Psychiatrists tried to warn us about Donald Trump. They were shut down.
Watch Part 3 of Covidgate. We learn of a coordinated effort to suppress warnings about Donald Trump’s mental health.
Lyndon B. Johnson was re-elected in a landslide in 1964 partially because American voters were increasingly concerned Johnson’s Republican challenger, Barry Goldwater, would lead the U.S. into nuclear war with Russia.
Over half of psychiatrists polled by Fact magazine that year responded that the Arizona Senator was mentally unfit to be president. Goldwater sued the magazine and won his case.
Despite clear evidence the poll itself was poorly structured and the results misrepresented, in 1973, chastened mental health practitioners adopted a new rule into their code of ethics named after Goldwater.
“[I]t is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization,” Rule 7a reads.
Duty To Warn
The rule, and psychiatry in general, has mostly stayed clear of presidential politics until Donald Trump was elected president, which is when a group of mental health professional gathered at Yale university for the ‘Duty to Warn’ conference.
The conference attendees concluded mental health professionals did have a responsibility to warn the public if they were concerned about a public person’s state of mind. And they were very worried about Donald Trump’s, whom many believed displayed the clear characteristics of someone with Anti Social Personality Disorder.
In other words, Trump is a sociopath.
The conference was organized by Dr. Bandy X. Lee who went on to curate a New York Times bestseller called “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”.
The book became a runaway success and Dr. Lee began doing the TV rounds warning the public of the real dangers caused by a Donald Trump presidency. That’s when a scathing op-ed in the New York Times scolded Dr. Lee’s efforts. An an op-ed, she later discovered, which was backed by the America Psychiatric Association.
At the heart of the APA’s criticism was the Goldwater Rule.
Almost instantly, Dr. Lee noticed the mood shift. She claims she was booked and then cancelled by TV producers seventy times.
I can attest to one of those times. I was one of them.
In 2018, while doing a short tour of duty in Canada to launch a national Sunday morning show, one of the producers pitched Dr. Lee as a guest. I opted for another segment for a myriad of sound editorial reasons, but the New York Times editorial did factor into my thinking, such is the power of a vaunted institution like the Times.
In the ensuing weeks and months, Dr. Lee noticed something else. She claims her quotes were systematically deleted out of previously published New York Times articles.
The Goldwater Rule seems at best misguided. After all, In 1964, Americans heeded the warnings about Goldwater’s mental state and delivered Johnson one of the most decisive election victories since 1820.
But at its worst, the Goldwater Rule provides cover for literal madmen to assume the highest offices of power. Any reasonable person would agree that mental health practitioners should warn the country if there is clear evidence of danger.
Things Will Get Worse
The 1973 Goldwater Rule is relic, which decades after its adoption, looms over our current existential crisis. The APA ought to revisit it and Dr. Lee deserves the gratitude of a community and the indebtedness of her profession. We should also heed her warning. She published her book in 2017, and three years later she believes if Donald Trump stays in office, things will get far worse. Dr. Lee’s new book “Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul” will be out soon.
These days, we could do with Goldwater’s spirit from a later chapter of his political career, when he told Nixon he had to resign, and Nixon did. We don’t have Republican Senators like that anymore.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be forced to confront many societal structures and long-held beliefs which have outlived their usefulness or their times. The Goldwater Rule serves as a timely reminder not to cling on to a past that no longer makes sense.