Goldwater has been diagnosed as “megalomaniac”, “paranoid”, “grossly psychotic” and in what is now being raised against Trump as someone suffering from “narcissistic personality disorder”. Some doctors have gained incredible insights into a man they have never spoken to, including one who said that “inside, a frightened person who sees himself as weak and threatened by strong male power around him”. That’s all it takes for the magazine to get the front cover of it: “Fact: 1,189 psychiatrists say Goldwater is psychologically unfit to be president!” Goldwasser lost to a landslide, although there is no evidence that he actually suffered from such a mental illness. In response, the American Psychiatric Association adopted the Goldwater Rule to prevent doctors from making such unethical diagnoses of people without evaluating them. It seems that ethics, as well as constitutional principles, are valued more frequently in violations of politics and psychology. I previously wrote about the argument with Dershowitz and, while saying that Lee would harm her profession and school, I expressed concerns about the move to dismiss:
Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz has reportedly complained to Yale University after Lee suggested that he and Trump supporters share a “shared psychosis” with the president. Dershowitz sparked a comment when he insisted that he had a “perfect sex life” in defense of allegations that he had sex with underage girls while working with child molester Jeffrey Epstein. (Dershowitz is being sued by a woman who said she was forced to have sex with him by Epstein. This is one of several lawsuits currently pending against Dershowitz, who has always maintained his innocence.) As shown in dozens of previous columns, I oppose efforts to punish or dismiss academics for concerns about freedom of expression and academic freedom in their institutions. However, I agree with Dershowitz that Lee’s armed psychiatric assessments in this political debate run counter to her school and profession.
This controversy began with a statement from the University of Minnesota Law Professor Richard Painter on Jan. 2. Painter is the former White House chief ethics attorney in the George W. Bush administration, and I have criticized his views on known crimes and offenses of Trump as unsupported and unreasonable. It’s not surprising to find an alliance with Lee in comments like this when Painter found that Dershowitz sounded pretty trumpetical when claiming he had “a perfect, perfect sex life.”
This triggered Lee, who immediately gave her psychiatric analysis:
“Alan Dershowitz’s strange use of ‘perfect’ – not even a synonym – could be dismissed as an ordinary influence in most contexts. However, given the severity and prevalence of “shared psychosis” among nearly all Donald Trump supporters, a different scenario is more likely. There is even evidence: his bravery towards his opponent with a question about his own sex life – in a way that is irrelevant to the actual lawsuit – shows the same grandiosity and impunity at the delusional level. . . Likewise, the level of lack of empathy, remorse, and consideration of consequences is identical (until some accountability comes from outside – at which point he will likely be equally pissed off). “
Dershowitz understandably disagreed with this outrageous and unprofessional analysis. He said that Lee “declared me a psychotic in defense of Trump’s constitutional rights”. Dershowitz aptly points out that Lee’s “diagnosis” was based on the use of one of the most commonly used words in the English language:
“Publicly offering” professional opinions “or diagnoses without a psychiatric evaluation is a violation of psychiatric ethics and the rules of the American Psychiatric Association,” he argued. “DR. Lee has a history of such unethical behavior. She had previously diagnosed President Trump as psychotic. Now it is doubling down, accusing me of having a” shared psychosis “with President Trump and” taking over Trump’s symptoms completely through contagion. ” “… She also believes that my use of the word” perfect “- the same word Donald Trump used when describing his phone call to the Ukrainian President – is evidence of a” common “psychosis. She does not mention that I used the word “perfect” to refute the false allegations against me and to honestly say that since the day I met Jeffrey Epstein, I have never had sex with anyone other than my wife. … I used the word “perfect” to refer to my loyalty at the time when I was falsely accused, just as someone might say she was a “perf.” ect “attendance list. In addition, Dr. Lee to mention that the interview I used that word in was months before President Trump. I think she thinks he got the infection from me. “
This answer, in my opinion, was complete and unassailable. I would have preferred to leave it there than go to school.
