Shrinks Should Shout

An article in New York Magazine (NYMAG.COM) today, 7/26/2017, makes a compelling case for psychiatrists to speak out against the President.

Because I have to remind myself: Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors who can prescribe medications. Psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy. There are over 37,000 members in the American Psychiatric Association and there are over 100,000 licensed psychologists in the U.S.

Psychiatrists, in 1973, instituted an ethical standard called the “Goldwater Rule.” The rule prevents them from offering psychatric opinions on people whom they have not personally evaluated. The article posits that many psychiatrists follow the rule because of the history in the Goldwater/Johnson presidential race. The printing of survey results in a magazine were deemed “larded with over-the-top, unscientific language.”

There’s a simple fix. Any tentative diagnosis based on publicly available information “must be accompanied by the disclaimer that without evaluating a patient in person, an official diagnosis isn’t possible. This, in turn, would allow for a greater number of psychiatrists to weigh in on Trump’s hateful rhetoric and self-absorbtion.

One does not need to be a psychiatrist to see that Trump is a “dangerous lunatic.” But a larger chorus of reasoned voices can simply point out the obvious. He incites people to act on hatred. He is self-absorbed and everything has to be about him. He cannot control impulsive, demeaning statements to or about anyone. He values truth, science and education with disdain. His world is positive or negative, black or white, loves it or hates it. Like Smeagol, he can turn into Gollum on a heartbeat. Apologies to Gollum who could, at least, form full thoughts and sentences.

The Goldwater Rule prevents psychiatrists from engaging in free speech. It prevents them from contributing to the discussion we need to have, today, about Trump’s lack of fitness for the Presidency. It institutionalizes a rule that creates the society we all fear in the Martin Neimoller poem; “First they came.”

As a parent and volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America, I am outraged that Trump saw fit to abuse our children at the BSA Annual Jamboree. He treated them like captives. Goading his loyal following to a frenzy while the rest of us had to stand by and watch.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, neurosurgeons and anyone else who feels bound by ethical standards should realize the consequences of not breaking the Goldwater Rule.


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NYMAG.COM: It’s Time to Retire the ‘Goldwater Rule’

How many psychologists?

Washington Post: Trump’s gratuitously political Boy Scouts speech, annotated

“First they came”

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© Copyright 2016 LawrenceJHolbrook.US. All rights reserved.

The above article is an opinion piece. If you wish to express an opinion about my opinion, please consider writing in a thoughtful way that can promote discussion on an issue.

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