Don’t Diagnose President Trump – Respond to Him by Alan M. Dershowitz
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy, was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
Their misdiagnosis should surprise no one, since none of the psychiatrists had ever examined, or even met, Goldwater. They just didn’t like his politics. Indeed, some feared that he would destroy the world if he had access to the nuclear button. The most powerful TV ad against Goldwater showed a beautiful child playing with a flower. Then the screen went blank, presumably from a nuclear explosion, and the child, along with the world, was blown up. It was an effective ad. It influenced me far more than the psychobabble in the Fact article.
Following the Goldwater-psychiatrist debacle, the American Psychiatric Association declared it to be unethical for a psychiatrist to offer any kind of a diagnosis on a public figure without having examined that person.
Now, more than half a century later, numerous psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are violating that sound ethical principle by diagnosing Donald Trump, whom they have never examined. They are offering diagnoses, ranging from Alzheimer’s, to narcissistic personality disorder, to paranoia and more. A Yale psychiatry professor has suggested the possibility that Trump might be involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Others have proposed that he be required to undergo psychiatric or psychological testing. While still others have suggesting invoking the 25th Amendment and declaring the president incompetent.
|Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony. Psychiatrists have no right to pathologize him for his politics, says Alan Dershowitz. Photo: Wikipedia.|
For more than 25 years, I taught courses on law and psychiatry and related subjects at Harvard Law School. I co-edited a basic text in the field. And I have written numerous articles regarding the ability and inability of psychiatrists to predict future conduct. On the basis of my research and writing, I find it unprofessional, unethical and absurd for any mental health professional to offer a diagnosis or psychiatric prediction regarding President Donald Trump. We are all entitled to our opinions regarding his political and personal qualification to be president. I voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election, because I felt she was more qualified than Donald Trump to be president. That is my right as an American voter. But psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have no more of a right to pathologize a president or a candidate because they disagree with his or her political views than do prosecutors or politicians have a right to criminalize political opponents.
I have been writing against the criminalization of political differences for decades, because it is dangerous to democracy. It is even more dangerous to pathologize or psychiatrize one’s political opponents based on opposition to their politics. Using mental health professionals to pathologize political opponents was a common tactic used by the Soviet Union, China and apartheid South Africa against political dissidents. The American Psychological Association took a strong stand against the use of this weapon by tyrants. I was deeply involved in that condemnation, because I understood how dangerous it is to diagnose political opponents instead of responding to the merits or demerits of their political views.
It is even more dangerous when a democracy, such as the United States, begins to go down the road of pathologizing political differences. So let us debate the merits and demerits of President Trump’s policies, personality and other factors that are relevant to his presidency. But let us leave diagnoses to doctors who have examined their patients.
Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of Trumped Up, How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy.
This article was first published by FoxNews.
The Zionist youth movement takes on a new educational role in the face of local Jews’ hostility to the idea of emigration to Israel
Kids at a Dortmund Jewish Community Youth Center Hanukkah event. (Marc Neugroschel/Times of Israel)
DORTMUND, Germany — Almost eight decades after being outlawed by the Nazis, Germany’s branch of the international Bnei Akiva movement is back — with some slight changes.
Founded as a religious Zionist movement to promote Jewish immigration to Israel, this particular branch of the organization has shifted its sights to instead suit the needs of the growing local community and the peculiarities of German Jewish life.
Just a month in the lives of Christians under Islam.
Reprinted from the Gatestone Institute.
Luc Ravel, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Strasbourg “went against the grain of Church leaders in France who have largely remained politically correct,” says a report, because he criticized “the demographic shift in France, saying Muslims are having far more children than native French and slammed the widespread ‘promotion’ of abortion.” He said, “Muslim believers know very well that their birthrate is such that today, they call it … the Great Replacement, they tell you in a very calm, very positive way that, ‘one day all this, it will be ours.’”
The question of granting asylum and vetting anti-Semitic attitudes.
There was no genius behind the prediction that the influx of Muslim migrants into Europe would cause a sharp rise in anti-Semitism, and anti-Israel propaganda. The Muslim immigrant anti-Semites from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, didn’t need President Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an excuse to express their hate for Jews and Israel. They have been honed on Jew-hatred in their own mosques, through President Erdogan’s demagoguery, and through the Arab media.
Local authorities decided to close down the Saint Catherine Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on January 5 and January 6, when Christmas church services are held according to the Coptic Orthodox calendar.[i] The general directorate of tourist police further ordered all tourist companies not to lead tours to the historic monastery.
In October, 125 psychologists and assorted mental health professionals marched to New York’s City Hall while wearing red tags warning, “DANGER.” Leading the march was Peter Fraenkel, author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage, mournfully beating a drum in a solemn march. Fraenkel, a psychologist and “professional drummer” was able to combine his love of drums and hatred of Trump.
In the words of a veteran Washington hand, the problem of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the main UN agency dealing with Palestinians, is always important but never urgent.
Well, it just became urgent.
That’s because President Trump tweeted “with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” Then, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley added that the U.S. government is prepared to cut off funds to UNRWA. And, Axios reported, a U.S. payment of $125 million was not delivered (though that was later denied).
Throughout history, some of the greatest people often failed time after time before they really made it to the top. Others thought that they had failed but realized at a later stage in life that what they believed to be a failure was, in fact, a grand success. Still, others never succeeded — in the conventional sense of the word — but served as models of extraordinary accomplishments, sometimes without ever being aware of it.
The PLO and the Palestinian cause more generally are sinking into irrelevance and rather than reform their policies to rebuild their position, they have adopted a scorched earth policy that only intensifies their race to the bottom.
On the face of things, the situation isn’t bad. Last month the PLO got 128 nations to vote in favor of their anti-American resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One of the states that voted with them was India.
Israel was shocked by India’s move.