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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The debate on the "Goldwater Rule" resurfaced last week at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting: In the age of Trump, should psychiatrists be allowed to give their professional diagnosis of a public figure?

Background

The Goldwater Rule is an ethics guideline for members of the APA.

  • It was established in 1964 after Fact magazine published a survey from thousands of psychiatrists saying Barry Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be president — Goldwater later sued the magazine.
  • APA members are banned from giving professional opinions to the public about a public figure without consent and a direct examination.
The case for the rule:

In a piece soon to be published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, former APA President Paul Applebaum raises what he notes as even more substantial concerns, "including the risk of harm to living persons and discouraging persons in need of treatment from seeking psychiatric attention."

And in March, the APA reaffirmed their support of the rule.

  • Diagnosis without consent violates principles of psychiatric evaluations.
  • Professional opinion without a direct examination compromises both the integrity of the psychiatrist and the profession.
  • They have the potential to stigmatize those with mental illness.
The case against it:

Nassir Ghaemi, Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts, was part of the APA symposium, and told Axios about his views:

  • Psychiatrists already diagnose patients without consent and use behavior and history from third parties as the basis — like patients taken to emergency rooms and patients who can't be trusted to understand their own symptoms, he said.
  • "That we shouldn't talk about psychiatric issues actually discriminates against psychiatric issues."
  • He views diagnosis as often beneficial and notes that some illnesses are associated with positive character traits for a leader, like creativity and realism.
  • Presidents subject themselves to a medical evaluation with the exception of metal health, which he believes further discriminates against psychiatric issues.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”