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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.

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  • If there is a mental illness at play, I propose that it is with those who would willingly destroy their own way of life out of hatred for a politician. Examples include: Those who defend the MSM in misleading and misinforming the public for political gain. Those who would support removing or ignoring basic conduct tenants of medical professionals just because they don’t like someone. Those who would rather this country fail than a political enemy succeed. This self-injurious behavior is the real mental condition here. I won’t call it an illness as I don’t think rabid hatred if an illness. Then again, it does seem to reach clinical levels in many these days. Maybe the best fit for this particular group of compulsive haters is is 297.1. (DSM-5)

  • So psychologists and psychiatrists should have a right to speak out just like everyone else? No medical privacy? No actual examination? No professional conduct? Well…OK. Of course, I get to decide that those who make a diagnosis of politicians they don’t like, based, more often than not, on viewing a few news clips, is a rabid quack and not worthy of my time, let alone a license to practice. You get to make your fake little public diagnosis about who you please and I get to judge your professionalism….just as publicly. Seems fair.

    • Amber – it’s judgement not on a few clips but on months of overt actions that are glaringly obvious to a professional. They still should talk about behavior not diagnostic conclusion. The public figure has a strong protection. He can get doctors on his side to point out how the other’s judgements are wrong. The point by the organization is that is how other medical professions do it. Like the nuts that claimed Clinton has Parkinson’s from a video where it was obviously her making a joke about reporters in her face…

  • Fact1: to be a doctor or a dentist you must ‘take and pass’ many Tests
    Fact2: to be an architect or an attorney you must ‘take and pass’ many Tests
    Fact3: to captain a plane you must ‘take and pass’ many Tests
    Fact4: to captain a submarine you must ‘take and pass’ many Tests
    Fact5: to captain a ship you must ‘take and pass’ many Tests
    Q: to captain America you don’t have to ‘take and pass’ any Tests?

  • All this will do is put a name to the behaviors Trump opponents already noticed and decrease the respect Trump supporters have for the psychoanalysis industry. And yes, I expect there will be a pool on either side of the political debate whose politics inform their diagnoses.

    But hey, a group of elites can now freely expound publicly and feel more elite.

    • Mike S- it can do a lot more than label. It can draw lines through behaviors to connect them and make the understandable as a known pattern.

      For instance, the label sociopath tells you that the person will likely act and even be incompetent, and use that impression by others of them, …. as cover for their more manipulative behaviors. No one thinks someone seeming unknowledgable can also be strikeingly manipulative. So learning that about the pattern of behavior’s he uses, can be new and useful to know information.

      As for those who think he’s wonderful without flaw and that every flaw is a perfection… that too is typically what happens to some people around this type of personality. Maybe more exposure will help us all understand all of these patterns, including the abusive variations. Information isn’t to be feared, even if it’s not absorbed by some.

  • The problem here is the possibility of political bias. If one were to offer analysis based upon inference, is there an ethical need to note such bias, and should all politicians be analyzed to ensure an informed electorate? If one were to analyze Trump, what about Hillary, Maxine, Nancy, and Chuck? I would contend, for example, that Nancy Pelosi is at least in the beginning stages of senile dementia, should one agree with that diagnosis, is there an ethical need to make such diagnosis public? Or is political belief possessed of greater ethical importance? This is extremely dangerous territory for the psychiatric community as it has the potential to label the community as politically active in its work. If a proponent of any political stance is labeled insane it WILL be used as political ammunition, and the responsibility will be yours. Ask some history professors for likely results of political adversaries being labeled insane. Mass incarceration and pogroms​ are a real possibility.

    • Agreed,
      if it’s supposed to be good for one, why not all? Of course if you turn the tables and apply the same to Hillary, Nancy, Chuck, etc. those in favor of having it done to Trump will will be up in arm wanting it to be shut down.

    • Agreed. I think they shouldn’t release the rule but adjust it. So that professionals can talk about a “behavior is often part of a pattern of this nature” and then people can judge from the behaviors whether the pattern does indeed exist. It’s a way to put out a theory on someone and the public can assess the theory. As contrasted to just putting out a final conclusion and label.

