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A Psychologist’s Perspective on Kanye West

Psychologist's Perspective on Kanye West
Dr. Rachel Kitson

A psychologist’s perspective on Kanye West

Kanye West is an interesting psychological case study for many reasons (yes, this is the thesis statement to which I finally resigned myself).  He’s probably most well-known for his controversial stunts, disorganized/grandiose rants, and the eclectic mix of celebrity pals, fans, and nemeses he attracts.

Most are aware of at least one of Kanye’s contributions to OMG moments in pop-culture, such as storming out of the American Music Awards in 2004 when he was not voted Artist of the Year; stating that George Bush didn’t “care about black people” post-Hurricane Katrina, and subsequently appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone in a crown of thorns; staging a sales competition with 50 Cent when they both released albums in 2007; his infamous stage invasion during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s when he announced that Beyonce, and not Taylor, should have won the award for best female video; his comparison of himself to Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Jesus, etc.;  his repetitive, and often nonsensical, declarations of his own genius, vision, and god-like attributes.  However when I started trying to aggregate Kanye blunders and  mishaps, I realized there is rarely a day that passes when there has not been a quote, video, or tweet of Kanye firing off insane rhetoric.  If I had to summarize or paraphrase his general talking-point themes, it would be:

  • psychologist’s perspective on Kanye WestHe’s misunderstood
  • He’s “mentally” (at least) 10 yrs ahead of everyone else
  • He has so much god-given talent that he just might be a deity himself
  • Nobody else is like him; he’s an individual
  • He’s a meta post-modern cross-cultural pop-star genius
  • He’s dope
  • He’s an artistic genius and if you don’t understand or appreciate what he creates and says you must be ignorant or un-evolved
  • He’s often “offended”
  • He’s a genius

ScreenHunter_201 Dec. 02 09.51He also talks a lot about self-esteem and his ability to influence and inspire young people.  If you came in contact with the recent Facebook app that scanned your profile and posts and generated a “status” for you as a “you-bot”—that’s how I picture Kanye’s process of generating discourse: He uses random words or catchphrases of words he’s spooled together, typically a mix of highbrow and lowbrow, and assumes that there is meaning to be had.  I imagine he sees himself as a wordsmith who throws words together, allowing “artistic license” to be the glue; anyone who is unable to attribute meaning or sophistication to what he says he then brands as critics. Unsurprisingly, pop-culture has pop-psychologized Kanye as being a narcissist, an egomaniac, suffering a god-complex, and/or delusional/out of his mind (those are the kinder comparisons).

Despite the criticism, it has to be recognized that Kanye has made significant contributions to music and pop-culture. Part of any psychological assessment is reviewing the personal history of your client and taking into consideration what factors have contributed to their world-view and schema. Hence I was curious to learn a little more about him before coming to any “conclusions.”

According to his Wikipedia page, Kanye’s father was a black panther–turned-photojournalist-turned Christian-counselor, who divorced from his mother, a professor of English, when he was three years old. Kanye spent some time in China as a child while his mother taught there, and he attended the Chicago American Academy of Art on scholarship before transferring to Chicago State to study English, and then finally dropped out of school at age 20 to pursue music.  Although he pursued recognition as a rapper, he was artsy and middle class, and did not conform to the “gangsta image” that was prevalent and marketable when he started out; he was reportedly denied record deals due to his lack of conformation to the status quo of the genre.

ScreenHunter_202 Dec. 02 09.53Those familiar with him seem to feel strongly that he is either a total self-centered quack or else a musical revolutionary. I waffle between the two camps. Upon review of his accomplishments and career, there is no doubt that he has opened doors for a number of current influential artists, being a young black man who refused to, despite an interest in hip-hop and rap, conform to the gangster rap image.  He raps blatantly of his Christian faith, and references a diversified music background indicative of an appreciation for hip hop, folk, disco, soul, house/electronic, classic rock and roll, and arena rock.  Part of his success is his drive to stand apart from everyone else and to continually re-invent/re-market himself.  But this moving target of image and genre also suggests a relatively unstable sense of self and identity.  Kanye’s tactic to gaining fame and notoriety seems to be to simultaneously bash and worship celebrity and to never shy away from controversy. In light of this—what psychological terms and concepts can be illustrated by Kanye?

