Friday, January 12, 2018

Dr. Bandy Lee's Duty to Warn

Now that Dr. Bandy X. Lee has occupied far too much media space with her pseudo-scientific denunciations of President Trump, the American Psychiatric Association has declared her work to be unethical.

Lee does not know and has never met Donald Trump. She does know that psychiatrists are not supposed to diagnose people they have never met. She does not know that members of her profession have a duty to maintain the profession’s good name and good reputation.

And yet, she has thrown caution to the winds because she believes that she has a “duty to warn” the world of impending danger.

David Cole explains (via Maggie’s Farm):

Lee attempts to skirt the Goldwater Rule by invoking what’s known as the “duty to warn,” a legal concept that requires a psychiatrist to breach patient confidentiality if the doctor becomes aware of a clear, present, and impending risk to others posed by the patient. Putting aside the fact that Trump is not Lee’s patient and that they’ve never even met, Lee and the other contributors to her book argue that they have a “duty to warn” about Trump because he’s about to kill everyone on earth, or something to that effect (the phrase “duty to warn” is used 28 times in Lee’s book, five times in one paragraph alone on page 114).

The American Psychiatric Association defines the “duty to warn” 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.

Recently, the APA has issued the following clarification:

The APA would also like to dispel a common misconception about the so-called “Duty to Warn.” The duty to warn is a legal concept which varies from state to state, but which generally requires psychiatrists to breach the confidentiality of the therapeutic session when a risk of danger to others becomes known during treatment of the patient. It does not apply if there is no physician-patient relationship.

Cole diagnoses Dr. Lee with a messiah complex. She believes that it is up to her to save the world and humanity. Once you start thinking in these “delusional” terms, anything goes:

Here is a woman with a messiah complex; she thinks she’s saving the world. And once someone convinces themselves that they’re trying to save humanity itself, they become capable of anything, including betraying the rules of their profession.

Look, Trump’s no Calvin Coolidge. He’s a blowhard, a loudmouth, he’s impulsive, he’s egotistical (hell, we knew that going in). But it’s a mistake to put so much stock in the unprofessional (non)diagnosis of an attention-seeking doctor who thinks she’s mankind’s only hope for survival.

And Cole recalls the dire predictions that Dr. Helen Caldicott made after meeting with President Reagan:

In 1983, she managed to wrangle a 75-minute meeting with Reagan. Note that that’s 75 minutes more than Lee has ever spent with Trump. Following the meeting, Caldicott announced to the world that she had “diagnosed” Reagan as having a “paranoid delusional” disorder. In a seriesof talks she gave throughout 1983 and ’84, she declared, over and over again, that if Reagan were to be reelected in 1984, nuclear war would become not only “inevitable,” but a “mathematical certainty.” Yes, she used that term. “Mathematical certainty.” Because, she swore, her 75-minute “diagnosis” was faultless. Trust her; she’s a doctor.

1 comment:

James said...

It really is getting down to the basic of who gets to decide and who decides who gets to decide.