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What Do Kanye West’s Rants Reveal About His Mental State?

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(Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

(Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Erik Parker
Erik Parker
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Kanye West has been making news with his European Tirade Tour where he empties his thoughts onstage and unburdens himself of his opinions on life, art, and the perils of being a genius. But for the most part, he simply rages against the machine.

The rants are given prominent placement in West’s sets. He yells, screams and weaves rhymes into his conversation to make his points. In February, he hit London and Paris and he blasted the Academy for not giving what he deemed his fair share of GRAMMY awards. He pointed to race as the issue.

“I love white people, but I actually never won a GRAMMY against a white person,” he said. He was determined not to let the injustice get “swept under the rug.”

While fans at Kanye West’s shows seemed to respond favorably to his pronouncements, the wild actions raised concerns in others–including those in the mental health field–who have questions about the rapper’s mental wellbeing.

“He’s a rapper and outspoken and giving some kind of emotional rant,” said Dr. John Sharp, author of The Emotional Calendar: Understanding Seasonal Influences and Milestones to become Happier, More Fulfilled and in Control of Your Life. “It could be a reaction against money against corruption.”

“He could be putting his feelings out there as if they are alive in someone else and not him,” Dr. Sharp explained to Radio.com. “There is something called projective identification. It’s when you are railing against something that you perfer to rail against rather than relate to. If you are angry you might see an angry guy and say that guy is really angry.”

While Dr. Sharp is careful to point out that he cannot diagnose Kanye by watching a few tapes of what seems to be unusual behavior, he does say that people who use projective identification can learn to cope with their feelings in a more productive manner.

“Maybe [his girlfriend] Kim Kardashian could sit him down and say, ‘Hang on don’t you think you feel a little of that yourself?’” Dr. Sharp explained. “With the right kind of support and without challenging too much, you might be able to get them to drop their guard.”

The American Psyciatric Association will be coming out with an updated version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM5), the first update in ten years. The new edition, Dr. Sharp said, reworks the Personality Disorders.

“What the field as a whole has embraced is a five-dimensional model of personality types: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness,” Dr. Sharp explained. “If you are looking at someone who is ranting like Kanye was doing and not caring about the toes he’s stepping on, you wonder if he’s in that first group [neuroticism].”

While West’s recent emotional outbursts may come off as unusual by anyone not Kanye, Dr. Sharp admits that West may very well not be suffering a disorder at all.

“Maybe these actions are just traits of his personality that aren’t a disorder,” he said.

Could be just Kanye being Kanye.

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