Dialectical Thinking:  Holding two opposing points of view, both of which can be valid and consist of some truth.  How does Kanye do this?  He simultaneously rejects and worships fame.  He is an ascetic materialist, striving to be relatable to the common man, but also claiming to be the Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan of music, on par with the son of god.

ScreenHunter_203 Dec. 02 09.55

psychologist’s perspective on Kanye WestAttention Seeking and Reinforcement:  Attention seeking is when a person engages in behaviors for the sole purpose of eliciting the attention of others.  As a tactical devise, it is essential to marketing and promoting yourself.  People learn how to gain the biggest bang for the buck through trial and error.  In the modern world of surplus information and self-designated experts and talent, controversy and sensationalized content tend to get the most attention.  Kanye embodies this by not limiting the scope of what he is willing to take a strong stance on, and seems unconcerned with the credibility of what he does — “just do it big” is his mantra.  Society reinforces this idea of bad attention being better than no attention, and sometimes better than “good attention” by keeping the misbehaving and offensive celebrities in the headlines.

Narcissistic or Histrionic Personality Disorders:Excessive attention seeking behaviors are associated with the dramatic cluster of diagnostic disorders; and unsurprisingly many individuals who pursue careers in entertainment demonstrate these traits. Narcissistic Personality Disorder describes people who are excessively preoccupied by their own adequacy, power, prestige, and vanity.  They feel entitled and self-important, have a strong need for admiration, often lack empathy, and tend to display their beliefs and behaviors in grandiose ways.  Histrionic Personality Disorder refers to individuals who have a high need for attention and thus make loud, dramatic, and sometimes inappropriate displays or appearances; they tend to be lively, excessive, and dramatic; and crave stimulation and drama and react in exaggerated ways.  These traits are sometimes considered defenses against deep feelings of inferiority and fear of being unloved or accepted. While I don’t treat Kanye, and therefore would not offer these as diagnoses, there are undoubtedly traits of these disorders that he does a nice job of illustrating.  The problem is that in the “industries” of fame and celebrity, exacerbating or feigning these traits can contribute to occupational longevity and success.  It pays to act cray-cray.

ScreenHunter_204 Dec. 02 10.05Post Traumatic Growth: In 2002, Kanye fell asleep at the wheel and was in a near fatal car accident, after which his jaw had to be wired back in place.  Reportedly, this accident occurred after several record deal rejections. Post Traumatic Growth refers to the positive psychological changes that are experienced in response to highly challenging life circumstances.  The challenges are such that the adaptive resources of the individual are compromised and they are forced to re-evaluate their understanding of the world and their place in it.  The growth that results from the trauma refers to an experience of psychological improvement, which can be deeply meaningful and life-affirming.  The near-death experience led to a revitalized and uncompromising pursuit of his goals.  He used the experience as inspiration for his 2002 single: Through the Wire.

Identity formation: Kanye seems permanently stuck in the rebellious adolescent phase of “you can’t put me in a box.” Identity formation is the process through which a person comes to understand the characteristics in themselves that both set them apart as having a distinct personality but also help them affiliate with others.  Individuation is thought to occur during adolescence—this is what Erik Erikson refers to as “Role Confusion,” the process by which one discovers “who they are” and is able to identify core values and goals that will guide their future pursuits into adulthood.  Failure to “individualize” oneself leads to difficulties with forming shared identities and intimate relationships with others (e.g. Erikson’s next stage of Intimacy vs. Isolation in adulthood).  Emerging from adolescence with a strong sense of identity and personality better equips the individual, as an adult, to face life’s uncertainties and make decisions with conviction and confidence. Unsuccessful identity formation leads to “crisis” where an individual is constantly struggling to find themselves into adulthood.

