An excellent article written by physician-ethicist Joseph J. Fins in Harvard Medical School Bioethics Journal and it is my reading that he suggests when it comes to the psychiatric fitness of Donald Trump to be the United States President, it should not be a psychiatric diagnosis (such as “sociopathy”) from afar but should be the education of the public in a clinical non-partisan fashion by the psychiatrists of the symptoms of disease and it will be the public and their government to prescribe and carry out the appropriate treatment.
In Dr. Fin’s words:
In the context of the president’s personality, it is not an outright diagnosis that is needed per se but a public appreciation of what sociopathy is that can help inform a response. Medical diagnosis demands a high evidentiary standard. In the public sphere, mere knowledge of what sociopathy entails may enable the requisite scientific literacy for the citizenry to decide if observed behaviors fit a discernable pattern of psychiatric diagnosis that has a bearing on an ability to govern. This knowledge is especially important in sociopathy, which by its nature can obscure and seduce the observer. Human nature is drawn to sociopathy and vulnerable to its charm. Public awareness of sociopathy’s existence and nature is thus vital to deliberative democracy. This knowledge becomes a component of basic scientific literacy for deliberative democracy. Having said this, this knowledge need not require understanding at the level of clinical nosology. It may constitute essential knowledge like the germ theory of disease: even if they can not diagnostically distinguish an errant gastroenteritis caused by E. Coli or Salmonella, the public knows enough to engage in personal hygiene and perhaps avoid potato salads simmering in the sun at a summer picnic. Public knowledge about sociopathy has a similar utility: it can help guide behaviors and inform responses by our political leaders and journalists in the Fourth Estate as they do their work.
So read the entire but brief article and return with your idea of the role, if any, for the psychiatrists in relation to the American public with regard to President Trump. Remember, this thread is not about presidential policies but about how to make a psychiatric diagnosis and who should be supervising any treatment. ..Maurice.
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