Dr. Bandy Lee on the American Psychiatric Association’s 2017 gag order on shrinks commenting about Trump’s fitness for office

As for the fitness of this particular ignorant, opinionated, lying, braying jackass to be the president, I think this short video lays out an excellent case, with some bracing details about the recent “tightening” of the old Goldwater Rule [1] that psychiatrists can’t venture a diagnosis of a public figure unless they’ve examined him and he agrees to the disclosure of his psychiatric diagnosis.  Right after Trump took office the American Psychiatric Association made the rule much more restrictive, in effect a gag order.  Take a look.

There is also a transcription of the entire presentation below the video (click the “more” tab).  It’s a quick read, here’s a pertinent section:

The rule was changed to cover not just diagnosis, but any aspect that anyone can observe from the outside, such as speech, affect and behavior. None of that could be commented on as a professional. That was a change that was made in March 2017.

It reinterpreted the rule into something that an ethical rule never has been before.

The timing of this change by the American Psychiatric Association shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration, as well as the APA’s dependance on federal funding and pharmaceutical industry support, require consideration.

Now, news programs regularly give the Goldwater rule as a reason for not covering both mental health experts and non experts. This way, professional opinion is made the same as any opinion, the way facts are made the same as alternative facts.

Many psychiatrists call the new rule a gag order, and many distinguished APA members, including officers, resigned as result, according to an informal poll. A large majority of psychiatrists disagree with the rule and believe it should be changed.

Why is this important with a new silencing of professionals? The public may have been deprived of critical information at a critical time to be able to protect itself, since knowledge is power. Suppressing knowledge is a form of control and an essential ingredient to tyranny.

We can see this from the general silencing of whistleblowers and journalists.

Given that Mr. Trump’s probable mental incapacity and dangerousness were a near consensus among mental health professionals, it might have been important for the public to know about.

This behavior is not random and dangerous behavior is often recurrent.

Above all, the public seemed to need to hear that mental impairment is real and not just a fabrication or an insult for those who already saw the signs.


[1] “… 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.”

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