fact, just a smear. And a transparently obvious one at that.

  22. cartomancer says

    I think we’re looking at two different phenomena here – armchair diagnosis on the one hand and using mental illness terms as insults on the other. Both are problematic, but they’re not the same thing.

    What the odious Mr. Shrekli is doing seems to be genuine armchair diagnosis – thinking you have some insight into another’s mental health and pontificating about it. It may well involve an element of trying to diminish or insult Clinton too, but the motivation behind it is the conviction that one is capable of diagnosing mental disorders in others from afar and that this is an interesting and profitable thing to do.

    On the other hand, I don’t think most of the people who say “Trump is a dribbling loony” or “Trump is stark, raving mad” or even “Trump is mentally ill” are genuinely making an armchair diagnosis. They’re just using the language of mental illness in a time-worn manner to insult and belittle. Which is problematic of course, but it’s a different problem. The motivation there is just to insult and mock, and the usage is colloquial and vernacular rather than intentionally technical and specific.

    I think there is often confusion, given that a lot of words have both specific medical and general vernacular meanings. Calling someone a narcissist can just be saying they are very concerned with their own appearance and grandeur, not that they have a damaging personality disorder, and saying that an idea is mad doesn’t literally mean it stems from mental illness. Even very clinical terms can become vernacularised – a lot of people call fastidiousness or perfectionism “OCD” now for instance. One can complain about this, but that’s just how language develops.

  23. says

    Me @28: I meant to add, there’s plenty wrong with Trump’s behaviour and stated policies to make it clear that he would be an unsuitable, if not disasterous president, even worse than Bush II, without having to cross the line into amateur psychiatry.

  24. KG says

    or he [Trump] really IS suffering from NPD. – Ichthyic@2

    From what I’ve read, it’s very rarely the person with NPD who does the suffering!

  25. kestrel says

    We had a family member with NPD (diagnosed, and now deceased) and when Trump first came across our radar we were astounded at how well his behavior matched that of our family member. In fact it it almost felt like we were listening to our family member come back to life, and not Trump. Even some of his phrases are exactly the same. We sure don’t go around claiming he has NPD, because how would we know that, but after spending years around someone with NPD, the similarities are incredibly striking.

    A person with NPD can exhibit behavior that is really puzzling. To me it’s been interesting to read all these various analyses by political pundits about why Trump does what he does. I doubt that any of us are ever going to actually know, but his behavior does make a little bit more sense when viewed through an NPD lens. To us though it makes no difference at all; we are still not voting for him, no matter what. We simply don’t like what he is bringing to the table, NPD or not.

  26. says

    Those of us qualified to make diagnoses also have ethical codes which disallow making a diagnosis of someone we haven’t evaluated. A layperson calling Trump a narcissist is different from a mental health professional saying he has NPD.

  27. Infophile says

    To follow on from my previous comment at 27, it occurs to me that what a lot of people might be doing in trying to label Trump is to be able to use the stigma attached to that label as a weapon against him. Defeating Trump is one thing, but you have to watch out for the splash damage that can be caused by such efforts. If you add to the stigma of a label, you make it harder for people who meet its criteria to admit to it and be willing to get help (if needed).

  28. Matrim says

    Do you get mad when people without a medical degree recognize cold symptoms in themselves or others and say, “that sounds like a nasty cold!”?

    Yeah, actually, sometimes. “Flu” bugs me more, someone gets a little sick and suddenly they have the “flu” according to amateur physicians.

  29. handsomemrtoad says

    Am I the first one to point out that even if Hillary had Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s would not be an impediment to being a first-rate POTUS? Parkinson’s itself does not impair cognitive function or personality (although because it is largely a disease of the elderly, it is often accompanied by other aging conditions which do–but we already knew Hillary’s age.)

  30. lindsay says

    Defeating Trump is one thing, but you have to watch out for the splash damage that can be caused by such efforts.

    Yep. As someone with genuine diagnosed mental illnesses, seeing variations on ‘crazy’ being tossed around as insults makes me cringe. I am crazy, but, unlike Trump, I am not an asshole. ‘

  31. rorschach says

    What bothers me most about Trump and the 42% of Americans allegedly about to vote for him, is their reality-doesn’t-bother-us disorder. That scares me more than anything else.

  32. says

    The idea that Hillary Clinton has health problems has been pushed by rightwing media before. Now there is a new assault.

    In addition to Shkreli, the Drudge Report is re-running photos of Clinton slipping on icy stairs back in February. The Drudge Report says nothing about ice, preferring to focus on the fact that aides helped Clinton up the stairs. The rightwing blog American Mirror also re-published the slip from February, calling it the “latest evidence that the questionable health condition of Hillary Clinton should be a major issue of the 2016 campaign.”

    They are working hard to make this bogus health story a new anti-Clinton meme. “At what point is the mainstream media going to question Clinton’s health status?”

