Psych profs violate ethics to accuse Trump of 'mental illness'

A group of psychology faculty and mental health professionals convened at Yale University Thursday to discuss the threat President Trump’s alleged mental illness poses to America.

The group, dubbed “Duty to Warn” in reference to a psychologist’s immunity from legal repercussions when disclosing information about a client who exhibits violent behavior, claims that it has an “ethical responsibility” to inform the American public about Trump’s “dangerous mental illness.”

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“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional, and [has] grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was President,” remarked John Gartner, a former Johns Hopkins University professor who helped launched the group, according to The Independent. “If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional.”

Thursday’s event was organized by Professor Bandy Lee, an instructor in Yale’s Department of Psychiatry, who told The Connecticut Post that “prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room,” adding that she thinks the public should “widely talk about this now.”

The Independent reports that one professor who spoke at the conference, James Gilligan of New York University, suggested that his history of working “with murderers and rapists” allows him to “recognize dangerousness from a mile away,” though he asserted that “you don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years study it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.”

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Notably, the conference appears to stand in clear violation of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) “Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits those in the field from “offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated.”

An August 2016 posting on the APA’s website even explicitly warns psychologists to resist psychoanalyzing “the candidates,” saying it would “unethical” and “irresponsible” to abuse their credibility for political purposes.

“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,” the APA’s August assessment contends. “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.”

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Gartner, though, responded to such criticisms at Thursday’s conference, arguing that “this notion that you need to personally interview someone to form a diagnosis actually doesn’t make a whole lotta sense” because “for one thing, research shows that the psychiatric interview is the least statistical[ly] reliable way to make a diagnosis.”

Gartner himself first gained notoriety for a petition he created shortly after Trump’s election in which he claims that Trump’s alleged psychological ailments violate “article 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that the President will be replaced if he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’”

“We, the undersigned mental health professionals, believe in our professional judgement that Donald Trump manifest a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States,” declares the petition, which garnered well over 40,000 signatures.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski