A group of doctors and mental health experts insists that it’s not a crazy idea for House Democrats to get the experts’ take on President Donald Trump’s mental health — even though they have never met Trump, and their profession’s code of ethics expressly states it would be unethical to offer their opinion of the president without examining him personally.
“We don’t believe there is the need for any further evaluation, and we are making ourselves available for the impeachment hearing because we believe that mental health issues will become critical as pressures from the impeachment hearings mount,” Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist, said, according to the Washington Examiner.
“In other words, the more successful the impeachment proceedings become, the more dangerous the psychological factors of the president will become,” Lee said.
Lee said that the group of four psychiatrists, a clinical neuropsychologist, a neurologist, and an internist will be available to legislators for consultations. The group has dubbed itself the “Independent Expert Panel for Presidential Fitness.”
“We think that hearing about mental health aspects in the context of the impeachment hearings is critical, partly because, for the past 2.5 years we have been very deeply concerned about mental instability of the president, and pretty much all that we have said has born out to be true,” Lee said.
Lee said that the public record, from speeches and tweets to the report of former special counsel Robert Mueller gave the experts all the information they needed to arrive at their conclusion.
“The president lacks mental capacity to fulfill the duties of his office,” Lee said.
Lee said that the group can give answers to questions about Trump’s capacity to protecting the United State and what actions legislators should take to ensure America’s safety.
The group will not, however, weigh in directly on impeaching Trump, Lee said.
“Those things are up to politicians to decide. That’s not our domain,” Lee said. “But our medical assessment is that those dangers need to be removed one way or another.”
In June, Lee told Salon in an interview that Trump was a grave danger to the world.
“Trump would have remained psychologically disordered as an individual, and therefore not doing much harm, if he had just remained a private citizen. As a real estate builder and a reality TV personality, Trump’s power to do harm to society would be vastly limited,” she said.
“But because he rose to the level of president of the United States, this is why I and other health professionals have a medical obligation to speak publicly, to sound the alarm about this whole situation. Donald Trump is the center of vast levels of harm being done to a wide segment of society. This is a public health and public safety issue,” she said.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association adopted the “Goldwater Rule” as part of its code of ethics. The rule constrains mental health professionals from commenting on the fitness of public figures they haven’t personally examined, according to Psychiatric News, the newsletter of the American Psychological Association.
According to Psychiatric News, the rule states:
“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” (Emphasis added.)
The rule was adopted after mental health professionals went public with damaging opinions about 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
But, as Time magazine reported in 2017, Trump opponents in the mental health field have questioned whether the rule should still apply.
“I do not involve myself in direct discussions about impeachment or the political process because that is outside of my realm of expertise. My expertise is medical. In that capacity I can state that unless Donald Trump is contained or removed, he is posing a danger to public health and safety. As president, Trump represents a condition of imminent danger to the country and the world. Therefore, my recommendation is that Donald Trump be immediately contained and certain powers are taken away from him,” she said.
At the time, she issued a prediction.
“With Donald Trump there will be unacceptable levels of danger of him either destroying the United States or perhaps even human civilization. Donald Trump is a national emergency,” she said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.