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Psychologists march for Trump's impeachment

by Shelby Toth - Copy Editor
Tue, Oct 24th 2017 10:00 pm

Medical ethics have been called into question in the latest march against President Trump. According to New York Post, roughly 125 psychologists and other mental health professionals took to lower Broadway in New York City on Saturday, Oct. 14 to demand Trump be removed from office. Their reasoning? Mental instability.

“We can sense the power of Trump’s underlying fear that he is worthless and weak by how intensely he resists and retaliated against any criticism,” Harry Segal, a Cornell University psychologist, said. “No matter how minor, he can’t let anything go.”

Clinical psychologist Michelle Golland stated that the country is “suffering from his narcissistic personality” and that he holds “no empathy,” something most of us can probably agree with. 

“He has no empathy. You can feel it, the way he spoke about the San Juan mayor,” Golland said. “She has PTSD and our president mistreats her. She is re-victimized. That is a narcissist.”

Despite the accuracy of these claims, many have raised valid questions on whether or not the medical professionals march was ethical.

The main argument draws from a code written by the American Psychiatric Association called the Goldwater Rule, according to Washington Examiner. The rule states that psychiatrists are to “refrain from offering diagnoses of persons based on nothing more than casual observation.” 

This regulation was created in the 1960’s, after presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was criticized by psychologists for being a “dangerous lunatic” and “emotionally too unstable” for office, among other things of the same nature. A survey done by psychologists was published in Fact magazine, listing these qualities and claiming he was mentally unfit to be in office. Goldwater lost the election, and filed and won a defamation lawsuit against the magazine, which brought upon the Goldwater rule.

While the charges against Trump’s mental health are more than likely valid, not one of the psychologists marching have met with him individually to diagnose these issues. Thus, they go directly against this rule. This isn’t the first time psychologists have warned of Trump’s mental instability either.

In February 2017, 33 mental health professionals signed a letter and sent it to The New York Times, stating that Trump had “an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions.”

Psychologists know that they are technically going against the Goldwater rule, but are intentionally doing so. Many as it turns out, do not agree with the rule in the first place. Yale psychiatrist Brandy Lee, phD, has called the rule “antiquated,” according to Financial Tribune, and has criticized the Goldwater Rule for not allowing psychiatrists to warn of Trump’s “dangerousness.”

Using this logic, I do agree that psychiatrists have a duty to warn Americans about who exactly is holding our executive position. 

Even though psychologists can’t offer an exact, in-depth diagnosis based off a one-on-one session, they are trained in their field for years, and are therefore knowledgeable on the subject at hand. If the person in the oval office runs a risk of bringing us to nuclear war due to mental instability, then we have a right to both know and do something about it.

However, I do worry that the precedent set up by this could have damaging effects. Mental health problems are already stigmatized, glorified and everything in-between, except respected. 

Ejecting a man from office on the sole basis of mental health illnesses will only add to the flames thrown at people with these problems. It has potential to be a slippery slope that could lead to people with depression, mood disorders or anxiety disorders being fired or denied jobs.

Nonetheless, the case with Trump’s mental health is relevant. We should worry about a narcissistic president who will bomb a country because a leader there joked he wore a toupee. I agree that in this case, the Goldwater Rule should not apply. In saying that, I also believe it’s only unfitting for this case alone. When the whole country risks suffering from the president’s rage, mental health professionals should be speaking out. 


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