No political view is expressed in this article, my intention is to discuss the moral and ethical aspects of the question only.
The prime minister of Israel in the last 9 years is Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing coalition. Netanyahu faces a fierce opposition, both in the government and in the media - there are some known opposing journal writers that have even been sued for items they wrote about him. Rallies with thousands of participants are regularly held against him and his “regiment”.
During the fierce and emotional rallies, and sometimes in the media too – Netanyahu is being accused with corruption, self-caring and oppression.
This atmosphere made me look in the situation in the USA, and nowadays – with** president Donald Trump**, it is clear that the accusations directed at him are much more severe, this is no longer about whether his acts are for his own interests our for the people’s interests but about something much more basic:
People are accusing Trump of being mentally unstable, meaning that they question not only his interests but his basic ration and ability to make decisions. For example – after the release of journalist Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury - a book accusing Trump of being impatient, Unable to focus and self-repeating, Trump twittered saying that his “two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart”.
So, this is not a minor problem – the mental condition of the leader of the strongest nation in the world is being questioned.
recently – Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, the new governor of Virginia – called Trump a “narcissistic maniac” and claimed it’s medically correct. In fact – this terminology isn’t acceptable medically speaking but it did the desired effect Northam striven to achieve.
Moreover – a book available at Amazon "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President" offers the unanimous opinion of 27 psychiatrists and psychologists that Trump’s mental state presents a clear danger to the American nation.
We might ask – is it legitimate to criticize leaders publicly without restrictions? Moreover – is it legitimate, legally and morally, for psychiatric professionals to express medical opinions about leaders?
It is clear that Leaders can, and should, be criticized for their actions – democracy is based upon giving the people the utmost degree of freedom, freedom of speech included, and about the presentation of the people in the government by their** elected representatives**. the representatives should care the people’s interests – and in case they do not – the people have the right to protest and try to become involved and affect the national decision makings – of course, lying is forbidden and such accusations can be ruled in determined in the courts.
But – regarding the medical opinions expressed by professional psychiatrists, things become a bit** more complicated:
The American Psychiatric Association (APA**) position in their ethical code is that psychiatrists should not offer diagnostic opinions about persons they have not examined in person, which is obviously the case here. Shortly after Trump was elected, the APA broadened the rule so that forbids the expression of “any opinion on the affect, behavior, speech, or other presentation of an individual that draws on the skills, training, expertise, and/or knowledge inherent in the practice of psychiatry”.
On the other hand – the criticizing psychiatrists claim that their action is in accordance to another section of the APA’s ethical code – “A physician shall recognize a** responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community** and the betterment of public health.” – in short, psychiatrists has a responsibility to the well-being of the public.
So who is correct? Should we encourage medical professionals to express their medical related opinions regarding leaders they believe are putting the public in danger? Or should we** be cautious** and **discourage ** it in order to protect leaders from opinions that has little clinical data to be based upon?
Personally – I am concerned that expressing such opinions will harm the reputation of Psychiatrists and medical doctors generally, and such opinions better be avoided.
What do you think? Express yourself in the comments please :)
Images source: Pixabay.
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