A surprise appearance by the American Psychiatric Association has created one of the latest stars of our presidential campaign slogfest. At least in this writer's mind. They haven't exactly been a key player in the race, but it makes perfect sense at this point. The Association has issued a reminder warning to psychiatrists across the country: "No psychoanalyzing Donald Trump". That's a pretty tough call.
Little did Trump know about something already known in shrink circles as the Goldwater Rule. It prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they haven't personally evaluated, and grew out of Senator Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. Goldwater was an out of the box right wing Republican politician, so much so that the candidate bashing of that era got out of hand. It included a large group of generally surveyed psychiatrists who agreed that Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be President. And he hadn't visited any of their couches.
That the American Psychiatric Association has felt the need to make their official "unethical" stamp public again last week says even more about our current Republican candidate and the times we now live in. After this election, they may feel the need to create an updated rule and re-brand it the Trump Rule.
For the rest of us not formally trained in the mental health field, it's gotten close to impossible not to analyze Donald Trump's behavior. Whether it's your friends or neighbors or the President of the United States, almost everyone has an analytic opinion of him. But that's only part of the picture. It's the impact his words and behavior are having on others, here and around the world, that remains of most concern.
The first piece I wrote for this blog in October of last year, The 2016 Presidential Campaign and Our Kids, focused on what had already become a contentious campaign and its potential effects on our kids. The original post was updated months later with 2016 Presidential Campaign and Our Kids - Take 2 when a formal study showed the fear factor emanating from the campaign had definitively spread to teachers as well as their students. The mere mention of Trump's name caused anxiety in some children.
And it hasn't gotten any better. Several weeks ago I was walking into our local supermarket at the same time as a young family. They had a beautiful little girl in their arms, and I took a minute to share a compliment. We began to briefly chat. They asked about something in the neighborhood, and I spontaneously asked where they were from. It was the pause before their answer came that said so much. "We're from Mexico" they replied a bit too softly, as if they had something to hide. They did not. Each worked for the World Bank, but it made no difference.
I've grown weary of hearing excuses for Donald Trump's bad behavior. How he's just not politically correct. Or of how his campaign is disruptive politics. He's not an establishment politician. Or he can't control himself. It's time for Donald Trump to take responsibility for his actions and be held accountable. That's what we teach our kids, isn't it? There are no 'buts' or excuses. Either you shape up or there's a consequence.