ScreenHunter_211 Dec. 02 10.58God Complex: This is not a psychiatric diagnosis, but refers to an individual’s inflated and persistent belief in their inherent ability, privilege, and infallibility.  They believe that their opinions and beliefs are indisputably correct and refuse to admit error.  Kanye titled a song “I am a God,” so perhaps he’s polytheistic, but some have jumped to the conclusion that this is further proof of Kanye’s egomania (in conjunction with a number of declarations he has made in interviews).  However, the lyrics are more secular, of a more humanistic and naturalistic approach to conceptualizing a relationship with whatever higher power may exist, than religious. And while he may have inflated self-esteem and an exaggerated sense of his own importance, Kanye seems to be exploring faith and religiosity and his own relationship with God, rather than declaring that he is actually a deity.

psychologist’s perspective on Kanye WestThe Self-fulfilling prophecy: A self-fulfilling prophecy is a person’s belief or prediction of a certain outcome that becomes true by the very terms of the prophecy itself.  Under these terms, a strongly held false belief or delusion is declared true in a way such that the reactions by others and the individual ultimately fulfill it due to the positive feedback between belief and behavior.  For Kanye, by declaring a something like being as influential as Steve Jobs (when it’s still too soon), incites people so much that everyone is writing and talking about it – rocket launching him into relevancy, and thus influence.

So there you have it! And how can we not end this with Mr. Kardashian’s quote on life’s greatest regrets:

“My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live”

Interested in Kanye?  Be sure to check out:

Does Kanye West Need Psychological Help?

A Psychologist’s Perspective on the Kanye vs. Drumpf Presidential Candidacy 

Want more from Dr. Kitson? Check out:

A Psychologist’s Perspective on the Kardashians: All About Kim K. 

 Why We Love and Love to Hate the Kardashians

For a psychologist’s perspective on all things pop-culture and celebrity—please send/comment your recs & requests!

Stay connected: Facebook | @ShrinkTankTalk

About the author

Dr. Rachel Kitson

Dr. Rachel Kitson

Rachel enjoys blogging about pop-culture through a psychological lens. Topics of interest include celebrity culture, disturbing trends, social media, and other existential predicaments. She has been interviewed by Vice, Refinery 29, Expert Beacon, and contributed to Politini and Entertainment Shrinkly podcasts.

60 Comments

  • Yeah, but you called him Mr. Kardashian while his wife calls herself Kim Kardashian West. You are throwing shade and want people to think you are being objective and analytical. I’ve never been a Kanye fan so can’t/won’t even try to explain or defend any of his behavior but, clearly, Kim is glad to be his wife and he is glad to mold her into the one of his dreams.

    • Why does it have to be seen as a negative for a man to have his wife’s last name? Many men are taking on their wives last names. If she can be Kim Kardashian West, why can’t he be Kanye Kardashian West? Would that not also be a sign that he is glad to be her husband? I’m not a fan of Kim or Kanye, and when the time comes, I intend to take on my husbands name because I see nothing wrong with it. However, I also see nothing wrong with gender equality in name adoption (although the Government makes ridiculously difficult for the man to do). Actually I don’t know if I’d want to marry a man who didn’t think I was worth changing his name for, that would look at someone and say, “Shoots…I’ll take her name, as long as I can have her!” This article didn’t even mention Kim beyond the last name, so maybe instead of slamming the authors intentions you should consider your preconceived notions of equality, gender norms and emasculation. I mean it’s interesting how you can read an article about a man who refuses to be put in a box and then immediately admonish the author for not putting him in one.

      • Amen, I love this response. The author did an awesome job keeping it strictly about Kanye, that’s what we’re here to read about.

    • it’s like a passive aggressive type of writing. if you are a Dr, you should be a little more professional then throw shade.

      • Doctor you show you are not qualified to talk about Kanye when you state Kanye’s Criticisms are a negative personality trait. Doctor don’t you know all geniuses must be Criticized otherwise they woul not be a Genius.

    • Exactly. Also – so many generalized statements about him here. I mean, you’re “waffling” between the dichotomies- has it not escaped you that brilliance often comes with eccentricity? Why does he have to be silod into one without the other? What’s the problem here? This is mean-girl rhetoric, not compelling psychological perspective. Come on.

