News & Politics

'Goldwater Rule' Changes Misreported, Misleading. More Fake News?

So, STAT is reporting:

A leading psychiatry group has told its members they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures — even the president.

The statement, an email this month from the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association to its 3,500 members, represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior. It will likely make many of its members feel more comfortable speaking openly about President Trump’s mental health.

Some reputable sources — and Maggie Habermann of the New York Times — are passing it along:

The problem is, this is a statement by the American Psychoanalytic Association, a small group of psychiatrists practicing psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is the specific treatment method originated by Sigmund Freud and is relatively uncommon today — and the American Psychoanalytic Association has only about 3500 members total.

The ethical rule called the Goldwater Rule was issued by the American Psychiatric Association, which was quick to tweet:

The Atlantic has an interesting piece on this. It explains the difference between the Psychiatric Association and the Psychoanalytic Association, and includes this:

Last week, in an essay in Psychiatric Times, Glass called the prohibition on such communication “an unacceptable infringement on my right and duty” to discuss issues “where the perspective of psychiatrists could be very relevant and enlightening.” He ended the essay by announcing his resignation from the American Psychiatric Association, which adopted the rule in 1973. He had been a member for 41 years.

Now, far be it from me to say he shouldn’t do what his conscience requires. But this announcement and the way it has been played by the reputable media and the New York Times appears to me as if someone, somewhere, was trying to mislead people that the larger, more inclusive organization — which is also the one that has a Goldwater Rule — had changed it when it had not.