APA logoOne of the initial debates about speaking up about Donald Trump’s mental health was about whether it was ethical for professionals to do so. Did psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and social workers have the right to discuss a person’s emotional and psychological functioning in public?

As I have written previously, I believe we have not only a right, but a duty to warn about Donald Trump’s psychological problems because they have such a deleterious impact on the health of our democracy. This is one of the reasons I agreed to write a chapter in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Professionals Assess a President.”  

As my co-author Leonard L. Glass, MD, has stated: “We maintained that the psychiatric community has a broader social responsibility to sound an alarm when it recognizes danger, acting as what psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton called “witnessing professionals.” We view such speech as an ethical imperative, not a transgression.”

I also have written that I “diagnose from afar” every day in my practice to help the victims of narcissists and sociopaths understand these harmful and toxic behaviors. 

Some professionals feel constrained by the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater Rule,” which attempts to constrain mental health professionals from diagnosing public figures they have not personally examined.

A group of my esteemed co-authors has taken it upon themselves to rewrite the so-called Goldwater Rule and three articles about this rewrite were all published online yesterday.

  • Leonard Glass, MD, MPH, has written an incisive op-ed about our position for STAT, the Boston Globe’s Science and Medical news magazine.  
  • It runs in conjunction with STAT reporter Sharon Begley’s article on our white paper proposal to the APA. 
  • Bandy Lee, MD, MDiv, and Thomas Singer, MD, have written a concurrent editorial for Psychology Today, containing the full text of the paper..

Robert Jay Lifton, MD, the esteemed psychiatrist who conducted ground-breaking research on Nazi and Soviet physical collaborators, and Judith Herman, MD, an expert in trauma at Harvard University Medical School, presented the proposed rewrite of the Goldwater Rule to the leadership of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) yesterday. 

In addition Dr. Herman has a new column in Psychology Today, which began last week.  Her first article was on the trauma wrought by the family separation policy of the Trump administration.


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