The largest psychiatric organization in the world is calling for an end to “arm chair” psychiatry in light of allegations that President Trump is mentally unfit to serve.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a statement Tuesday reaffirming its commitment to “The Goldwater Rule,” which states that it is unethical for psychiatrists to diagnose public figures they have not personally examined.
The APA’s statement comes as Mr. Trump’s critics openly question his mental capacity for the office in light of Michael Wolff’s hotly debated tell-all book about the Trump family. Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee, editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” claimed to have recently met with more than a dozen Congress members to discuss Mr. Trump’s mental health.
The APA said the public speculation by psychiatrists “undermines the credibility and integrity of the profession and the physician-patient relationship.”
“A proper psychiatric evaluation requires more than a review of television appearances, tweets, and public comments,” the statement said. “Psychiatrists are medical doctors; evaluating mental illness is no less thorough than diagnosing diabetes or heart disease. The standards in our profession require review of medical and psychiatric history and records and a complete examination of mental status. Often collateral information from family members or individuals who know the person well is included, with permission from the patient.
“Using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively impacts our profession,” it added.
Mr. Trump, who has defended himself as a “very stable genius,” is set to undergo his first medical checkup since taking office on Friday. The APA said it expects Mr. Trump’s physician to follow the standard of care in examining him, and, if needed, to seek consultation from an experienced psychiatrist to proceed with “objectivity and within the physician-patient confidential relationship.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Lee and Dr. Leonard L. Glass penned an article for Politico Magazine on Wednesday defending their position on evaluating the president from afar. They argued that a person’s “dangerousness” can be reliably assessed “by interviewing co-workers and intimates, reviewing the individual’s past statements and behaviors, reviewing police reports and, crucially, assessing context. While an in-person interview can be quite useful, it is not strictly required to assess danger.”
“Any president’s mental health is inextricably tied to our health as a society, and, in this case, Trump’s mental state poses a serious danger that we must be willing to discuss and address,” they wrote.