The "Goldwater Rule" amongst mental health professionals is a "longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures." It was created in 1964 after some psychiatrists answered a survey on GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater's mental fitness for the Presidency. The rule is this: it's not ethical to "offer a professional opinion about a public figure’s mental health, including the presence or absence of a disorder, without that person’s consent and without doing a standard examination."
Stands to reason. But according to STAT reports, the American Psychoanalytic Association recently emailed almost four thousand members to tell them they should no longer should feel bound by this rule. Why? Because they believe President Donald Trump is uniquely horrible:
The impetus for the email was “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behavior,” said psychoanalytic association past president Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago. “We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly.”
That responsibility is especially great today, she told STAT, “since Trump’s behavior is so different from anything we’ve seen before” in a commander in chief.
An increasing number of psychologists and psychiatrists have denounced the restriction as a “gag rule” and flouted it, with some arguing they have a “duty to warn” the public about what they see as Trump’s narcissism, impulsivity, poor attention span, paranoia, and other traits that, they believe, impair his ability to lead....
“In the case of Donald Trump, there is an extraordinary abundance of speech and behavior on which one could form a judgment,” [said Dr. Leonard Glass, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School]. “It’s not definitive, it’s an informed hypothesis, and one we should be able to offer rather than the stunning silence demanded by the Goldwater rule.”
Well, that's great. Now, we're going to have mental health professionals -- most of whom have never met the President or anyone who knows him -- waxing eloquent about his mental health. There's no way that can go wrong, right?
Stay tuned. If you thought "fake news" was bad coming from broadcasters, wait until you hear it coming from people with a PhD after their names.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr