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date: 17 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In 1964, well over 2000 US psychiatrists responded to a magazine poll questioning Barry Goldwater’s psychological fitness to serve as president of the USA. The embarrassment this poll caused the field subsequently led to the American Psychiatric Association’s adoption of the “Goldwater Rule,” prohibiting psychiatrists from offering a professional opinion about an individual in the absence of an examination and the proper authorization to release such information. Is this sweeping ban proper, or are there situations in which psychiatric commentary on the behavior and motivations of a public figure can be justified? In this chapter, it is argued that under some circumstances, opining from afar—in the absence of direct examination or permission to disclose one’s opinions—can be justified.

Keywords: Goldwater Rule, opining from afar, professional opinion, psychiatric commentary, American Psychiatric Association

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