The American Psychiatric Association issues a warning: No psychoanalyzing Donald Trump

I hate it when people use psychology as a weapon. I had an ex-GF who did that and I did not appreciate her diagnoses.

Have I done to others this thing I hate? Yes.

Washington Post: Donald Trump had a very bad week — so bad that some were asking whether something was wrong with him. Like, really wrong.

“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 said.

Then there was this from former Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey Flier:

And a Northwestern University professor recently published a 9,000-word psychological evaluation of Trump — from afar, of course — largely dealing with Trump and narcissism.

He isn’t the only public figure who’s been subjected to some remote analysis.

Witness this report from People magazine in 2008 about Britney Spears (emphasis mine):

During her 14-day hold, her doctor can discharge her to outpatient treatment if she is deemed well enough or apply to keep her longer — a move UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman (who is not treating Spears) would advise.

Or this, from Radar Online, about Lindsay Lohan:

While Lindsay Lohan continues to party until the wee hours of the morning, and her family and friends grow increasingly concerned for her, Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is not treating Lohan, has some candid advice for the people closest to her.

Or this, from the National Enquirer, about Lisa Marie Presley:

Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a leading New York psychologist who has not treated Lisa Marie, said: “This is an absolutely danger­ous and potentially deadly situation.

The reason each of those bolded disclosures were made: They have to be. And that’s because of yet another presidential candidate, half a century ago. Back in 1964, a whole bunch of psychiatrists decided they would like to psychoanalyze Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. The result was what’s known as the “Goldwater Rule.”

Well, that’s not technically what the rule is all about. In fact, it 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.

The short version: It’s okay to talk about psychiatric issues — but not okay to diagnose people you haven’t treated.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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