Psychiatric organization warns members: don’t analyze Trump
Don’t call presidential candidates mentally ill, the American Psychiatric Association told its members this week.
Following a bad week for Donald Trump, in which he insulted a Gold Star family and declined to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan before doing it anyway on Friday, many have started to question whether Trump has a personality disorder.
“We’re asking ourselves — I didn’t say this, but this is what everybody is saying: Is Donald Trump a sociopath?” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough asked earlier this week.
And a California Democrat Wednesday launched a change.org petition calling for Trump to undergo a mental health evaluation, suggesting he may have a narcissistic personality disorder. More than 25,000 have signed it as of Sunday.
While the APA can’t tell politicians and the media how to act, it is encouraging its members not to offer opinions on someone they haven’t personally evaluated.
Called the Goldwater Rule, psychiatrists may share with the public their expertise on psychiatric issues in general, but it’s considered unethical to offer an opinion unless they’ve conducted an examination and has been given permission to talk about it.
“Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical,” Maria Oquendo told members this week.
“Every four years, the United States goes through a protracted elections process for the highest office in the land. This year, the election seems like anything but a normal contest, that has at times devolved into outright vitriol,” she wrote.
“The unique atmosphere of this year’s election cycle may lead some to want to psychoanalyze the candidates, but to do so would not only be unethical, it would be irresponsible.”