The Yale psychiatry professor who said President Trump should be “contained” for an emergency evaluation of his mental state isn’t backing down in the face of criticism.
Bandy Lee met again with members of Congress last week, this time all Democrats, her second such confab this month. According to the Yale Daily News, Lee said once news of this latest meeting broke, she received death threats “at a level that makes her fear ‘mob violence.’”
Lee said the offices of Democratic representatives Rose DeLauro (New York) and Jamie Raskin (Maryland) also were “flooded” with threats.
The professor has argued she isn’t breaking the “Goldwater Rule” — the American Psychiatric Association’s decree that it’s “unethical for a psychiatrist to make a public statement about someone’s mental state without the individual’s consent or an in-person consultation” — because she is not “formally” making a diagnosis.
Lee suggested the APA might have expanded the Goldwater Rule due to “to protect mental health professionals from the ire of Trump supporters.”
“The question then arises, did the American Psychiatric Association expand the Goldwater rule to turn it into an unprecedented gag rule as it has, two months into this administration, in order to protect the safety of professionals?” [Lee] said. “To this I would answer, the longer we wait, the more dangerous it will become.”
In Lee’s view, mental health professionals have been reluctant to speak up so as not to provoke the president or his supporters. Additionally, Lee questioned whether Republican lawmakers are unable to speak up because they fear their own constituents, saying one Republican lawmaker canceled a scheduled meeting shortly before her arrival in the wake of extensive media coverage. …
On Friday, White House physicians said Trump was in “excellent health” after administering a physical examination, the president’s first since he took office.
“Using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively impacts our profession,” the APA [reiterated].
But Lee has consistently argued that she has a duty to warn, which is greater than her obligation for political neutrality as a psychiatrist. She told the News she is not normally political but that by speaking out, she has the potential to prevent violence and the “potential extinction of our species.”
The Yale Executive Committee of the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine issued a statement reaffirming its commitment “to refrain from issuing statements about the mental and emotional state of public officials.” It added that Lee’s remarks are not representative “of the department, School of Medicine or the University.”
The YDN quotes former chairman of the Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Allen Frances:
[…] Lee’s argument that her “duty to warn” preempts all other ethical responsibilities is not a legitimate reason for violating the Goldwater Rule, since the dangers posed by Trump are apparent to “everyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to feel.” But Frances said the “amateur” psychiatric diagnoses made in Lee’s book [“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”], which Frances labeled “psychobabble,” are severely stigmatizing to mentally ill people, confusing Trump’s bad behavior with their psychiatric suffering.
Although Professor Lee has stated those in her field have not only the authority but obligation to detain someone against their will in an emergency (psychiatric) situation, she would not do so in the president’s case … because it would “really look like a coup.”
“[W]e are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection,” she said.