      • Exactly. She is analyzing, outside an appropriate diagnostic scope, the public persona of an entertainer. Yes his behavior can appear erratic aloof and megalomaniacal on stage or in interviews… so? This says more about her trying to gain notoriety than it does regatding Kanye’s mental health. Does a part of her long for fame and influence? Irony…

    • There are lots of people with kanye’s condition so have no attention to their issue. Does all life really matter. Everyone sees rewards but noone see the pressure. Just pray for him he has family like everyone else. I might be alone but oh well

    • I think because they’re famous without working for it – and that’s what many want or/and are confused by – initially, while now it’s also a consequence of their omnipresence.

  • I’ve been a fan of the guy since he came out as a solo artist and I think there’s too much attention and confusion towards him being a narcissist. I don’t believe this it’s a correct label at all – and if anything, Kanye almost perfectly matches the criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder. People with SPD often DO feel superior, misunderstood and genuinely want to be left alone to do what they truly believe they were put on earth to do (his complete confidence in his abilities are often quite humble, but expressed in a very blunt way which is where people get confused and see it as a god complex. The same goes for his “lack of empathy and almost autistic social abilities). He most definitely has other personality quirks combined with SPD which would explain his anger, frustration, etc.

    Kim Kardashian on the other hand, is a classic narcissist. The two as a couple make sense because they’re both self-involved in very different ways.

    Kanye most definitely knows he has schizoid tendencies, he’s a smart guy. My suspicions were confirmed when he put out the song “Power” and used a sample labelling himself as the “21st century schizoid-man.”

    He’s definitely the most interesting, exciting and misunderstood artist right now who’s big enough to be considered a “celebrity”. He’s very similar to Michael Jackson, who of course was very much a celebrity in every way, but above everything else, an amazing artist. It’s sad that he’s so often considered to be a textbook example of a narcissist because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • Kelly,

      Before I start I would like to state that my information is based on interpretation, extensive research and experience working in the forensic mental health field. Also, since this is only for case study purposes, it is obviously not a formal diagnosis. It is important to understand that without interviewing Kanye West directly, a formal diagnosis would be unethical and unprofessional.

      Now, on to the fun pop psychology part.

      I agree with others that Kanye West is a narcissist. More specifically, he is a cerebral narcissist. As far as Schizoid Personality Disorder, I don’t believe he can be classified as someone with Schizoid Personality Disorder. However, for the purpose of this post, I will comment on the “Power” song which I believe oozes with narcissistic verses.

      The title of the song “Power” and the album in which it is contained – “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” – in and of itself commences the narcissism. Power and fantasy are both listed in the DSM-5 as being narcissistic criteria.

      So as to ensure no confusion, the opening verse provides us with who he’s talking about in this song – himself; “I’m living in the 21st century.”

      Then he moves on to state “do it better than anybody you ever seen do it.” In this sentence he is, basically, referring to himself as the greatest singer/composer/rapper…whatever he prefers to refer to himself.

      In the third line he composes that there are screams from the haters and having a nice ring to it. In essence, he is stating that even when he is being hated on he is receiving attention. Being the center of attention and receiving attention are very big with certain narcissists.

      The fourth line states “I guess every superhero needs his theme music.” In this sentence, he refers to himself as a superhero, and the attention he is receiving from the haters is his theme song.

      In the second verse he verbally attacks Saturday Night Live (SNL) by stating “Fuck SNL and the whole cast.” He does not state why, but I suspect it’s for a parody SNL did on Kanye and Kim. As SNL made a parody about him I suspect his ego was greatly affected as facade is very important for narcissists.

      Further along in verse two he states that he embodies every characteristic of the egotistic. This is pretty straightforward. It is known that narcissists will admit to being narcissists.

      He then adds “He knows he’s so fucking gifted.” Narcissists, as well as other Cluster B disorders, are known to project their feelings on to others. Here, he is projecting his thoughts on to others, believing that that’s what others are thinking of him.

      In verse three he states, “at the end of the day, god damn it I’m killing this shit, I known damn well y’all feeling this shit.” In this verse he is straightforward with his thoughts. No need to expand.

      Narcissists are known to engage in sex and fantasizing about having sex with their self. Other narcissists are known to be borderline homosexuals. In verse three he states “I don’t need your pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick.” I’m not stating he is gay, however, he is stating he’s on his own dick, possibly meaning that he feels he’s the best thing ever to exist, no need to be consumed with anyone as he receives pleasure from his self.

