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A leading psychiatry group has told its members they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures — even the president.

The statement, an email this month from the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association to its 3,500 members, represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior. It will likely make many of its members feel more comfortable speaking openly about President Trump’s mental health.


The impetus for the email was “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behavior,” said psychoanalytic association past president Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago. “We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly.”

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  • Psychological proclivities are sometimes hard to translate into actionable behavior. “They all deserve prizes” but none deserve the final word lest of all the psychoanalytic society. I have seen all types and am continually amazed at how personality quarks manifest themselves in different flavors. Trump is a case in point, but we can point to many, many quirky personalities known and unknown. Be careful being too “all knowing”, Hubris comes in many guises.
    Dr. Wilson

    • Trump isn’t quirky at all. He fits sociopathic behaviors to a tee. Not sort of or in a quirky oddball way maybe he’s one of those. There is a specific behavior pattern (and it can be spotted for most sociopaths on brain MRIs). He is completely standard issue sociopath in his behaviors. I won’t diagnose him, but I will address what his pattern of behaviors looks like.

      The first clue is the inablity to feel shame or apology. That’s not a decision he made (though he claims it’s one). That’s stuff that lights up in the brain of someone who has that pattern.

      For his supporters, that lack of shame signals to them that he’s an alpha and powerful.

      To his detractors, that lack of shame signals to them that he’s lacking compassion (which that is) and limited in social interaction skills (which he is, and which showed up in things like invasive handshakes), which then can be judged whether it’s a problem in a president or not according to the individual voter.

      But without knowing it’s a pattern normally doesn’t change… the voters were not aware when they voted that this lack of shame is a “thing” and not a temporary campaigning behavior.

  • I am a psychiatrist, and while not in total, in the main my own field more often embarrases me than not. Psychiatrists cant even make an accurate diagnosis on a person sitting in front of them, let alone by media drivel. More narcissists wanting to see their name in print. Not surprising Trump often diagnosis-narcissism. Funny if not sad. Would they be screaming about hospitalizing Churchill with his drunken strolls and hollering at the moon? Suppose this nonsense is easier than doing real research on the mind.

    • Churchill is not the current U.S. president with access to our nuclear arsenal. When a nation is in danger, those who can prevent it have a moral duty to speak out. Psychiatrists, as member of the medical profession, have also a duty to honor their Hippocratic oath. One can not honor it while cowing to silence and allowing a madman to endanger society, just as no president can honor his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution by violating it.

    • Anyone with any education can see the narcissism and grandiosity apparent in Trump. He can’t picture anything in the world without wondering how it relates to him. He seems to lack a whole lot of empathy. I work with more than a few psychiatrists who feel that Trump is too self-involved to handle his job

    • He’s textbook sociopath down the short attention span, and need for risk taking to get a sense of stimulation.

      Sociopaths use manipulative techniques such as gaslighting. During Melanie’s speech discovery that she’d plagerized, Trump tried gaslighting on the media. They didn’t know what it was and it took weeks to get any grasp on how to deal with it.

      If psychologists had spoken up about what gaslighting is, and that it’s common among certain personality conditions, AND HOW it effects non-sociopaths… we all would have been the wiser, and better informed to make our own judgements.

      Gaslighting is a form of lying that attempts to change the listener so that they no longer trust their own judgement and trust only you instead. It’s different from politician lying that’s about merely covering up some facts.

    • Howard- Or that of people who routinely ignore the outrageous insanity of someone in high places, and who continue to embrace that insanity, possibly because they don’t want to admit to themselves or others that they are either a) a racist, xenophobic sumbag or B) embarassed they were taken by a con man?

    • Howard – that’s projection. Trump supporters felt like losers and he made them feel like winners, so when he won, they assume that’s how the other side feels (like losers).

      That’s false. The other side doesn’t have concerns over being winners or being losers! They are deeply offended by Trump’s disrespect! (Pick a group or topic and he’s been deeply disrespectful on it.) THAT’s why they have a problem with him in office. Not because they lost, but because someone they perceive as dangerous and deeply insulting and hateful is still being hateful, insulting, and dangerous. If he got into pre-office (elect) and turned out to be a nice guy who simply did that gross stuff to get elected, you wouldn’t have seen the women’s march.

  • Interesting that it was started with comments about an extreme right wing candidate, and now it’s being protested with an extreme right wing president. Perhaps there is a problem with extremism on the right, which enables social dominants to get authoritarians to follow them, leading to a dangerous situation.

  • Well, when you are the only sane person (Trump) in the nut house (House full of liberals) you’re the one that appears to be the nut case. He’s not the one with the mental issues, it’s all the sick depraved and reprobate minded liberals that are the problem.

    The reason some people aren’t use to Trump’s ways is because they’re not use to somebody that is for God, country, and constitution!!!! If you think that way of thinking is a mental problem, then it’s you that’s the one with the mental sickness.

    • If you think that Trump “is for god” you are a fool and once this is all over remember this comment “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    • Walt, I believe you may need to seek help. Only someone that is either mentally unstable or completely brainwashed would think Trump and God should be mentioned in the same sentence. And what house is full of liberals? All three branches of government are controlled by the GOP, yet it’s the liberals fault. Perfect example of ignorance and denial.

  • So many uneducated people in this country speaking on something they absolutely know nothing about. Transgender people.. But you believe in a invisible figure that’s gonna come out of the sky to save you .seriously

    • People outside mental health fields have been slicing up kids’ genitals and giving them sex hormones for a long time because they believe intersex children have to be typified into a particular gender role. It is immoral.

      I don’t know to what extent psychiatrists prescribe sex hormones to children who identify as or have been identified as transgender; I would guess it’s not significant.

      But this article was about psychoanalysts, a subset of psychiatrists, who would be highly unlikely to engage in what you’re talking about. They typically don’t prescribe medications at all. There are very few practicing psychoanalysts. In most areas of the country it would be difficult to find one.

  • A change in the rule will broaden public comment & outrage & drive the conversation beyond established psychiatric principles of diagnosis & treatment. Ultimately likely to extend beyond POTUS to all public figures counterproductively to the interests of psychiatric medicine, diminishing medicine.

    • Yet the US is in a Constitutional crisis the likes of which apparently only some of the Founders ever came close to envisioning, as they did all they could to ensure no one unqualified and/or unfit could become POTUS. They perhaps did not imagine, or did not give enough credence to the thought, that one day an unqualified, unfit demagogue would be POTUS despite losing the popular vote because the Electoral College they set up to protect the country from such a person swaying public emotions of the relatively uneducated past sense would have been subverted into a mere party rubberstamping tool and that the other relatively educated people comprising the last ditch effort to avert that disaster would forswear themselves to install him as POTUS as they had become themselves treasonous underminers/destroyers of the Constitution/Bill of Rights in the pursuit of power and money. The massive irony of that may not compare to the irony of those with the knowledge to not only see what is happening but to understand it being prevented from a duty to warn, but the irony is there nonetheless.

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