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American Psychiatric Association warns against diagnosing 'public figures' without examining them

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The American Psychiatric Association sent a memo to its members advising them not to diagnose "public figures" with illnesses or certain dispositions without first actually examining them.

What did the memo say?

Reaffirming its stance against long-distance diagnosis, the American Psychiatric Association said that "public figures whom they have not examined" should not receive a diagnosis, nor should members of the American Psychiatric Association be making off-the-cuff diagnoses without having the information to back their determination.

"We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media," a portion of the statement read.

"Arm-chair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical," the statement continued.

The American Psychiatric Association reminded its members in a memo of "The Goldwater Rule," a rule that's been in place since 1973. The rule says it's unethical for psychiatrists to give professional opinions on public figures who haven't been examined first-hand.

Dr. Saul Levin, the American Psychiatric Association's CEO and medical director, was quoted in the association's news release saying that the "APA stands behind this rule."

What's the background on this?

The memo was released amid ramped-up rhetoric surrounding the state of President Donald Trump's mental health, including Rep. Brendan Boyle's (D-Pa.) introduction of the "Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection Act," or the "STABLE GENIUS Act."

The act would require presidential candidates to undergo a medical evaluation prior to the general election.

"Before voting for the highest office in the land, Americans have a right to know whether an individual has the physical and mental fitness to serve as President of the United States," Boyle said in a statement, according to the Examiner.

Other speculation of Trump's mental fitness has included author Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," which raised questions of the president's mental capabilities.

Yale University psychiatrist Bandy Lee edited 2017's "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," the fruits of a collaborative effort containing the testimonials of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts and professionals. Lee also met with members of Congress to discuss the president's mental health and his demeanor.

Additionally, Lee on Monday told NPR's "On Point" that the president showed signs of "unraveling."

"We are not stating that Mr. Trump has a certain condition or that any of these are definitive conclusions," Lee said. "We are stating that we see signs of danger and we need to educate the public."

Lee co-wrote a Politico article, published Wednesday, defending herself from criticisms that she was violating the Goldwater Rule, and said that it's possible to determine the level of a person's "dangerousness" by speaking with "co-workers and intimates," as well as by "reviewing the individual's past statements and behaviors."

"While an in-person interview can be quite useful, it is not strictly required to assess danger," the article read, and noted that the president's health is "tied" to the health of society.

"In this case, Trump's mental state poses a serious danger that we must be willing to discuss and address," the article continued.

Trump's mental health was the subject of many social media posts in December after he appeared to slur words on national television. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president was simply suffering from dry mouth, calling any questions about Trump's health "frankly, pretty ridiculous."

Trump is set to have his first medical checkup since taking office, an appointment which is set for Friday.

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