Posts Tagged ‘groupthink’


Social science observers of a presidential administration: then and now

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Historians count within their profession a subset who specialize in analyzing and critiquing the efficacy of U.S. Presidents. It’s less likely that social scientists apply their specialty to how successfully presidential administrations operate. That has certainly changed with Trump stepping into the role.

Evaluating how Trump’s habits and high self-regard can undermine his personal success, and in turn, quash hopes for a compassionate and caring federal government, has been the focus of many clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals. The running commentary (and pseudo-diagnoses) by professionals who have no access to personally testing and interviewing Trump is said to violate the “Goldwater Rule” adopted in 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association after the failed presidential candidacy of Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964. The movie Dr. Strangelove was released in the campaign year.

It seems an article (Fact magazine, Sept-Oct 1964) exploring the mind of candidate Goldwater who held then-radical ideas contained results of a poll of 2100 psychiatrists, of whom 1,189 considered Goldwater unfit for office. Goldwater sued and won in court but only awarded $1. He did receive $75,000 in punitive damages. He sued for $1 million. Fact stopped publishing in 1967.

This historical self-imposed norm held among mental health types until Trump showed an inability to control impulsive behavior from the very start of his term in office. Since then, armchair analysts — some mental health professionals, lay public critics, and media commentators — have freely commented on Trump’s personality and behavioral shortcomings.

The justification for putting aside the Goldwater rule is that the ethical obligation to alert the public to potential harm from Trump’s conduct is more important than sitting on the sidelines and not sharing what can be inferred from his public misconduct. Two professors of psychiatry cry danger over Trump’s inability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



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