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Friedman, R.C. Downey, J.I. (2018). Editorial: Psychiatric Ethics and the Goldwater Rule. Psychodyn. Psych., 46(3):323-333.

(2018). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 46(3):323-333

Editorial: Psychiatric Ethics and the Goldwater Rule

Richard C. Friedman, M.D. and Jennifer I. Downey, M.D.

A recently published book edited by Bandy Lee of Yale University has provoked considerable controversy within organized psychiatry in the United States (Lee, 2017). In The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 27 psychiatrists and mental health professionals discuss Trump’s psychology. The articles in Dangerous Case explore the potential dangerousness of President Donald Trump in light of his behavior. They also focus on the duties of psychiatrists as citizens and their responsibilities to their profession especially when these duties and responsibilities appear to be in conflict. The reasons for the conflict are demonstrated by the prescriptions and restrictions of the Goldwater rule on the conduct of psychiatrists.

Ethics and the Goldwater Rule

Before going on, let us say that the so-called “Goldwater rule” does not really exist as such. The wording forbidding certain behavior by psychiatrists is found in an APA Annotation to the AMA Ethics Code first made in 1973 as follows:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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