    WorldNetDaily and Breitbart News showed the “struggling to make it up the stairs” photos, claiming that what was really a slip on an icy spot was not that, it was a near-fall “as a result of her fragile body or perhaps because her well-documented brain injuries make it harder for her to transport herself through daily life activities.” Link

    Trump supporter Alex Jones went even further in an interview with Trump surrogate, Roger Stone:

    Hillary looks like a dying woman. […]

    She looks like she’s in bad shape. She’s got holes in her tongue, she looks like she’s got, I’m sorry, Down syndrome whenever she’s out there with the balloons falling, like she’s a three-year old with a lobotomy. What’s going on with Hillary? […]

    ROGER STONE: I think she’s either had a small stroke or she has had some other disorder. Those strange glasses she was wearing for a while, kind of a tip-off. She seems to have no stamina whatsoever. So I think it is probable that she’s got very serious health problems.


    Expect Trump to make a big deal out of Hillary Clinton’s health. He has already claimed that she exhibits “low energy,” that she takes a long time in the bathroom, and that she has no stamina.

  33. says

    Some pushback from mainstream media:

    Mainstream media quickly dismissed the charge that the pictures [of Hillary Clinton slipping on the stairs] are evidence of a health issue as a “conspiracy theory,” with CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter tweeting, “The photo is from February 24. She slipped,” and writing on that the reports show “how easily photos can be distorted to take on a new and more sinister meaning.” He added that the “blog post failed to note that the photos were six months old, or that the Getty caption indicated that Clinton simply slipped while walking up the stairs.” The Daily Mail explained that the photo “is falsely being presented as some form of proof” that Clinton “is in poor health.”

  34. says

    She seems to have no stamina whatsoever.

    LOL. She’s been running a national election campaign for almost an entire year.

    Diagnosing Roger Stone and Alex Jones would be an interesting exercise.

  35. consciousness razor says


    Eh. Trump and his fans are assholes. Given that there are tens of millions of them, you can’t argue that they’re all crazy.

    Why would anybody argue that? It doesn’t have to be true of his “fans,” in order for it to be true of Trump himself.

    Unless you want to also argue that insanity is a universal human condition.

    I don’t get this either. There are billions of people. A claim about some tens of millions, if for some reason that were the sort of claim you’re making, wouldn’t need to be a claim about a human universal.

  36. moarscienceplz says

    Well, all the old white people in the GOP who seem to think that the votes of old white people alone would be sufficient to elect a president DO have a warped view of reality, but as PZ pointed out, this is far too common an affliction to be considered abnormal.

  37. unclefrogy says

    She looks like she’s in bad shape. She’s got holes in her tongue,

    does he expect anyone to believe he has looked into her mouth close enough to have actually seen holes in her tonge?
    all of this shit sounds way to similar tactics used by Trumps mentor Roy Cohn
    the lying cheating ruthless infamous lawyer.
    uncle frogy

  38. says

    This smear campaign directed at Hillary Clinton’s health has really gone too far. And it is getting worse by the day:

    Hillary Clinton supposedly has Parkinson’s disease, syphilis, brain damage, a brain tumor, autism, a degenerative disease that is giving her seizures and/or strokes, and a blood clot, according to InfoWars writer Paul Joseph Watson. Oh, and he says she has a drug problem.

    All of these diagnoses—save for Parkinson’s, which commanded a separate full-length article—came in a single one of Watson’s YouTube videos released on Thursday. It now has over 1.6 million views at press time. […]

    The National Enquirer posted a story dubbed “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Health Crisis” on Monday. […]

    By midday on Monday, the No. 2 trending Google search about Hillary Clinton was: “Is Hillary having health problems?”

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity devoted a section of his program to the rumors of bad health last night. CNN’s Jeffrey Lord then doubled down on national TV, saying that “Donald Trump is willing to point out other things people have been pointing out for years” when asked about Clinton’s health.

    Those “people” are, in this case, writers like Watson, who certainly isn’t the first to question Hillary’s health in the last few months […] Watson is a writer at InfoWars and […] his own offshoot website, PrisonPlanet, runs a YouTube channel with nearly a half-million subscribers.

    Within minutes of posting to Youtube, Watson’s video was at the top of /r/The_Donald, a heavily moderated Reddit community that serves as a clearinghouse for pro-Trump talking points and conspiracies against Clinton. […]

    Watson told The Daily Beast […] “I didn’t ‘WedMD’ anything. I spoke to health experts in private and I collated statements made by health professionals that were already part of the public record,” he said.

    One of the rare “experts” Watson cites on record is Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive who raised the price of the lifesaving HIV drug Daraprim by over 5,000 percent overnight and is currently out on bail after being indicted on charges of securities fraud.

    Shkreli, who resigned as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals in December, is the lone source in the article “Pharmaceutical Exec: Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease.” […]