Monday, October 26, 2020

Origin of the Psychiatrist Goldwater Rule

Mary Trump writes in the Wash. Post:
n 1964, Fact magazine published an unscientific survey asking psychiatrists whether they thought the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, was psychologically fit to serve as president of the United States. The problem wasn’t that professionals felt the need to share their views of what they considered Goldwater’s dangerous ideas; it was the irresponsible and often bizarre analyses that were in some cases based entirely on rank speculation. “Goldwater is basically a paranoid schizophrenic” who “resembles Mao Tse-tung,” one offered. Another said that he “has the same pathological make-up as Hitler, Castro, Stalin and other known schizophrenic leaders.” A third said that “a megalomaniacal, grandiose omnipotence appears to pervade Mr. Goldwater’s personality.”

Embarrassed, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in reaction to this debacle, established the “Goldwater Rule,” which barred its members from diagnosing public figures. It concluded that “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.” That’s fair, as far as it goes. But in March 2017, shortly after my uncle, Donald Trump, was inaugurated, the APA didn’t just reaffirm the rule — it expanded it past the point of coherence.

The reason for these ethics rules is that professional organizations, first and foremost, seek to protect the incomes of their members.

The embarrassing fact is that psychiatrists cannot reliably diagnose anyone, even if examined in person. So public diagnosis of celebrities just exposes the extreme subjectivity of their profession. Their comments about Goldwater did not even make any sense.

Everyone assumes that the psychiatrist organization is anti-Trump anyway. After all, so are the Democrat Party, Deep State, universities, unions, rich elites, Hollywood, TV networks, big tech companies, social media, govt workers, major newspapers, China, etc. And all the pollsters predict that he will lose in the biggest landslide in many years. So what is anyone worried about?

Mary Trump herself is some sort of psychologist with a longstanding grievance against the rest of the Trump family over some inheritance issues.

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