If you are a mental health professional who has had experience diagnosing and treating numerous clients (like I have), and are inclined to do so, you should not be constrained by the Goldwater rule:
The Goldwater rule is the informal name for a precept of medical ethics promulgated by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). It forbids psychiatrists from commenting on individuals' mental state without examining them personally and being authorized by the person to make such comments. The rule has no official name; it is simply Section 7.3 of the APA's ethics principles.
The issue arose in 1964 when Fact magazine published the article "The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater." The magazine polled psychiatrists about American Senator Barry Goldwater and whether he was fit to be president. In Goldwater v. Ginzburg Goldwater filed a libel suit in response to the article, he won $75,000 in damages.
The "rule" was not followed during the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign with psychiatrists and psychologists declaring the Republican candidate unfit for the office.
The rule itself reads:
On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement. Wikipedia
It is illuminating to know that some of the mental health professionals refusing to label Trump with a psychiatric diagnosis (and explaining what they base this judgment on) aren’t all primarily clinicians. They may be professors with impressive looking resumes. But that doesn’t mean they’ve diagnosed and treated thousands of patients and are familiar with, and have used, the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) since the first edition, when it was a cheap little booklet in a plastic binder.
There is a good case to be made that it is unethical not to weigh in on Donald Trump with a diagnosis, and lend the credence of the mental health profession to a profile of the man who wants to be president.
More than any other candidate in history he has given evidence of his personality, including from the author who spent 18 months with him while writing “The Art of the Deal” and the author who studied 600 of his Tweets. He is the least guarded candidate in memory, presenting the diagnostician with more information than could be gathered in a face-to-face assessment where he’d try to present himself in a better light.
George Simon, a clinical psychologist who specializes in manipulative personalities, told Vanity Fair that Trump is “so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics.” He went on to say that without Trump, he “would have had to hire actors and write vignettes,” to illustrate the narcissistic personality disorder for his students. He described the candidate as “a dream come true,” at least from the perspective of having a boatload of free material to use during student lectures. Vanity Fair
I want to share that I have been personally BANNED (by the founder) from posting anything on the 1,200 member "members only” private mental health Facebook page focused on Trump’s unfitness to be president. The founder of the site, who was mentioned in a NY Times article and has been on the Diane Rhem radio show, won’t allow any debate among his mental health professional online members to even debate the exceptions to the Goldwater rule, which says psychiatrists should not diagnose public figures from afar no matter how helpful lending their expertise to help public understanding.
How democratic is that?
Mental health professional are forbidden to debate on a private Facebook page just for other mental health professionals? It makes perfect sense for me to be able to debate Trump’s diagnosis, and the wisdom and ethics of sharing it publicly, among other mental health professionals privately online just as you would in your office or living room.
The psychologist who runs the Facebook page wants all mental health professionals to use the word “Trumpsim” and dance around making an actual diagnosis. The words that define Trumpism fit cozily into a diagnostic assessment of psychiatric disorders paraphrased right out of the DSM-5. But we’re just not supposed to point this out. Of course this leaves it to anyone interested to plug everything they know about him into the DSM-5, as uncountable people have done especially for narcissistic personality disorder and other disorders.
Some psychotherapists want you to believe the profession is open to debating controversial subjects. Unfortunately I find some therapists to be elitist (only THEY can make a diagnosis), arrogant, and dogmatic… they don’t want anyone to know that a empathic bartender can be as good or better therapist than someone with a string of degrees after their names.
Fortunately I am not alone in my views:
So instead they come out clearly speaking as mental health professionals, not private citizens, and declare him unfit for office. In other words, they try to adhere to the Goldwater rule by not making an actual diagnosis, leaving it for no doubt hundreds of thousands of non-therapists to look up narcissistic personality disorder online. So while not actually breaking the letter of the Goldwater rule, they certainly break the spirit.
As always, I will no longer respond to comments that lambast me for being insensitive, for stigmatizing mental illness, or for being unethical unless a respectful case is made as to why my position is unethical.
I will ignore comments from people who obviously have not read my entire diary.