Several of the nation's leading psychiatrists declared during a conference at the Yale School of Medicine Thursday that President Donald Trump is not fit to be president because of "dangerous mental illness." The event focused on how to address psychopathology in a national leader.
Without having personally examined the president, the experts cited paranoia, delusional and grandiose thinking, and even compared Trump to murderers and rapists in prison.
Dr. John Gartner, a psychotherapist and previous resident adviser at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, told his fellow psychiatrists in attendance that they had a duty to warn others about the dangers of Trump.
"We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump's dangerous mental illness," Gartner said, according to The Independent.
He cited Trump's claim of having the largest inauguration audience in American history as proof of the president's mental illness.
"Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was president," Gartner said. "If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional."
Gartner is a founding member of "Duty to Warn," a group of mental health professionals who believe Trump is not fit to serve as president. He also started a Change.org petition earlier this year that insisted Trump should be removed from office because of his mental state, as reported by The Independent.
The petition, titled "Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill and Must Be Removed," was signed by more than 50,000 people who self-reported as mental health professionals.
"As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room," Dr. Bandy Lee, the conference organizer and assistant clinical professor at Yale University, said. "I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now."
Perhaps the most troubling comments came from Dr. James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, who compared the danger of Trump to that of a convicted murderer or rapist, The Independent reported:
I’ve worked with some of the most dangerous people our society produces, directing mental health programs in prisons. I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognize dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend 50 years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.
Some in the medical community have criticized the comments, noting that it is in direct conflict with the "Goldwater Rule," which is part of the American Psychiatric Association's code of ethics. The rule indicates that it is unethical to give a professional opinion about a public figure they have not examined personally or received consent to do so.
Gartner refuted the criticisms, downplaying the necessity of a personal interview in order to diagnose someone.
"This notion that you need to personally interview someone to form a diagnosis actually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense," he said. "For one thing, research shows that the psychiatric interview is the least statistical reliable way to make a diagnosis."
A spokesman for Yale's Department of Psychiatry told TheBlaze the school endorsed their faculty's expertise.
"The Department of Psychiatry endorses the application of the expertise and experience of its faculty in the service of public policy," spokesman Tom Conroy said. "In this case, a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry, Bandy Lee, Ph.D., organized a conference focused on the question of how psychopathology in a national leader should be addressed. She invited nationally recognized experts in the field of mental health.
"The conference participants were specifically instructed to follow the Goldwater Rule, which prevents mental health professionals from diagnosing public figures based on second-hand information, i.e., information presented by the public media," Conroy continued.
Conroy also went on to express that the event and subsequent comments were not representative of Yale University or the Yale School of Medicine.
"It was made clear that the opinions presented at the conference did not represent those of the Department of Psychiatry or Yale University," he said.
Dr. Lee contacted TheBlaze after the publishing of this story and requested to add the following statement:
The panel at Yale School of Medicine abided by ‘the Goldwater rule.’ Eminent psychiatrists were invited to speak about whether there are other ethical rules that override it, as in ordinary practice. The organizer, Dr. Bandy Lee, agrees with the Goldwater rule, although she is troubled by its recent expansion (as of March 16, 2017) and the silencing of debate. She hopes that the public and politicians will understand that mental health issues are not to be used as a weapon. Psychologist Dr. John Gartner was invited as an activist but was not on the panel. The organizer emphasizes that the event was independent and did not represent the views of Yale University or Yale School of Medicine.