A psychiatry group told its members they can comment on the mental health of President Trump—going against the longstanding so-called Goldwater Rule, a self-imposed code that prevents the psychiatry community from commenting on the mental health of public figures.
In an email, the American Psychoanalytic Association told its 3,500 members they don’t have to abide by the Goldwater Rule, which states that mental health professionals should not discuss the mental state of someone they have not personally evaluated, Stat News reported on Tuesday. But the American Psychiatric Association is standing firm against any change in the policy.
“We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly,” Prudence Gourguechon, past president of the association, told Stat News.
The debate over whether health professionals can comment on Trump’s mental faculties has raged since the president was elected, with several mental health experts arguing that the Goldwater Rule needs more flexibility regards to Trump. An online petition that calls Trump “mentally ill,” started by psychiatrist John Gartner, has received more than 55,000 signatures since April.
Despite the note from the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Psychiatric Association—which has more than 37,000 members — said on Tuesday that it continues to stand by the Goldwater Rule.
For the record, the @APAPsychiatric stands by the Goldwater Rule. Nothing has changed. https://t.co/odt6lbtoT8
— American Psychiatric (@APAPsychiatric) July 25, 2017
The Goldwater Rule stems from a controversy in 1964, when Fact magazine reported that more than 1,000 mental health professionals said they believed that then-Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater was not mentally fit for office. Goldwater successfully sued Fact for libel after he lost the election, leading to the rule’s addition to the American Psychiatric Association’s ethics guidelines.
The American Psychoanalytic Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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