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Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy wants Donald Trump's critics to stop calling him "crazy," but he's not coming to Trump's defense.

Instead, Kennedy says the label is demeaning to those with mental illness.

"'Crazy' is never uttered with compassion. I have never heard it used in the context of trying to get someone the treatment they need," Kennedy wrote in a column published on The Washington Post's website Monday.

The former congressman has become an outspoken advocate for mental health in the years following his tenure in the House of Representatives.

"Is Donald Trump experiencing a mental illness?" Kennedy asks. "I don't know. And neither do the commentators, tweeters and psychiatrists — both licensed and armchair — who've diagnosed him from afar as 'crazy,' a 'psychopath,' not 'sane,' having 'narcissistic personality disorder' and a 'screw loose.' What I do know is that we ought to stop casually throwing around terms like 'crazy' in this campaign and our daily lives."

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Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, has been open about his own struggles with mental health and addiction. After publishing a memoir last year, he told "60 Minutes" that he aims to remove stigmas around discussions of mental health.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.