Politics, psychopathy and the duty to warn

US psychiatrists chafe at the Goldwater Rule which forbids them from expressing their professional opinions about President Donald Trump. Some want to label him a psychopath. But what does the term mean?

ST ILLUSTRATION: MIEL

What are the traits of a psychopath and why has this become a subject of urgent concern among American mental health professionals?

In casual conversation, a "psychopath" has come to mean anything and everything that we find repulsive - from a mass murderer to an unscrupulous businessman to a philandering partner. But in recent years, the label - along with "narcissist" - has taken a political turn in the United States, with mental health professionals applying it to President Donald Trump.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2020, with the headline 'Politics, psychopathy and the duty to warn'. Subscribe