Is President Donald Trump crazy?
Given his unorthodox and erratic campaign for the presidency and his first few months in office, people are asking.
But will a psychiatrist tell you?
Is a psychiatrist allowed to tell you?
Why? It all goes back to the campaign of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater for president of the United States.
Goldwater was the Republican candidate running against President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson’s campaign team painted Goldwater as a dangerous extremist unfit for the presidency.
A magazine, Fact, then in print asked American psychiatrists about Goldwater’s fitness and mental health.
The results infuriated Goldwater and raised questions regarding the ethics of psychiatrists diagnosing someone who was never their patient nor with whom they had any personal contact.
Following the election – Goldwater lost – the Arizona senator sued Fact for libel. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Fact lost, and later ceased publication.
The American Psychiatric Association was bloodied and bruised in the process of the Fact libel suit, which involved a sizable number of its membership.
The American Psychiatric Association, to ensure there would never be a Goldwater-diagnose-from-a-distance problem put in place the Goldwater Rule.
“I don’t think that, without an examination of an individual, one can make an assessment of the person’s psychological profile,” said Maria A. Oquendo, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who is also president of the American Psychiatric Association.
Just a reminder, the Goldwater rule applies to psychiatrists, who are medical doctors. Other mental health professionals operate under other guidelines.
Although the following response of the president of the American Psychological Association is helpful in understanding the stance of that organization.
Susan H. McDaniel President American Psychological Association Washington clarifies the position of the organization.
The American Psychological Association does not have a Goldwater Rule per se, but our Code of Ethics clearly warns psychologists against diagnosing any person, including public figures, whom they have not personally examined. Specifically, it states: “When psychologists provide public advice or comment via print, Internet or other electronic transmission, they take precautions to ensure that statements (1) are based on their professional knowledge, training or experience in accord with appropriate psychological literature and practice; (2) are otherwise consistent with this Ethics Code; and (3) do not indicate that a professional relationship has been established with the recipient.”
Sigmund Freud himself would never have imagined a curious citizenry consumed with psychiatric insights into an erratic president.
So is the president of the United States insane?
Unfit for office?
Ripe for removal under the 25th Amendment to our Constitution?
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
With psychiatrists and other mental health professionals ethically bound not to make pronouncements on the president, with a Republican majority in the Cabinet and the Congress, at least from a mental health point of view Donald Trump will be tweeting from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue through 2020.
P.S. Despite the opinion of the psychiatrists of the day, guess who was a big backer of Senator Barry Goldwater?
Despite her current status as a Democratic icon, former first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had some significant exposure to conservative politics in her youth. In her autobiography Living History, Clinton described her father as a “rock-ribbed, up-by-your-bootstraps, conservative Republican and proud of it” and noted that she had been a Young Republican and a supporter of Arizona senator Barry Goldwater.