As psychiatrists, we have serious concerns regarding the opinion piece by Drs. Bandy X. Lee and Leonard L. Glass and Edwin B. Fisher (“Looking at the Mueller report from a mental health perspective,” May 9), who reach sweeping conclusions regarding President Trump. The authors treat special counsel Robert Mueller’s report like a Rosetta stone, whereby secondhand observations are glibly translated into supposed psychopathology.
Lacking firsthand, clinical observations or personal evaluation of Trump, Lee and colleagues make extraordinary leaps of logic and judgment. For example, they cite Trump’s reaction (“Oh my God. This is terrible”) to learning that a special counsel had been appointed as evidence of Trump’s “lack of control over emotions.” Yet many observers might view this as an understandable emotional reaction to potentially devastating political news.
The authors assert, without providing credible evidence, that Trump is “delusionally heedless” of the consequences of his actions, and imply that he suffers from “paranoia” that can carry “a high risk of violence” — unsubstantiated claims that also misleadingly link mental illness with violence.
Furthermore, their piece is rife with highly charged, subjective buzzwords, such as “seditious,” “egregiousness,” and “foolishness” — terms that have no place in an objective psychiatric evaluation.
Psychiatrists, like all US citizens, surely have a right to oppose presidential policies they believe jeopardize our country’s safety. Unfortunately, Lee, Glass, and Fisher have used the Mueller report to advance an agenda of pseudoscientific speculation that, in our view, is inconsistent with ethical conduct in psychiatry.
Knoll is director of forensic psychiatry and professor of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University, where Dr. Pies is professor emeritus of psychiatry and a lecturer on bioethics. Pies is also on the faculty of Tufts University School of Medicine.