Those included the mental stability of politico Barry Goldwater. As a result the guardians of that profession felt the need to issue the Goldwater Rule. That banned providing a psychiatric diagnosis in public of those not evaluated in-person.
The Tarasoff case weakened the Goldwater Rule. It embraced the ideology that there was a duty of mental health professionals to warn if people are a danger to themselves or others. However, shrinks who knew the law were careful in that territory. The alleged miscreant could file myriad lawsuits.
That was then.
It was the heyday of blind faith in the power of psychiatry and various forms of psychotherapy to heal the damaged psyche.
During the 1970s, I did three years of couch time. It was at the prestigious University of Michigan Medical Center with David W. Harder. He is now a full professor of psychology at Tufts University. Looking back, I can only smirk.
Now, who really gives a damn about what mental health professionals opine?
Even on the myriad cop and legal shows on television, law enforcement and those in the legal profession have the power. Now and then a shrink is brought on stage to rule on the ability of the alleged miscreant to stand trial or have the capacity to understand right and wrong.
In one episode of the popular "Blue Bloods," police commissioner Frank Reagan has a session with a shrink in an high-end Manhattan building. Early into the session, Reagan walks out. He gains emotional and spiritual relief sorting it all out with his father and his dying former police partner. The series had just been renewed for another season. Therefore, the producers, directors and writers knew what they were doing giving the thumbs-down on shrinkville.
Given this declining confidence in shrinkville, it is interesting to note that last week's Yale University town hall meeting, focused on the duty to warn about the alleged mental problems of Donald Trump, was not heavily attended. Here is New York Magazine's coverage of that non-event.
Smart shrinks know to keep away from that sort of thing.
It not only could negatively impact their careers. It is stage crafting without an audience, at least not the one with the authority and power to change what is.
A more productive investment is to hire a lobbying firm that knows its way around Washington D.C. That's how things start to get done. Meanwhile, on social media, those alarmed about the president's alleged emotional challenges have huffed and puffed. But they haven't brought the House of Trump down.
By now, in the history of capitalism, too many of us have made a good living employed by those who could probably be classified as mentally unstable. Pragmatic players took the money and ran. That's the way the game gets played at the top.
To our intimates, we might have shared that we considered this or that boss or client "nuts."
We might have tried to protect our subordinates who seemed like they couldn't "take it."
Likely, we consulted a lawyer on how we could push back if the oppressive situation worsened.
And, through dirty tricks like leaks and simple bad-mouthing we could maintain a feeling of being in control.
But none of us had been naïve enough about how the world worked to strive to have the powers officially declared mentally unfit to do their jobs. The reality was and is this: If they are really over that edge they do themselves in. The term for that is "tragic flaw." Like King Lear on the heath, they self-implode. In the New York Metro area, they leap from tall buildings and throw themselves in front of trains. Happens all the time.
Shrinks going out there in public with a duty to warn about Trump are probably feeling quite important. But there is no spillover outside their small circle of influence. The rest of us are preoccupied trying on make a living in this slow-growth economy in the developed world. The odds are we are hoping one of those allegedly unstables will hire us for a job or client assignment.
BTW, there is a fascinating book on the correlation between a little bit of craziness and lots of economic success. It's "The Hypomaic Edge" by John D. Gartner. The author mentions that Alexander Hamilton was nutty enough to have George Washington cooling his heels. Here the book can ordered from Amazon.
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