Mindfulness in Medicine

Mindfulness in Medicine - COMMENTARIES security, one could...

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security, one could reasonably defend it even if it violates the profession’s code of ethics and is personally damaging to that individual. In a controversial psychobiography of President George W. Bush, Frank, a psychiatrist, charac- terized the president as a “paranoid megalomaniac” and “un- treated alcoholic.” 14 Although these are clearly clinical and diagnostic labels that appear to violate the Goldwater Rule, Frank’s view is that his book is a scholarly psychobiogra- phy, not “expert opinion” and, as such, is outside the pur- view of APA ethics guideline. 15 Still, the line between a careful psychiatric profile and a casual off-the-cuff diagnosis of a public figure is not so clear. Even if the intent of the mental health professional in both situations is very different—understanding the psychology of the person (psychobiography) or assailing the character of a disliked political candidate (the Goldwater case)— both share a similar ethical problem: unauthorized psychi- atric assessment of a person who is not examined by the pro- fessional. Conclusion Mental health professionals can play a valuable role in the discussion of public figures and their mental health. Their comments should be geared toward general information about mental illnesses and their treatments. Those profes- sionals who offer their knowledge for public discourse should remember that their role is not to give an unsolicited or un- authorized professional opinion about an individual but to educate the public. Financial Disclosures: None reported. Additional Contributions: Robert Michels, MD (Department of Psychiatry, Weill Medical College, New York, New York), provided thoughtful comments on this topic. Dr Michels received no compensation for his contribution. REFERENCES 1. Kocieniewski D. Felled by scandal, Spitzer says focus is on his family. The New York Times . March 13, 2008:A1. 2. Carmichael M. His cheating brain. Newsweek . March 12, 2008;Psychology sec- tion:1. 3. Fact Magazine. 1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater Is Psychologically Unfit to be President! Vol 1, No. 5. New York, NY: Fact Publishing; September-October 1964. 4. Goldwater v Ginzburg , 414 F2d 324, 337 (2d Cir 1969), cert denied , 396 US 1049, 90 SCt 701, 24 LEd2d 695. 5. American Psychiatric Association. The Principles of Medical Ethics: Principles With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Press Inc; 2008. 6. American Psychological Association. Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Am Psychol . 2002;57(12):1060-1073. 7. Altman L. On the campaign trail, few mentions of McCain’s bout with melanoma. The New York Times . March 9, 2008:A1. 8.
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Mindfulness in Medicine - COMMENTARIES security, one could...

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