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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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  • Please do not forget that Obama has many of Trumps facets not withstanding the fact that Obama is polar opposite let’s not forget that Gingrich as well as plus he have similar narcissistic findings and both have been house speakers temple for polar opposite’s. Issues not the current president yes you should be how can we avoid this from reoccurring since both parties are hijacked by colorful personality disordered higher office candidates

    • What facets of Trump does Obama have? There aren’t any that stand out from the psych field. I didn’t care for Obama. I believe his divisiveness was not the right tool to heal this country after Bush. But he was within normal range in his behavior.

      Trump is mentally unstable to the point where he either doesn’t know what reality is… or doesn’t care to know. That’s a different thing, than a little narcissism in a leader.

  • As a psychologist and a psychoanalyst, I found the article interesting and timely, although the headline is almost entirely wrong. The American Psychoanalytic Association is not a psychiatry group, and never told us we could ignore the so called Goldwater rule. What was made clear is that members of the American Psychoanalytic Association are accountable to its ethics code, not that of the American Psychiatric Association. The American Psychoanalytic Association has a long tradition of addressing social issues, and does not want to restrict members. In their email to members, the leadership said that “The field of psychoanalysis addresses the full spectrum of human behavior, and we feel that our concepts and understanding are applicable and valuable to understanding a wide range of human behaviors and cultural phenomenon.” Full disclosure: I am the Chair of the department of communication at the American Psychoanalytic Association.

  • I spent time yesterday researching the “White House Doctor,” since this person has the official duty of seeing to the President’s health. According to my findings, the White House Doctor is the director of the White House Medical Unit, which is part of the White House Military Unit. I could not find any info on the White House webpage about either unit. After further searching, it appears that the White House Doctor is currently Dr. Ronny Jackson (who was also the White House Doctor for Barack Obama). It would seem to me that this person would be responsible for determining the need for the President to be evaluated for mental health issues.

    Perhaps all of the mental health professionals in the country who feel (based on his behaviour), that President Trump needs to be evaluated should write to the White House Medical Unit. If Dr. Ronny Jackson personally receives thousands (or tens of thousands?) of letters from experienced, licensed mental health providers requesting/suggesting that the President needs a psychological/psychiatric evaluation, it might make a difference. This way, any mental health professionals who know they should not diagnose the President themselves, but still feels he meets the criteria for a diagnosis, might sleep better at night. I know I would if I were you.

    • Curls – I am not a healthcare professional, which is why I am asking your community to take an action which is within the ethical standards of mental health practices. Please do something – Trump’s behaviour needs to be evaluated!

    • Carol – I’m keeping it in mind for when I have time. However, it doesn’t need a professional to start it. Just needs a website, and someone posting and sending notes to various places letting professionals know that such a group exists. I will definitely be keeping this in mind.

    • Curls – I have written, via their “contact us” section on the webpages, to both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. Who else could I contact? Creating and managing a web site is more than I am able to handle.

    • Carol

      Here’s an idea of people to contact who would likely be quite interested:

      A professional group has written a book on the pathologies present.

      With the two groups you’ve contacted, if you have a chance, I’d look for their phone contacts or senior board members’ emails, and contact more directly… so that your idea gets attention.

      It’s been a problem that groups have been keeping quiet and telling their members to keep quiet. But writing concerns to the WH doctor is a great way around that. If you do get some writings, then letting the news know such as Rachel Maddow (because I can find contact info for her, and it’s harder to find for some of the others.)

      The book looks a little stoggy to me for it to be effective, but they’d be a great contact source. I do know they are considered well respected people by other professionals.

  • Thank you for your article. To clarify, you have confused, as many people can, “psychiatrists” and “psychoanalysts.” Psychiatrists complete medical school and residency training in psychiatry, and may or may not continue onto psychoanalytic training. Psychoanalysts are predominantly mental health clinicians with all kinds of training (psychology, psychiatry, social work, marriage and family therapy) who go on for further psychoanalytic training. This is a time intensive process that tends to attract deeply devoted clinicians who wish to be of great service to others. Unfortunately, information about what psychoanalysts are or what this particular group of them has said has been reported inaccurately.

    The President of the American Psychoanalytic Association, voiced concern today about the incorrectness of this STAT article, which states that members have been license to break the Goldwater Rule.

    Psychoanalysis has a long tradition of contemplating sociopolitical issues, which is quite separate from attacking a specific individual.

    The APsA President’s stated today that “…July 6th APsaA…posted a summary of a vote by your Executive Councilors and the Executive Committee’s confirmation based on that vote of the APsaA policy that the organization will speak to sociopolitical issues about which it has something relevant to offer but the organization will not make public statements about political figures.

    The article in STAT has distorted the intent of the Council’s and the Executive Committee’s actions and has put our public image as a responsible professional organization in question.

    I doubt we will ever know exactly who or what was responsible for the distortions published in STAT.”

    The president of APsaA went on to request that members seek to correct this error, as it has created fear and mistrust in many groups of people that APsaA does not wish to alienate: “I writing to ask you to correct the distortions in any way you find possible, in conversation with friends, colleagues or the general public. We have not encouraged our members to defy the Goldwater Rule. We have respected our members’ right to free speech with the idea they will use the privilege wisely.”

    It is important that the STAT author fix this error. Members of this organization are on the front lines of treating mental health, and are now receiving death threats. Thank you for your kind and prompt attention to this matter.

    In my view it has been demonstrated that in the current political climate it is wise to be careful about what we say as professionals. Hopefully analyst members of APsaA will pursue the question of what constitutes ethical and effective professional behavior in the public domain and work to raise the level of discourse, both among ourselves and in relation to the public, in these troubling times.”

  • A sad end for the once proud American Psychoanalytic Association, now irrelevant, politically corrupt, and passé. It was taken over by SJW non-physicians years ago and is now a sick joke, obviously lacking in professional ethics and scientific technology.

  • If medical groups (Psychiatry groups) in this case get involved in political issues in a partisan manner, then they can expect to lose eligibility as non-profit educational organizations and will no longer be tax exempt organizations.

    • Not to worry. No where in their standards or in this articles, are they suggesting anyone get involved in a partisan manner. Instead they simply suggest that this group of psychologists can share their expertise, and facts in their field without as much worry. Not at any side, but same as medical doctor’s share expertise. Such as after McCain’s diagnosis, TV brought on medical doctor’s to talk about it.

    • “Maybe he’s not crazy, maybe he’s just evil. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”

      That’s what makes it important to understand the personality condition of sociopath. They aren’t crazy, nor inept. They use those as covers so that people don’t assign the full level of malicious intent that they have.

      Those with training and experience know this. Most lay people don’t even know such a type of person can exist. They think sociopaths look evil. When they look very normal and warm and compassionate, except when they’re being nefarious, and use some form of inept or goofy to cover it up so you don’t even look for the real intent.

  • I find it incredible that a hundred years after Freud’s death, you still ignore the differences between psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalists. What does the title say? A group of psychiatrists. What association? The American Psychoanalitical Association. Is this conscious or uncounscious?

  • If this bunch sees a big difference between this and the last administration, it’s scary they received any degree at all, much less one where they can meddle in the minds of others.

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