It’s a “gag rule” that mental-health professionals have followed for 44 years: It’s unethical for psychiatrists to “diagnose” politicians or public figures based solely on that person’s public actions or statements, without conducting an actual in-person examination.
But now that Donald Trump is president, a national psychology organization has given psychoanalysts the green light to publicly comment on Trump’s mental health. And the move could usher in a flood of mental-health “experts” on TV news programs claiming the president is unstable or even unfit to serve in the White House.
Without ever having examined Trump, psychological professionals already have called the president “psychotic,” “narcissistic,” “paranoid,” “hypomanic,” “emotionally unstable,” “delusional” and “psychologically isolated” and claimed he has a “dangerous mental illness.” One physician suggested Trump could be suffering from an untreated sexually transmitted disease known as neurosyphilis.
Some mental health “experts” have even gone so far as to call conservatism a mental illness, claiming prominent Republicans have shown signs of denial, delusion, hallucination, disordered thinking, anger, anti-social behavior, sexual preoccupation, grandiosity, general oddness and paranoia.
And in what appears to be one of the left’s latest lines of attack against the president, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have already proposed creation of an 11-member panel that could oust Trump for being mentally or physically unfit for office.
Amid all the anti-Trump madness and crazy talk, the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association, or APsaA, announced in a July 6 email that it will allow its 3,500 members to speak more openly about the president’s mental health. The email noted that its “ethical code concerns clinical practice, not public commentary.”
The purpose for the group’s email announcement was “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behavior,” APsaA past president Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a Chicago psychiatrist, told health news website Stat News. “We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly.”
Gourguechon told the publication mental health practitioners have a great responsibility to share their insight “since Trump’s behavior is so different from anything we’ve seen before” in a U.S. president.
The move appears to relax ethical restrictions established by the Goldwater rule, a guideline originally put in place by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 after Fact magazine reported that a group of 1,189 psychiatrists claimed then-presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater was “psychologically unfit to be president” in 1964. Goldwater sued the magazine for libel and was awarded $75,000 in damages.
The American Psychiatric Association re-affirmed its support for the Goldwater rule in March. APA President Maria A. Oquendo said, “It was unethical and irresponsible back in 1964 to offer professional opinions on people who were not properly evaluated and it is unethical and irresponsible today.”
Dr. Leonard Glass, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, told Stat News that the media and government officials “have been stumbling around trying to explain Trump’s unusual behavior,” from his tweeting habits to his exaggerated belief in his own importance. Deterring mental health professionals from weighing in on Trump’s mental state, he said, deprives the public “of our professional judgment and prevents us from communicating our understanding” of his mental well-being.
The APsaA told the New York Daily News Tuesday that it is not encouraging its members to go against the Goldwater rule. The association said it’s giving mental health experts the green light to comment on public figures’ mental health, but not to officially diagnose them.
“Rather, it articulated a distinct ethics position that represents the viewpoint of psychoanalysts,” the APsaA said in a statement. “The field of psychoanalysis addresses the full spectrum of human behavior, and we feel that our concepts and understanding are applicable and valuable to understanding a wide range of human behaviors and cultural phenomenon.”
Not everyone agrees.
“Encouraging psychiatrists and psychologists – who are just as subjective and biased and politically opinionated as everyone else – to make dire professional pronouncements as to the fitness of the nation’s leaders is not a great idea,” said David Kupelian, best-selling author of “The Snapping of the American Mind” and long-time managing editor of WND. “The flouting of the Goldwater rule is reminiscent of the New York Times’ announcement last August that it would be departing from long-held journalistic standards in its coverage of Donald Trump, because the Times sees Trump in such a dark light. Now we have leaders of this psychoanalyst association deliberately breaking with their former professional standards when talking about this particular president. I can assure you, a devastating case could have been made with regard to Barack Obama’s mental health when he was president, but most psychiatrists observed their profession’s long-standing ethics.”
Another key factor: The psychological and psychiatric professions have long been dominated by the left, at least at the highest levels, notes Kupelian.
For example, he points out that the LGBT movement succeeded during the 1970s in pressuring both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association to remove homosexuality from their official list of disorders, and more recently, to de-pathologize transgender identity disorder, which still has a suicide rate 10 times that of the overall population.
However, Kupelian said, even the former president of the American Psychological Association – the man who actually introduced the motion to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1975 – is now sounding the alarm about the left-wing politicization of that organization. Dr. Nicholas Cummings says the psychologists’ organization he once headed has become dominated by “ultraliberals” under the thumb of the “gay rights movement.” Since the mid-1990s, warns Cummings, the group’s positions have become based on “political stances” that “seemed to override any scientific results,” adding, “Cherry-picking results became the mode. The gay rights movement sort of captured the APA.”
While some of Trump’s critics have questioned the president’s sanity, Dr. Keith Ablow, a practicing psychiatrist and Fox News contributor, decided to counterbalance some of the many “mental health” attacks on the president in a column last February.
“Donald Trump is stone cold sane,” he wrote.
When a man acquires billions of dollars through complex real estate transactions, invests in many countries, goes on to phenomenal success in television and turns his name into a worldwide brand, it is very unlikely that he is mentally unstable.
When the same man obviously enjoys the love and respect of his children and his wife, who seem to rely on him for support and guidance, it is extraordinarily unlikely that he is mentally unstable.
When the same man walks into the political arena and deftly defeats 16 Republican opponents and then the Democratic heir-apparent to a two-term president’s administration, the odds of that man being mentally unstable become vanishingly thin.
And when that very same man attracts to his team the kind of intellect and gravitas represented (to name just a few) by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general and commander of the U.S. Central Command, he cannot be mentally deranged. Period. It is a statistical impossibility.
Those who assert otherwise are political opportunists, or fools, or both …
President Trump is the first human being to win this nation’s highest office without having held any other political office or serving as a general. Most political pundits thought his quest was pure folly. Most journalists assessed his chances as zero. So who was laboring under quasi-delusional thinking? Answer: Not Donald J. Trump. …
Ablow also referenced the soaring U.S. stock market, which reacted strongly to Trump’s election, in his concluding comments.
“If you’re still worried about the mental stability of the president, note this: The stock market doesn’t like instability. Investors, en masse, can take the measure of a man pretty darn well,” he wrote. “The stock market has hit record high after record high since Trump’s election, and if you think that’s an accident, or that investors have all been fooled, it’s time to start wondering about your own capacity for rational thought.”
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