Psychiatric association disavows Bandy Lee’s arm-chair diagnoses of Trump

Earlier this week, I reported on the questionable remarks to the media and members of Congress by Bandy Lee, a Yale psychiatrist who raised doubts Donald Trump’s mental fitness to serve as President. Lee also edited a book that included essays from 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts making the same argument.

In that article, I asked whether the American Psychiatric Association was going to address this situation, seeing that a member of theirs was using her profession as a cover for a soft coup.

Fortunately, the answer came swift and strong.

As the Washington Examiner reports:

The American Psychiatric Association urged members of its profession to uphold its decades-long principle that psychiatrists should never offer diagnostic opinions about people they haven’t personally examined, in light of President Trump’s impending medical exam and questions about his mental fitness.

“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 group wrote. “Arm-chair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.”

The rebuke came Tuesday as politicians and members of the media were ratcheting up their rhetoric about Trump’s mental health. Earlier in the day, Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle unveiled legislation that would require presidential candidates to have a medical exam and publicly disclose the results before the general election. Joe Scarborough also has said on his MSNBC program “Morning Joe” that Trump has dementia, and more than a dozen lawmakers have discussed Trump with a Yale University psychiatrist who said that Trump was “going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.” The psychiatrist, Dr. Brandy Lee, who has not examined Trump, edited The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which includes testimonials from 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts.

But the association reminded its members that one of its core principles, known as the “Goldwater Rule,” has been in place since 1973 and states that psychiatrists should not publicly issue medical opinions about people they haven’t personally examined in a medical context.

“The Goldwater Rule … makes it unethical for a psychiatrist to render a professional opinion to the media about a public figure unless the psychiatrist has examined the person and has proper authorization to provide the statement,” Dr. Saul Levin, the group’s CEO and medical director, said in a statement. “APA stands behind this rule.”

While the APA’s statement didn’t call out Lee specifically, it is abundantly clear that the organization had Lee in mind. Further, Lee did not need to be reminded of the Goldwater Rule. CNN raised it with Lee, who came up with vague rationalizations to justify raising doubts about Trump’s mental capacity.

Interestingly, Trump addressed this issue head on by letting cameras into a meeting discussing immigration policy. As Politico reports:

For nearly an hour Tuesday, President Donald Trump presided over an unusually public negotiating session on the subject of immigration, running the meeting while TV cameras rolled in an apparent effort to knock down reports that he is less than a fully capable commander-in-chief.

Surrounded by 25 lawmakers inside the Cabinet Room, Trump held court over the meeting, alternately inviting Democrats and Republicans — by name — to address the bipartisan group. He ran point for 55 minutes over a relatively free-flowing discussion between lawmakers about the future of the DACA program, border security and the possibility of immigration reform.

This was a brilliant move. What better way for him to show whether he is mentally fit by opening up a meeting to show him at work.

In any event, it is encouraging to see the psychiatry profession decide to not get dragged into a soft coup.

Whether the media and other politicos decide to drop this idiotic issue is another question entirely.

I’ll take the under.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *