To The Editor:
Put 100 psychiatrists in a room together, which is never a good idea, and we’ll disagree about any given topic, whether it be psychiatry, politics, religion, what’s for dinner, any thing. I’m exaggerating, but only a bit.
This makes a group of psychiatrists mobilizing behind the 25th Amendment remarkable. As reported in last week’s New Yorker magazine, the group, called “Duty to Warn,” recently organized kickoff events in 14 cities around the country, in some instances taking to the streets in organized “funeral marches,” complete with drum corps, a la New Orleans. (Can you imagine a bunch of tight-assed shrinks doing this? Boggles the mind.)
The group endorses Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, who sponsored a bill, HR 1987, which proposes an “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity,” which, under the 25th Amendment, would serve as the congressionally appointed body to determine whether a president cannot carry out the powers and duties of his office owing to mental illness or deficiency.
What is even more remarkable is that this growing group is challenging the so-called “Goldwater rule,” an ethical principle of the American Psychiatric Association established decades ago that says psychiatrists cannot express professional opinions about public figures they haven’t personally examined.
The organizer of “Duty to Warn” points out, however, that adhering to this rule, ethical or not, has prevented psychiatrists from warning about the danger our “leader” presents. An article in Vanity Fair recently reported crisis-level discussions among Trump’s aides about how to contain a man who is “unstable,” “unraveling,” and governing by impulse delivered by Tweets (there’s that word again). Just one frightening aspect of Trump’s ignorance and narcissism is his recent attacks on the First Amendment. He appears to have no idea what it says or means.
I’ve been saying it for months: This man is dangerous, presenting symptoms of several serious psychiatric illnesses as described in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Version 5. Now that I’m retired, I think I can say this and not violate the American Psychiatric Association’s ethical guidelines. I’m not entirely sure, but at any rate, the “Duty to Warn” trumps any ethical considerations in this particular situation. (No pun intended.) This is not a political issue, folks. This is a clear and present danger from a man who knows nothing about, nor cares what a leader is.
One final point, related to the above, directed to the military: How quickly could a battalion of combat engineers bring the lives of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico back to what they deserve as U.S. citizens? Can Trump really not realize, or care about, the message he sends by tossing rolls of paper towels into the crowd as he’s preparing to board Air Force One?