American Psychiatric Assoc Calls for End to ‘Armchair’ Psychiatry on Trump

“Armchair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.”

The media is falling all over itself in questioning Donald Trump’s mental fitness in serving as president of the United States. He has responded in tweets that he is a “very stable genius,” but that doesn’t satisfy the press’s pre-conceived notions that he is unfit for office.

In light of all of this grasping at straws, the American Psychiatric Association issued a call on Tuesday for the end of all of this “armchair” psychiatry:

Today, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reiterates its continued and unwavering commitment to the ethical principle known as "The Goldwater Rule." We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media. Armchair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.

The APA, which is the largest organization of its kind in the world with over 37,000 members, can only enforce these ethics on its members, but still urges psychiatrists everywhere to respect the profession:

A proper psychiatric evaluation requires more than a review of television appearances, tweets, and public comments. Psychiatrists are medical doctors; evaluating mental illness is no less thorough than diagnosing diabetes or heart disease. The standards in our profession require review of medical and psychiatric history and records and a complete examination of mental status. Often collateral information from family members or individuals who know the person well is included, with permission from the patient.

In addition, the APA suggests everyone trust that the president’s doctors will give him a proper examination and will address any health concerns as they find them.

But by Wednesday, at least two psychiatrists had ignored the APA and violated the Goldwater rule, which was put in place after Republican Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign in which his mental stability was questioned by the press.

Dr.’s Bandy X. Lee and Leonard L. Glass wrote in Politico, “We’re Psychiatrists. It’s Our Duty to Question the President’s Mental State.”

“Trump’s mental state poses a serious danger that we must be willing to discuss and address,” they added. “[We] cannot stay silent.”