Yale Lee is said to have resigned in January 2020. This has led backers like Painter to denounce the university on MSNBC for violating free speech and insist that the problem is the Goldwater Rule, not Lee.
Lee became more and more sensational as he gave CNN, MSNBC, and various newspapers an insatiable appetite. She explained Trump as the worst than Hitler: “Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler. At least Hitler improved the daily life of his followers, had discipline and required more of himself in order to gain the respect of his followers. Even with the same pathology, there are different degrees of competence. “
As one of the main voices calling for the removal under the 25th Amendment, Painter admits that “there was no nuclear war, so our worst fears never arose.” However, he insists that the problem is the Goldwater Rule and the ethical rule against diagnosing people in public with no personal assessment or credible basis. In particular, MSNBC ran Painter’s column but did not recognize its own role in the unethical use of psychiatric reviews. Indeed, Painter and a great number of academics have not shown responsibility or regret in such sensational and unprofessional statements by Lee or others in their field. Additionally, Painter has called for conservative lawyers, including United States Senators, to be banned from expressing their own views on the election and possible fraud.
I have no problem with Dershowitz filing a complaint with the American Psychiatric Association for an alleged unethical violation of their rules. Lee’s public statements, however, were closely intertwined with her political speech and academic views. She might rightly have disagreements about the gold water rule. I agree with the rule, but it’s not about debate or disagreement.
The problem is tight. Lee seemed unethical, in my view, to declare a person with no personal assessment to be mentally ill. However, I have been very critical of many attorneys who have made sweeping and unfounded statements about crimes allegedly committed by Trump.
Former Washington Post prosecutor and columnist Randall D. Eliason insisted that Trump committed bribery in the Ukraine scandal. It didn’t matter that the Supreme Court flatly rejected such sweeping interpretations of bribery, extortion and related political corruption. Former CNN legal analyst and former House impeachment officer Norm Eisen claimed in 2018 that Trump was “not in sight of Russian aggression” and that the criminal case against him for obstruction of justice was “devastating.” Professor Richard Painter made a clear case for treason. Harvard professor Laurence Tribe explained Trump’s dictation of a misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting as witness manipulation. Tribe previously found compelling evidence of obstruction of justice, criminal election violations, Logan Act violations, extortion, and possible treason by Trump or his family.
I believe these legal statements were just as sensational and baseless as Lee’s psychiatric statements. However, I would oppose any step in removing them to hold such views. Lee is in some ways aided by her reckless rhetoric, which was clearly motivated by her deep-seated hostility towards Trump and his politics. While media like MSNBC used her to propose a professional diagnosis of mental illness, she clearly advocated political, not professional, speech. This is a concern about ending the speech outside of the classroom or campus.
In addition, Lee was open to it without individual interaction with Trump. I would be interested in the specific conclusions of the Yale investigation. I’m also curious as to why the Dershowitz letter was necessary for action to be taken when Lee was criticized by many of us for years in the national media. It wasn’t Lee’s outrageous statements about Trump, but her statement about Dershowitz that seemed to get the Yale faculty to act. Head of Department Dr. John Krystal told Lee that she “violated psychiatric ethics remotely by“ diagnosing ”Dershowitz, and that her“ recklessness of your comments makes it appear that they are selfish about your personal political beliefs and other possible personal pursuits. “Still, both Trump and Dershowitz are public figures. The question is why Lee’s four-year analysis of Trump wasn’t an equally pressing concern.
A distinction is made when a doctor offers a diagnosis of a person’s mental fitness without an ethical basis for such a diagnosis. These lawyers based their conclusions on available evidence. They were wrong, but they offered their assessment of the weight of the evidence. Declaring someone mentally ill may not be remotely reasonable, especially given Lee’s hyperbolic and awkward rhetoric.
So this is a close question, and why we need to know more about the results of the Yale investigation. There is no evidence that Lee did anything unprofessional in her classes or with patients. This gives cause for serious concern as to whether she has been punished for her political speech or for violating school or professional rules.