Democrats turn to psych profs for dirt on Trump
- Several Democratic leaders have reached out to a group of psychology professors known as "Duty to Warn," which maintains that Donald Trump is too "mentally unstable" to serve as President.
- The professors have received harsh criticism from some quarters for violating the "Goldwater Rule," which prevents health professionals from diagnosing a public figure if they have not personally examined them.
Democrat leaders from both the House and Senate have reached out to psychology professors over the past several months seeking input on the state of President Trump’s mental health.
In a continued effort to remove Trump from office, Democrats are now attempting to invoke the 25th Amendment by charging that he is mentally unfit for office.
“It’s one thing from my non-professional, non-clinical standpoint [to] believe that someone does not have the capacity to do the job, it’s another thing to talk to experts and [those] who can deal with mental psychosis on a daily basis, so I wanted to hear from them,” Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, told BuzzFeed News.
Others, such as Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson have supported Speier’s efforts, calling Trump a “sick man,” while California Senate Candidate Tom Steyer’s ad campaign features a call for Trump’s impeachment on the grounds that he is “mentally unstable.”
Additionally, Bandy Lee, a Yale Psychology professor, claims to have been contacted by at least a handful of lawmakers from both the House and Senate for her assessment of Trump, though she wouldn’t reveal any names.
The group with which Speier is consulting, called Duty to Warn, was founded by former Johns Hopkins Assistant Professor John Gartner with the help of Lee, and takes its name from a psychologist’s immunity from legal repercussions when disclosing information about a client who exhibits violent behavior.
“[We] hope to be to the 25th Amendment what the NRA is to the [Second Amendment],” Gartner told BuzzFeed, though some have accused Gartner and his colleagues of violating the “Goldwater Rule,” which states that mental health professionals cannot diagnose a public figure if they have not personally examined them.
In an interview with Jesse Watters, however, Gartner defended his group’s practices, saying that he doesn’t need to evaluate the president face-to-face.
“How do you not need to evaluate someone if you’re going to diagnose their mental health?” Watters asked, though Gartner responded by arguing that “we actually can diagnose people much more reliably by their behavior and by reports of people who know them well.”
But when Watters asked Gartner which of Trump’s friends he is relying on, he admitted that he hasn’t interviewed any, before proceeding to compare Trump to Hitler.
Some experts, though, disagree with Gartner, including Lee who has since distanced herself from the group as well as former Duke University professor Allen Frances.
“We shouldn’t be confusing bad behavior with mental illness,” Frances remarked. “When we do this, it reduces our ability to respond appropriately to bad behavior, and it stigmatizes the mentally ill.”
Similarly, not even all Democrats are on board with the plan, with retired therapist and self-described Bernie Sanders delegate, Jesse Ferguson calling Duty to Warn’s plan a “cheap shot,” and declared that the group’s members are “engaging in their own form of narcissism.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KylePerisic