Former Vice President Joe Biden mimics shooting a gun as he speaks at the Chuck Hagel Forum in Global Leadership, on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Some of us might remember Yale psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee who made headlines in December 2017. She traveled to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on Donald Trump’s “fitness” to be President. Speaking to CNN afterward, she said, “Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation. They know the concern is universal among Democrats, but it really depends on Republicans, they said. Some knew of Republicans that were concerned, maybe equally concerned, but whether they would act on those concerns was their worry.” There was one Republican senator among the group whom she would not name. Corker, maybe Flake?
According to CNN, “Lee made it clear that she is not in a position to diagnose the President, or any public figure, from afar. But she said that it is incumbent on medical professionals to intervene in instances where there is a danger to an individual or the public. She argues that signs the President has exhibited have risen to that level of danger.”
Her concern began immediately after Trump’s victory. Lee believed that President Trump posed a danger to America and felt it was her duty to warn us.
For decades, psychiatrists have observed “The Goldwater Rule.” Following a hit job from a group of psychiatrists who had never met him, Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate, sued them and won. Since then, it’s been the policy of the American Psychiatric Association not to diagnose a patient unless the individual has been evaluated in person. But because Trump presented such a threat, Lee just could not remain silent.
Lee observes a different rule called the “Duty to Warn,” which is currently a law in 38 states. If a doctor believes that a mental health patient may cause physical harm to another, they “may break confidentiality and alert the likely victim or call the police.” The law makes sense in general, but it hardly applies to Trump.
“The Goldwater Rule is not absolute. We have a duty to warn about a leader who is dangerous to the health and security of our patients,” she told New York Magazine’s Gail Sheehy.
Lee formed a “coalition” of like-minded mental-health professionals who were “sufficiently alarmed that they feel the need to speak up about the mental-health status of the president.”
To make a long story short, Lee had spent time in East Africa and in maximum security prisons studying the culture of violence and views life through that lens.
Sheehy asked her, “Do Trump’s middle-class supporters see him as a strong man who promises to revive the status they have lost? Is their sense of belonging tied to Trump?”
Lee replied, “He is giving his fans a false sense of empowerment: ‘Make America great again, reject outsiders who will take your jobs.’ But instead of elevating their status with real solutions, he is exploiting their psychology.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Lee and her group of experts, which she calls the “Independent Expert Panel for Presidential Fitness,” wanted to appear before the impeachment inquiry panel. She told the Examiner’s Kimberly Leonard, “We think that hearing about mental health aspects in the context of the impeachment hearings is critical, partly because, for the past 2.5 years we have been very deeply concerned about mental instability of the president, and pretty much all that we have said has born out to be true.”
Leonard asked her about the fact that neither she nor her fellow “experts” have ever met Trump, and Lee assured her “there is enough information from the president’s public appearances, tweets, interviews, and also from special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, to make the determination that the president lacks the mental capacity to fulfill the duties of his office…There is very little that a personal examination will add.”
Naturally, in light of former Vice President Joe Biden’s very obvious cognitive decline, Dr. Lee was called upon to weigh in. However, she demurred.
The Washington Monthly tells us Lee’s explanation for why she refuses to diagnose Biden is in keeping with professional standards. Lee states:
I do not diagnose without examination and do not speak about public figures in general, unless there is evidence of such profound danger to public health and well-being because of serious signs of mental instability in a public servant, that it would be a public disservice not to share the knowledge and training that I have. Biden has not risen to this threshold…
I never spoke up about a president or a presidential candidate either before or after Donald Trump, and neither have thousands of mental health professionals who have come forth with similar concerns in ways that are unprecedented in U.S. history, for any president of any party. I only speak up when there is a medical need of such great magnitude as to risk the survival of the human species.
This is definitively Donald Trump, not Biden. Nor is it Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or any other false equivalences people wish to create for political purposes.
Yeah. We get it.