      Further in verse three he goes on to contradict himself. Narcissists are known to contradict their self, even in the same sentence. In verse one he stated that he’s on that power trip; in verse three he goes on to state he’s not on a power trip. Perhaps, the power trip decreased by verse three? I don’t know.

      Also, in verse three he asks “where the bad bitches, huh? Where you hiding?” Narcissists are known for wanting nothing but the best things. Here he is asking for the “bad bitches.” Basically, he is asking where the beautiful women are at. Again, here he is concerned with his facade.

      The only “schizoid” statement I found was “I just needed time alone with my own thoughts.” However, after that comment he adds that he has treasures in his mind, but wasn’t able to open his own vault.

      Again, the song “Power” is definitely oozing with narcissism. As far as schizoid, I am not convinced he is. It might be that he appears schizoid since he believes he is special and unique, another DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder.

      In a different post, I will touch on why I believe he is a narcissist based on patterned behaviors.

      • this psychotherapist finds him nauseating. Agree w/you ‘pop dx’ most is just obvious, but his attention seeking behavior (gotta keep his name out there out he become more irrelevant every day) makes most ‘normal ppl’ want to puke/good job “doc”~~now, can u make the guy just go away, Please?? there was a time when we could have gotten him “pink slipped” to the State Hospital for lesser behaviors?? Oh, for the ‘good ole days.’ (send the wifey away w/him, just on general principals, hell send the whole K family and their ex’es,too. They’re all downright nauseating (which shall be in the DSMVI.)
        s

      • I think you guys are making the mistake of analysing his personality based on his music…music is a platform where one is free to venture into his fantasies. Doesn’t necessarily mean those are his actual concious or rather subconcious personal attributes.

        • John,
          You don’t think his personality bleeds into his music? I firmly believe his personality leaks into his music. Where else would his creativity come from?

      • Lol, the love/anger over Kanye is real! He’s isn’t really that bad. Just don’t pay attention to him, and he’d eventually go away..

  • He’s not Schizoid – Schizoid personality disorder is an uncommon condition in which people avoid social activities and consistently shy away from interaction with others. If you have schizoid personality disorder, you may be seen as a loner, and you may lack the desire or skill to form close personal relationships. – Source: Mayo Clinic. I can’t speak to his level of empathy however he seems to be pretty empathetic when it comes to his family, and fellow artists. He does show obvious signs of Egomania – which according to Wikipedia is also known as an obsessive preoccupation with one’s self and applies to someone who follows their own ungoverned impulses and is possessed by delusions of personal greatness and feels a lack of appreciation. Someone suffering from this extreme egocentric focus is an egomaniac. The condition is psychologically abnormal.

    • Okay, but I disagree and still think he’s a schizoid. I suggest you search “covert schizoid” or “secret schizoid” or “high functioning schizoid”. This is what Kanye is. His symptoms aren’t obvious but if you actually pay attention to what he truly says and what he believes in you will see that he’s very much a secret schizoid. There’s many famous schizoids – a lot of them artists, people who push the boundaries and are often many steps ahead of others. This is Kanye West. He couldn’t be further from a narcissist or even an egomaniac. Schizoids live in their own world but that doesn’t mean they cannot function in the real world. Please read more on the subject and don’t use Wikipedia.

  • One theory about Kanye has always made a lot of sense to me is that he is a character. But, the stuff he has done from 2009 onwards was in character, while everything before was the “real” Kanye. In 2004, he released “College Dropout”, which was immensely praised, along with his next two albums (“Late Registration” – 2005 and “Graduation” – 2007). But, in 2008, he released “808s & Heartbreak”, which was relatively unsuccessful and was talked down by the media, while at the same time being the most “real” of his albums, as it talked about his own personal heartbreak which was fresh in his mind as at around this time his fiancee left him (I’m unsure about that part honestly). After the release of this album, he created the character or Kanye West, his outbursts and various moments which, viewed at from the right angle, can be nothing but satirical of the modern celebrities lifestyle. In “Yeezus” (2013), he freestyled most of the songs on the album, saying that “No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative.” He’s basically saying that as soon as he opened up to the real Kanye in 2008’s “808s and Heartbreak”, he was shut down by the media, so he took it to the opposite end of the spectrum, the other extreme and became an extremely fictionalised version of himself in 2009, to gain the worldwide attention for his music that he always strived for, after he figured out that being “real” like he was in “808s and Heartbreak” wasn’t going to get him famous. Not only this, but seeing as he has to play such an outrageous character, he’s attempted to filter in some satire at the same time, just for him to have some fun with. If you look at his interview with Sway (2013), he says some of the most outrageous sh*t he’s ever said, but again, if you view it from that satirical point of view, it’s comedic genius.

