Abstract: The American Psychiatric Association implemented the “Goldwater Rule” in 1973. It stipulates that psychiatrists should not diagnose individuals with whom they have not had therapeutic contact or on the basis of their public performances. In response to Donald Trump’s public behavior, mental health practitioners of various stripes have violated the spirit of this “rule” and similar ethical guidelines by offering diagnoses of his psychological condition and character. The interplay in public discourse of clinical and vernacular terminology pertaining to mental states creates shades of grey in characterizations of Trump’s non-normative behavior, leading to confusion about the difference between psychological conditions and rhetorical strategies. This raises ethical questions about the blurring of boundaries between rhetorical and psychological diagnoses of public figures.
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