American Psychiatric Association Tells Shrinks: Stop Analyzing Trump

'Unacceptable and unethical'

President Donald Trump / Getty Images
• January 12, 2018 1:15 pm


The American Psychiatric Association is pleading with its members and all psychiatrists to stop analyzing President Donald Trump, saying it is "unacceptable and unethical" to engage in "armchair psychiatry."

The APA, which is the largest psychiatric association in the world, released a statement this week decrying members of the profession who are violating the "Goldwater Rule"—commenting on a public figure's mental state from afar.

"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," the organization said. "Armchair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical."

The organization said it is impossible to diagnose someone from their tweets, adding that it "undermines the credibility and integrity of the profession."

"A proper psychiatric evaluation requires more than a review of television appearances, tweets, and public comments," the APA said. "Psychiatrists are medical doctors; evaluating mental illness is no less thorough than diagnosing diabetes or heart disease."

A shrink at Yale University hawking a book with 26 other psychiatrists who claim Trump's mental state "presents a clear and present danger to our nation" is leading the movement against Trump. Bandy Lee has been "summoned" by Democratic lawmakers to Capitol Hill for two days of briefings on Trump's mental health. Lee's main issue with the president is his tweets.

"We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress," Lee said.

Lee's book includes essays entitled, "Trump's Daddy Issues: A Toxic Mix for America"; "Trump Anxiety Disorder"; "Donald J. Trump, Alleged Incapacitated Person: Mental Incapacity, the Electoral College, and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment"; and "Donald Trump Is: (A) Bad, (B) Mad, (C) All of the Above."

The media have also joined in, with hours of cable news coverage questioning Trump's "mental fitness."

Trump's election did have an effect on the mental state of liberals, with a surge of new patients in Washington, D.C., following Hillary Clinton's loss. Psychotherapists said they saw an unprecedented number of patients expressing "anger, frustration, anxiety, [and] sadness" over Trump's win.

Psychiatrists' publicly diagnosing Republican politicians was the basis for the Goldwater Rule, created after the unprecedented attacks on Barry Goldwater's mental state during the 1964 presidential election.

The APA points out that mental health professionals diagnosed Goldwater from afar as "basically a paranoid schizophrenic," who "resembles Mao Tse-tung," the communist dictator responsible for the deaths of 45 million people.

"Not wanting to exclude other relevant 20th-century tyrants, another claimed, ‘I believe Goldwater has the same pathological makeup as Hitler, Castro, Stalin, and other known schizophrenic leaders,'" the APA said.

Now that Trump is facing similar attacks by members of its profession, the APA has had to reassert its commitment to the Goldwater Rule.

"The president is about to undergo his annual physical examination, and APA has confidence that his physician will follow the standard of care in examining all systems, which includes an age-appropriate medical and mental health evaluation," the group said. "If mental health concerns are raised, the standard of care would result in the examining physician seeking consultation from an experienced psychiatrist who would approach the consultation with objectivity and within the physician-patient confidential relationship."