Speed Reads

a lesson in ethics

No, psychiatrists aren't allowed to assess Trump's mental health based on his tweets

Contrary to recent reports, most American psychiatrists have not been given the professional go-ahead to publicly comment on President Trump's mental wellbeing without taking him as a patient and acquiring his permission for their remarks. Twitter is not an ethically acceptable tool of diagnosis.

At issue is "Goldwater Rule," which says "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." The rule was created by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) after 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater won a libel suit against a magazine that reported "1,189 Psychiatrists say Goldwater is Psychologically Unfit to be President."

Earlier this month, the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) told members "they should not feel bound" by the rule in regards to Trump, leading to reports that shrinks can now diagnose Trump remotely. But the APsaA is a small organization of just 3,700 members; the APA has 37,000 members with generally higher academic qualifications — and it says the Goldwater Rule is definitely still in play.