    This isn’t 100% without its plot holes, such as marrying Kim Kardashian, which just doesn’t seem to fit in what the writer of the article and I am trying to say, but that might be a whole new conspiracy kind of thing. All this being said, this could actually be the real him, which is scary.

    Source: http://thelink.harding.edu/the-bison/kanye-west-fictional-character

  • Seems to me that there is a considerable behavior overlap between Kanye West
    and Donald Trump – certainly the narcissistic and histrionic aspects.

    • That is the most realistic and scary comment that can be made about the 2 – they r one and the same – both narcissists. The president elect (OMG) and Kanye actually met. they have so much in common. “i’m better than u, no I am”

    • That is the most realistic and scary comment that can be made about the 2 – (trump and kanye) they r one and the same – both narcissists. The president elect (OMG, sorry i had to gag) and Kanye actually met today. they have so much in common and so much to talk about “i’m better than u, no I am”. It’s one thing to talk about mental illness regarding kanye, but trump and him r so similar – scary – that he will be running this country. kanye wants to be president in 2020 – i can actually say, it can’t be any more dangerous than trump.

    • Exactly. Talent and mental illness are not the same. Narcissism and schizophrenia are not equal. The idea that this bizarre behavior which is textbook schizoid behavior at the least, is ridiculous. The God complex thing he has been showing off for the last few years concerned me from the outset. But, this kind of illness certainly can get washed over with the talent card. He went into psych care under a 5150 a few days ago. That’s not code for super talented! That’s a mandatory 72 hour hold! Btw, I have met Gene Simmons. He’s a very down to earth and nice man. Ego? You bet. Genius? Sure. Batshit crazy? Not at all.

  • I admire his talent, but he does try to be “the center of the center of attention” too much. Hopefully he can retain his edge and gain maturity over time.

  • Where i grew up we called his kind crazy. Kids like him would either get beat up or get completley ignored. But America likes stupid and crazy…..

    His early albums were legit and that is that. I belive white kids like hom because he is a white negro.

  • What drivel. This is a stupid puff-piece written by a gushing fan who lacks objectivity and presumably also lacks any qualifications in psychology. She’s a “shrink” in the same way that Kanye is “talented”.
    Kanye west is a rapper and therefore excluded from any list of talent that anyone has ever drawn up anywhere, ever. He’s a boring, narcissistic hack who married an amateur porn star who now whiles away her pointless life taking pictures of herself in the mirror then having them airbrushed.
    The only thing those two have in common is mental illness and their role in what will surely be the most bitter divorce in entertainment history. Kanye has nowhere near as much love for kim as he has for himself and vice versa. The only place you could possibly find people who are more pathetic is in their fan-base.

  • The fascination (borderline obsession) withKanye by Caucasians is so interesting to black peolpe. To us he is merely an average rapper who has has conned white folks into believing his elementary clothing designs and endless rants are some kind of art. He isn’t cool to us and hasn’t been since his first couple if albums. While I certainly am not attempting to speak for all black people, one can surmise by googling his name in any black news source that he is that mentally ill brother who needs help.and at the very least, to remove himself from his current circle of friends/family.

  • This man is Not crazy, or Psychologically ill. He realizes the masses are mindless, pretentious and superficial, and used the concert to speak out what he intended to. He is most likely tired as stated in his own words “F**K being perfect”. And stated that Obama is not himself and has to be perfect.

    He lashed out against the music industry for obvious reasons, because it is a market that uses musicians and individual in every single monetarily exploitable way.

