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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Should Therapists Analyze Presidential Candidates?

by Robert Klitzman
The New York Times
Originally published March 6, 2016

Many psychologists have been quick to offer diagnoses, calling him and other presidential candidates "narcissists," and even providing thoughts about possible treatments.

I wondered what, if anything, to say. I've watched Mr. Trump on TV like everyone else, but never met him. So, I hesitated -- for ethical reasons. The American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A.) prohibits its members from giving professional opinions about public figures we have not interviewed.

This ban stems from a bad incident in my field. In 1964, Fact magazine published an article, announced on its cover as "1,189 Psychiatrists say Goldwater is Psychologically Unfit to be President". The magazine surveyed these professionals, and 49 percent of respondents said Barry M. Goldwater was unfit for the job, describing him as "unbalanced," "immature," "paranoid," "psychotic" and "schizophrenic," and questioning his "manliness." Leading psychiatrists were among those quoted. A famous Johns Hopkins professor said Mr. Goldwater's utterances should "disqualify him from the presidency."