Yale psychologist is giving Congress cover to declare Trump mentally unfit

Bandy Lee
Bandy X. Lee

CNN reports that:

A dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate received a briefing from Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee on Capitol Hill in early December about President Donald Trump‘s fitness to be president — and Lee has been asked to speak with additional lawmakers, worried about the President’s mental state, later this month.

Lee is editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which, according to Politico, includes testimonials from 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts assessing the president’s level of “dangerousness”.

In the Politico article, Lee is quoted as having been surprised by Congressional interest in her findings.

“One senator said that it was the meeting he most looked forward to in 11 years,” Lee recalled. “Their level of concern about the president’s dangerousness was surprisingly high.”

Lee confirmed to CNN her meetings with members of Congress on the issue:

“Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation,” Lee told CNN in a phone interview Thursday, “They know the concern is universal among Democrats, but it really depends on Republicans, they said. Some knew of Republicans that were concerned, maybe equally concerned, but whether they would act on those concerns was their worry.”

Interestingly, CNN asked Lee whether her public comments were consistent with the professional standards of a psychologist:

Lee’s public comments are highly unusual given protocols from medical professional organizations — including the 37,000-member American Psychiatric Association — banning psychiatrists from diagnosing patients without a formal examination. Under recent guidance from the APA, it is “fine for a psychiatrist to share their expertise about psychiatric issues in general,” but “member psychiatrists should not give professional opinions about the mental state of someone they have not personally evaluated,” according to an APA blog post. When asked by CNN about Lee’s comments, the APA referred them to this guidance. …
Lee made it clear that she is not in a position to diagnose the President, or any public figure, from afar. But she said that it is incumbent on medical professionals to intervene in instances where there is a danger to an individual or the public. She argues that signs the President has exhibited have risen to that level of danger.
Lee also claims that neither her research nor her statements are politically motivated.
“I am uninterested in partisan politics, I have never registered for a political party,” she said. “Ideology doesn’t interest me.”
Lee is either a terrible liar or extraordinarily naive. Given the fact that she is a psychologist at one of the nation’s leading universities, it would be reasonable to not consider naïvité as a viable possibility. Besides, to characterize any interest by politicians in identifying any way to remove Trump from power, given what has happened over the past eighteen months, as “surprisingly high” beggars belief.
It ought to be abundantly clear to see what Lee is doing. She, and the other 27 “mental health professionals” in the book she edited, are working to provide interested members of Congress sufficient rationale so as to remove Trump from power because he is mentally unfit to serve, as allowed under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
However, how she is doing it is clearly unethical. She is pretending to make a professional judgement (remember, this is based on her research, not her political opinion) about Trump’s mental fitness to serve as President. Absent Trump allowing Lee to meet with and examine him, Lee has no basis to do this. Any arguments she may make about Trump’s mental fitness is irrelevant. The only reason she is making these statements is to provide Congress intellectual cover to remove him from office.
Regardless of what one thinks about Trump, the Democratic (and perhaps Republican) establishment are playing an extremely dangerous game in working to use extra-legal methods to remove a duly-elected president from office, and Lee is helping them. At the very least, she should apologize for her participation in such a nasty process.
Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association has a huge problem on its hands. We have at least one example of a member attempting to use her authority as a psychiatrist to rationalize a clearly political move to remove Trump as president. How will it respond to this abuse?
Time will tell.

2 thoughts on “Yale psychologist is giving Congress cover to declare Trump mentally unfit”

  1. That woman is so disingenuous it inspires awe. There is no chance whatsoever that she became a psychiatrist without an interest in partisan politics and ideology. That is all psychiatry *is.* As Thomas Szasz put it in “The Manufacture of Madness:”

    “As the dominant social ethic changed from a religious to a secular one, the problem of heresy disappeared, and the problem of madness arose and became of great social significance… as formerly priests had manufactured heretics, so physicians, as the new guardians of social conduct and morality, began to manufacture madmen.”

    And one more from the late, great Dr. Szasz:

    “Psychiatry is institutionalized scientism: it is the systematic imitation, impersonation, counterfeiting, and deception. This is the formula: every adult smokes (drinks, engages in sexual activity, etc.); hence, to prove that he is an adult, the adolescent smokes (drinks, engages in sexual activity, etc). Mutatis mutandis: every science consists of classification, control, and prediction; hence to prove psychiatry is a science, the psychiatrist classifies, controls, predicts. The result is that he classifies people as mad; that he confines them as dangerous (to themselves or others); and that he predicts people’s behavior, robbing them of their free will and hence of their very humanity.”

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