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President Donald Trump

Mary Trump Demolishes the Goldwater Rule

Trump is not Goldwater, and silence is stigma.

Mary Trump, both a psychologist and Trump’s niece, just wrote a definitive refutation of the Goldwater Rule. The American Psychiatric Association, of which I’ve been a member for 30 years and am a Distinguished Fellow, should admit it made a huge mistake by not loosening this "ethical" censorship half a century after the problem with Goldwater. Three major points from Mary Trump:

  1. Silence of the APA is not “neutrality” but an “in-kind” contribution to the Trump campaign, making it easier for the uninformed public to be fooled.
  2. Silence of the APA reflects stigma against mental illness, which should be hidden and not discussed — a key point I’ve also made in an article critiquing the Goldwater Rule in the Washington Monthly in 2017.
  3. Most centrally, Mary Trump knows her uncle well personally and says that a “direct evaluation” in a clinical interview would provide less information than can be obtained by the large amount of his abnormal behavior available from public sources. This contradicts the central premise of supporters of the Goldwater Rule.

Many APA leaders to whom I’ve spoken assumed that opposition to the Goldwater Rule was based on opposition to Trump. I first opposed it in 2012, here on Psychology Today.

Here’s a simple proposal: After November 3, if we have a President Biden, the APA president should set up a new committee with the task of revising the Goldwater Rule so as to loosen it.

Even better, let’s abolish it.

More from Nassir Ghaemi M.D., M.P.H.
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