Health and Wellness

Psychiatry group to members: Feel free to diagnose Trump with a mental illness

Donald Trump
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

A leading psychiatry group has told its 3,500 members they should no longer feel restricted by the longstanding “Goldwater Rule,” against speaking out on the mental health of public figures, including President Donald Trump.

The executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s statement “represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior,” STAT reports.

Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago and past president of the organization, said the decision was driven by “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behavior,” and that the responsibility to do so publicly is greater than ever, “since Trump’s behavior is so different from anything we’ve seen before.”

Dr. Leonard Glass, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, agreed, saying it was wrong to rob the public “of our professional judgment and prevents us from communicating our understanding” of Trump’s mental state.

Glass recently resigned from the American Psychiatric Association, after 41 years of membership, over its decision to stand by the rule.

The American Psychological Association, for its part, sits somewhere in the middle of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Psychiatric Association. It told STAT that while it “prefers” that its members not offer opinions on the psychology of someone they have not examined, it does not have a rule requiring it.

The Goldwater Rule came into effect after some psychiatrists answered a survey in the 1960s on whether Republican presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater was mentally fit for office.

Following STAT‘s report, the American Psychiatric Association has taken to Twitter to make sure people understand that it is not the American Psychoanalytic Association, and that they do not agree with their conclusion on the “Goldwater Rule.”

What do you think, should mental health professionals be free to speculate on the mental state of elected officials?

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