  • In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association formulated the “Goldwater Rule,” which holds that it is unethical to diagnose someone you’ve never me. This is largely because, without the benefit of a face-to-face interview, including personal history, direct observation and interaction, you end up basing your judgment on far too much inference and guesswork.

    It’s also pretty arrogant, grandiose, and even disrespectful, when you think about it.

    But pop shrinks do it all the time, and the public gobbles it up. It’s much too popular a parlor game to go away. I just thought that, for the record, someone should mention the professional drawbacks to this kind of speculation.

  • BS aside, he appears to be either schizophrenic or at least presenting with schizoaffective disorder and possibly bipolar disorder as well. I would work him up for about 5 different DSM differentials ruling out as I go. He was just admitted on a 5150, so we can rule out just plain exhaustion. If he is sleep deprived it’s because he is off his meds and manic. What saddens me is the shame and denial that permeates this man’s life. He should have been admitted to a facility long ago, but the people around him are just adding to the problems. I hope he gets the care he needs.

  • I’ve always wondered if Kanye may have suffered some mild frontal lobe damage from his car accident. It seems like a lot of his behavior may be consistent with this type of injury. I suppose an important question is “what was Kanye like prior to the accident?”

    I’m not a particularly huge fan of his, but I do occasionally recognize the brilliance of his diverse musical catalog (BLKKK SKKNN HEAD is particularly fantastic, imho)

    • Al,
      I wondered the same thing about his car accident and any physiological/head trauma. From what I have read is that he was having a hard time getting record labels to accept his music. It is alleged that he didn’t sleep much prior to that car accident incident. Could the lack of sleep been a sign of mania/hypomania?

  • From a Psychiatrist:
    So many excellent comments and truly wonderful efforts concerning the construction of a formulation concerning this man! I reckon that fans of him likely have powerful insight into his development over time- and, additionally, have been pained by what appears to be a negative slope in his functionality.
    I believe that I have seen almost everything by this point in my career and have published in a tandem fashion to share with colleagues because no physician should have to step in the same holes which I have.
    Easy to say that he fits DSM-5 criteria for some complex mix of Axis 2 disorder; that said, what does it feel like to be a celebrity? It is likely mind-boggling. I have had many patients who underwent gastric bypass (sleeve/roux-en-y…or something less invasive like a lap band) and it predictably blew their mind because suddenly people “saw them” where as before they were anonymous.
    Dr. Judith is well-informed that an APA doctor (board certified physician- American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology) cannot render a diagnosis without having seen the patient.
    Mom was a PhD (likely narcissist) who died after a liposuction disaster. The drive to create this man’s body of work is beyond several standard deviations. Likely some genetic loading for bipolar disorder as well as Axis 2 traits.
    Most likely that maladaptive coping strategies (with his current wife) exacerbated his tenuous grip on reality which was already cooking due to mommy (object relations) content.
    I suspect that this man was ripe for a neurocognitive meltdown. In my humble opinion, time and stress drove him to this. It is unlikely that he is a complete sociopath… but dealing with his current family (heavy loading for psychopathic traits) broke him completely.

  • I find it bizarre that the possibility of Kanye having bipolar disorder a.k.a manic-depression, did not occur to you. The ‘me! me! me! I am a misunderstood genius!” rants look and sound one heck of a lot like hypomania – or even full blown mania – and given he was recently hospitalized at Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, that’s in no way out of the question and t would reconcile his havikng times when he rants on from a place of an inflated ego and bursts of creative genius. Many very creative people have suffered from bipolar.

  • After meeting him and talking for about 25 minutes, I found him shy, soft spoken, and missing subtle points. I thought he was on a mental delay that reminded me of schizophrenic persons. I now think he did have a psychotic break and has late onset disorganized schizophrenia. He had a lack of affect and his eyes had a deadness, and suspicious feel. I did not find him narcissistic or self assured. His wife Kim was kind, warm, and genuinely curious. She seemed happy, grounded and kept eye contact when listening. I can’t say that about most people in LA. I felt she truly loved kanye and understood him. I do think the Kardashian girls are care takers as the partners they chose have deep problems none of them exhibit. I wish them luck.

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