Donald Trump's mental health 'keeps getting worse', Washington insiders claim

The president's recent behaviour has prompted some mental health professionals to respond as well

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The Independent US

Concerns over Donald Trump’s mental status are taking hold in Washington and the media after the latest report that he leaked classified information to Russian officials. 

Reporters and television news programme pundits have been diving into comments from sources close to the president that speak to his mental health and mood in a way that has not been done with other presidents. However, the recent news about Mr Trump is also somewhat unprecedented. 

The Washington Post recently reported that Mr Trump revealed “highly classified” information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak during a meeting in the Oval Office. 

The meeting took place just one day after Mr Trump unceremoniously fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into alleged ties between Russia and Mr Trump’s campaign team. 

Also, the New York Times reported that Mr Trump asked Mr Comey to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s alleged Russia ties, adding that Mr Flynn “he’s a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” 

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe programme, co-host Joe Scarborough commented that “People on the inside say he keeps getting worse — and mentally, keeps getting worse.” 

In another report, the Washington Post said their sources called into question Mr Trump’s “state of mind.” 

Carl Bernstein, the legendary journalist who uncovered the Watergate scandal and corruption within the Nixon presidency, argued that reporting on Mr Trump’s mental fitness is valid. 

“We have many reporters, myself included, who have talked to numerous people, Republicans on Capitol Hill, who in private will tell you they doubt the stability of this president,” he said. 

However, those speculating are not trained mental health professionals. 

The American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics states “a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.“ 

The clause, dating back to 1973, has been dubbed the “Goldwater Rule,” named after the 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. 

Over 2,000 psychiatrists responded to a magazine’s 1964 survey asking if Mr Goldwater was psychologically fit for the presidency in their estimation and the majority said he was not. 

The magazine then published nearly 40 pages of the psychiatrists’ responses shortly before the election. Mr Goldwater lost the election and sued the now-defunct Fact magazine for libel and won. 

Psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe medication as necessary. Psychologists usually have doctorate degrees but are not medical doctors. 

Still, the American Psychological Association issued a statement regarding their version of the “Goldwater Rule” during the 2016 presidential campaign given the number of media outlets calling them to weigh in on Mr Trump’s psychological fitness to become president. 

“Our Code of Ethics clearly warns psychologists against diagnosing any person, including public figures, whom they have not personally examined,” President Susan H. McDaniel, PhD wrote. 

Some professionals, however, are disregarding the “Goldwater Rule” because they feel Mr Trump's position and behaviour make him an exception and that they have a duty to weigh in. 

Thirty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers - some of them retired - have signed a letter to the editors of the New York Times expressing their concern over Mr Trump’s “profound inability to empathise.”

They wrote people with this trait “distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them.”