Mental Health Professionals Meet At Yale To Analyze President Trump

Apr 20, 2017

Two dozen mental health professionals met for the first time at Yale Medical School Thursday to analyze President Donald Trump. 

The group called “Duty to Warn” faces criticism from Republicans and psychiatric professionals.

Republicans say it’s unfair to analyze Trump’s mental state because President Barack Obama didn’t face the same scrutiny. Dr. John Gartner who founded Duty to Warn disagrees.

“This is definitely not a partisan effort. You know, I despised George Bush. It never occurred from me for a minute that he was mentally ill and I never heard from my colleagues that he was mentally ill. Yet, 41,000 of my colleagues have signed a petition saying that Donald Trump is mentally ill.”

Gartner is a psychologist who used to teach at Johns Hopkins University. He says Trump’s behavior looks a lot like malignant narcissism, a diagnosis developed to explain Adolf Hitler.

Dr. Charles Dike of Yale School of Medicine says professionals cannot diagnose Trump or any public figures based on the persona they present to the media. The American Psychiatric Association says professionals can’t give opinions of public figures without personally examining them. That’s under an ethical standard called the Goldwater rule. The APA wrote it in the 1970s after psychologists published a diagnosis of Republican candidate Barry Goldwater and he lost the election. The APA reaffirmed the rule last month.

The event organizer, Dr. Bandy Lee, agrees with the Goldwater rule but is troubled by its recent expansion and what she calls the silencing of debate.  

“Basically, one cannot speak of public figures under any circumstance. And to do that under this current climate of grave concern is, in my mind, is actually a political statement.”

Lee, a professor of the Law and Psychiatry Division at Yale School of Medicine, says Trump’s mental state is a concern when it poses a danger to the public. Yale did not sponsor the event. 

This story was updated to reflect that Dr. Bandy Lee agrees with the Goldwater rule, but disagrees with its recent expansion in March. Lee emphasizes that the event was independently organized and did not represent the views of Yale University or Yale School of Medicine.