      I am hoping this release on this rule simply gives more psychologists more comfort at doing what I just described. They won’t even do that – and that’s a withholding of useful information they have about human behavior patterns that lay people tend not to have a clue about.

      (How many years did it take to convince the public that sex offenders are in it for the power, not the sex? That kind of thing should be talked about, and reference to specific events or people can be helpful to making it clear.)

  • There is never an excuse to violate your ethics. If it’s wrong to do to someone you like, it’s wrong to do to someone you hate. The point of this rule is that you are NOT acting as a professional when you weigh in on someone without actually examining them. When you weigh in without actually doing the proper examination, it’s abusing the perceived authority of your title to give weight to your personal opinions. You wouldn’t diagnose a patient based on video clips of them. Don’t imagine you can do the same with a politician just because he seems like a threat and you can make a partial pattern association with his behavior. And how are we to trust you with our mental care if you let your political fears cloud your professional judgement to such an extent that you would violate both consent and privacy? Trump may be politically scary, but this reactionary “anything goes” BS is FAR more frightening.

    • You shouldn’t diagnose without exam. What’s happened that’s too restrictive is that the profession won’t talk about overt behavors and their possibilies of what patterns they may fit into. If a politician slurs their speech repeatedly, you wouldn’t diagnose them, but you might point out that there’s some possible diagnoses and that someone should look at them.

      In other words, there’s a middle ground that this rule has made too restrictive. Doesn’t mean swing to the other direction of random diagnoses, but still plenty of room to talk.

  • Most of us know that Trump is mentally ill, except for his supporters, who will support him no matter what. Even during the campaign when Trump said:

    “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

    His supporters cheered vs taking a step back. That statement in itself gives you a good insight into his mental state. Trump is a very sick man. Every speech he gives is narcissistic and bullying. Trump does not have a clue how to run the country; all he cares about is making his family richer. He’s a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of person. Trump is very unfit to be POTUS.

    • Please, put down the remote and stop watching fake news CNN. They have you brainwashed. If Hillary had been an R you would be bletting negative comments about her that the MSM fed you.

  • I HATE our current president, but this is not a good decision. A psychiatrist’s duty is to their patients. Period. Trying to justify political action behind a made up duty to others is reckless and undermines the psychology field as a whole. A psychiatrist should only provide insights into people they actually treat, and only then confidentiality is not breeched.

    • I strongly disagree. There is more than enough evidence in the public record for experts to offer informed opinions on Trump’s mental state. Many journalists simply do not understand the mental issues driving his behavior, and the psychiatric profession can help with that. As recently as yesterday, at least one mainstream media outlet was discussing the possibility of Trump “pivot” to rationality, as though that were something he’s actually capable of. We need experts to be free to talk about why that is never going to happen.

      This is not about “trying to justify political action.” It’s not about prescribing a course of action at all. This is about explaining the simple realities facing us in this situation. We are all threatened by this one man’s mental illness. It is very much our concern because he has made it our concern.

    • No single public person is worth the dangerous precedent this would set. Reviewing the last election, what if voters had been bombarded with conjectural diagnoses from both sides? “Clinton is a Borderline Personality with hysterical delusions!” “Trump is a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur!”. This reversal will only muddy the political waters even more. It won’t help. For every psychiatrist who ventures an opinion, on from the other side will counter the argument, or smear the other side. Dr. Drew was roundly and correctly chastised when he ventured an ‘informed opinion’ on Hilary Clinton’s health during the campaign. Venturing diagnosis or ‘informed opinions’ on public figures is a no-win scenario.

    • This sentiment is exactly right. I find it disturbing that anyone thinks that they can accurately diagnose and make public comment on someone who they are not actively treating. The moronic comments from folks in this forum who believe there is some higher calling to the republic have no grasp on political history let alone any sense of professional boundaries and ethics.

    • Psychologists go public and explain patterns of behavior all the time. And we all learn from them.

      Ex Magazine articles about whether you’re depressed. Trump’s behaviors fit specific patterns. One doesn’t have to diagnosis him to talk about the patterns he uses and let us all learn, and decide for ourselves.

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