Yet most members of one profession have been hiding in plain sight. Psychiatrists and psychologists operate under a norm — the so-called Goldwater Rule — that their professional organizations made up in 1973, forbidding them from diagnosing public figures they haven’t been able to evaluate in person. In the face of minimal trust at home and abroad in President Donald Trump’s stability and his tenuous grasp of reality, a group of eminent professionals are daring to depart from the party line and declaring exception to the rule.
The Hippocratic oath to First Do No Harm — sworn to Apollo the physician — has been turned into a self-serving hypocritical oath, charges Dr. John Gartner, a psychologist and former faculty member at Johns Hopkins Medical School. “The American Psychiatric Association looks out for the welfare of its members, to protect them from lawsuits. They’re not worrying about whether 300 million Americans are vulnerable to the life-and-death actions taken by this abnormal president.” And he and an increasing number of his colleagues are ready to declare that President Trump, whose actions are often described with neutral terms like “unprecedented,” is in fact dangerously ill. “Does Trump need to lie to my face for me to know he lies all the time?” asks Gartner. Now in private practice in New York City, he answers his own rhetorical question. “He does lie to my face — every night. I watch TV!”