Psychiatrist Bandy Lee is suing Yale University alleging administrators violated her free speech rights and “unlawfully terminated” her.
At issue is Lee’s tweet from January 2020 in which she said supporters of then-President Donald Trump suffered from a “spread of ‘shared psychosis,'” the Yale Daily News reports.
Bandy has tweeted on the issue in general many times over the last couple years as well.
According the suit, alleged evidence for this “contagion” was Dershowitz’s use of the term “perfect” in an interview to describe his sex life; Trump had previously used the word to describe his impeached-for phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zalensky.
Interestingly, the president’s two lawyers are exactly the ones I wrote about as being among the most exemplary of “shared psychosis” (attraction of similar pathology, or spread of symptoms via emotional bonds):https://t.co/pWBmT8IhP9https://t.co/JItEA52N1v
— Bandy X Lee, MD, MDiv (@BandyXLee1) January 10, 2021
“When Dr. Lee stated ‘symptoms by contagion,’ she was not diagnosing Mr. Dershowitz, but rather commenting on a widespread phenomenon of ‘shared psychosis,’ also known as ‘folie à plusieurs,’ which refers to the contagion of symptoms that can happen in a situation where a highly symptomatic individual is placed in an influential position,” the lawsuit states.
Dershowitz had requested Yale discipline Lee for the characterization, claiming it was “a serious violation of the ethics rules of the American Psychiatric Association.”
Following Dershowitz’s complaint, Yale Psychiatry Department Chair John Krystal warned Lee the department “would be compelled to ‘terminate [her] teaching role’” if she continued making “similar public statements,” the lawsuit alleges.
In May 2020, “Lee was notified that she was terminated. She appealed the decision multiple times in August and September, to no avail,” the Daily News reports.
I come from three generations of professors, both sides. I was never without an academic affiliation since age 5. It is quite something to be dismissed by a university for being right.
— Bandy X Lee, MD, MDiv (@BandyXLee1) March 24, 2021
Krystal noted Lee’s dismissal had nothing to do with her politics, but her “repeated violations of the APA’s Goldwater Rule” and “significant doubts about [her] understanding of crucial ethical and legal principles in psychiatry,” according to a copy of his memo to Lee cited in the lawsuit.
The Goldwater Rule says “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.”
But Lee considers the Goldwater Rule a “gag order,” the Daily News reports:
Her complaint states that she believes the rule goes against her role as a psychiatrist “in light of her belief that Donald Trump posed a dangerous threat to this country and the world.” Lee has not been a member of the American Psychiatric Association since 2007.
Lee also claims in her complaint that she was not diagnosing Dershowitz, “but rather commenting on a widespread phenomenon of “shared psychosis.’”
Robin Kallor LLP, the law firm representing Lee, says the professor’s remarks are “clearly protected by the First Amendment and Yale’s guarantees of academic freedom.”
Lee is seeking reinstatement of her Yale position, “compensatory economic and non-economic damages,” attorneys’ fees and associated costs.
Over three years ago, Lee had wanted Trump “contained” for an “emergency” mental evaluation. She asserted then that she wasn’t breaking the Goldwater Rule, just “assessing dangerousness, not making a diagnosis.”
IMAGE: Twitter screencap