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US psychiatry group suspends 1973 rule, members can comment on Trump’s mental state

The American Psychoanalytic Association stated that its members should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures.

world Updated: Jul 26, 2017 18:51 IST
Kartikeya Ramanathan
Kartikeya Ramanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Donald Trump,American Psychoanalytic Association,Dr Prudence Gourguechon
US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio on July 25, 2017.(AFP)

The American Psychoanalytic Association, a leading US psychiatry group, has allowed its members to comment on the mental state of politicians, suspending a rule that has been in place since 1973.

The executive committee of the association sent an email to its 3,500 members, stating that they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures. This also includes President Donald Trump, reported STAT news, which focuses on science- and health-related stories.

The former president of the association, Dr Prudence Gourguechon, said the email was prompted by “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behaviour”.

“We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly... That responsibility is especially great today since Trump’s behaviour is so different from anything we’ve seen before,” she said.

The Goldwater rule, written in 1964, keeps experts from publicly talking about the psychiatric condition of public figures. It was written after a survey of more than a thousand psychiatrists claimed that then Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater was “psychologically unfit to be President”.

The American Psychoanalytic Association adopted the rule in 1972, reasoning that a psychiatrist has to actually examine a patient in order to diagnose mental health disorders.

According to STAT there are no real consequences for violating the Goldwater rule. However, it puts the American Psychoanalytic Association at odds with another leading psychiatry group, the American Psychiatric Association, The Verge reported.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 15:38 IST