Remember the Goldwater Rule? It’s the guiding principle in psychiatric medicine which “prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated.” Seems pretty basic, no? Particularly when it comes to matters of the human brain it’s hard enough to deliver a reliable diagnosis even if the doctor has had plenty of time to examine the patient personally, schedule tests for both behavior and potential chemical imbalances in the system and everything else that goes into the diagnostic process.

Well, according to the American Psychoanalytical Association, that rule can go out the window now. Gee… you don’t think it would have anything to do with President Trump, do you? (STAT News)

A leading psychiatry group has told its members they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures — even the president.

The statement, an email this month from the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association to its 3,500 members, represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior. It will likely make many of its members feel more comfortable speaking openly about President Trump’s mental health.

In the calm and reasonable way that most liberal journalists conduct themselves, Josh Marshall was out of the gate early with this restrained analysis of the decision.

Truly amazing am psych assoc says Trump so f’ing nuts they’re lifting Goldwater Rule

As usual, Josh is being at least somewhat misleading in his polite, professional description of the President’s health. The shorthand he uses (“am psych assoc”) might lead you to believe that the decision came from the American Psychiatric Association. But it didn’t. This is a much smaller group with a decidedly partisan history called the American Psychoanalytic Association. The difference is crucial in understanding what’s going on here. This group is quite small, representing between 3,000 and 3,500 members depending who you ask. They’ve been around for a while (founded in 1911) but represent the fringe of the profession. How fringe? Well, their 2015 Ralph Roughton Award winner was Griffin Hansbury, author of the renowned paper, “The Masculine Vaginal: Working with Queer Men’s Embodiment at the Transgender Edge.”

On the other hand, the actual American Psychiatric Association has been around since the early 1800s and represents more than 36,000 doctors in all fifty states. They are also responsible for the publication of papers such as this one from 2016, titled, The Goldwater Rule: Why breaking it is Unethical and Irresponsible.

But, on the plus side, if there are any hard core, Hillary supporting shrinks out there who want to get some face time on CNN or MSNBC to “diagnose” the President’s mental health without ever having been within a country mile of the man, there are options. They can always quit the American Psychiatric Association and go sign on with this fringe group that won’t cramp their style so much. It’s a free country, you know.