The “Goldwater Rule” was adopted by the American Psychiatric Association after the 1964 presidential election, when psychiatrists weighed in with their “diagnosis” of the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, without having had any contact with him.
During the 1964 campaign, Fact Magazine published “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater.” They asked 12,300 psychiatrists whether Barry Goldwater was “psychologically fit” to be president. 2,400 psychiatrists responded, and about 1,200 said that Goldwater was “unfit.” Two months later, Lyndon Baines Johnson won re-election by a landslide.
In 1966, Barry Goldwater sued the now-defunct Fact Magazine and was awarded $75,000. (In those day, the sum was quite a “chunk of change.”)
Since the adoption of the Goldwater Rule, in 1973, it has been considered unethical for members of the APA to diagnose prominent political figures without direct contact and without authorization to do so.
The two most vocal psychiatrists leading a Donald Trump-inspired charge to change a 44-year-old rule barring those in their profession from diagnosing public figures from afar donate heavily to Democratic Party causes.
Lance Dodes and John Zinner told the Los Angeles Times last week that the special circumstances of the Donald Trump presidency demand a revocation of the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule, established as a result of psychiatrists using their professional credentials to attack the credibility of the 1964 Republican Party presidential nominee, that currently prohibits such medical evaluations by remote. The Times identified the pair just as psychiatrists without noting their public record of donating to such groups as MoveOn.org and ActBlue, as well as a who’s-who of the Democratic Party….
The pair spoke as professionals rather than partisans to the Los Angeles Times and other outlets. Dodes even insisted to U.S. News and World Report (which did not report his politics), “This has nothing to do with politics.”
Instead, Dodes has characterized his stance as prioritizing broad concerns regarding national security over the narrow concerns of his professional group….
In February, Dodes served as the lead signatory of a letter to the New York Times by 35 mental-health professionals calling for the end of the so-called Goldwater Rule….