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Friday, March 26, 2021

Standing by Dr. Lee

Bandy Lee sues Yale, says university fired her over efforts to expose Donald Trump’s mental illness

As Dr. Bandy X. Lee’s frequent publisher, we, the editors of, believe she has made vital contributions to our understanding of public mental health, and she responsibly underscored the damaging effects of deeply mentally ill Donald Trump’s grip on the most powerful job in the world.

Trump’s delusions, which are well-documented and were noticed for decades, have resulted in the spread of baseless conspiracy theories, numerous acts of deadly violence and the failed Jan. 6 attempt to overthrow our government.

Collateral damage from Trumpism continues. Yet, some Trump followers who embraced his delusions appear to be recovering from their own temporary loss of rationality and mental well-being.

Yale University fired Lee, an established professor on its medical school faculty, citing the misnamed Goldwater Rule. That non-governmental policy — a gag order in Lee’s view — directs mental health professionals to hold their tongues about the mental well-being of officials.

American citizens discuss Trump’s mind every day around their kitchen tables, in public forums and on national television. To deny the citizenry the insights of educated mental health professionals is more than absurd; it is an attack on the very principle of American democratic self-governance.

We believe every one of her opinion columns and interviews falls well within the boundaries of the highest standards of responsible journalism.

The rule is itself of dubious provenance and relevance. And, it is outdated. Yet one of America’s leading universities clings to this orthodoxy in firing Lee after 17 years on its medical school faculty for advancing and widening human understanding of public mental health and the deleterious effects of governance by a leader who suffers from severe delusions.

All Americans should be deeply disturbed at Yale’s implicit attack on robust public debate by punishing Lee and seeking to intimidate other well-informed mental health scholars about our elected leaders and their fitness to hold office. This is especially so for anyone whose finger can press the nuclear button.

We have published more than 40 articles by Lee and expect to post more. We believe every one of her opinion columns and interviews falls well within the boundaries of the highest standards of responsible journalism. Her writing also advances our mission, which is to cover what politicians do not what they say and to encourage citizens to take their rightful ownership of our government.

Lawsuit Filed

On Monday, Lee filed a lawsuit against Yale for wrongful termination, as the student-run Yale Daily News reported today.

Lee’s complaint, logged in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, asserts that “Yale violated its contractual obligations to Dr. Lee and violated the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

“Yale further committed the tort of negligent misrepresentation by not adhering to its policies on academic freedom, upon which Dr. Lee had relied.”

We hope that the trustees and academic leaders at Yale cease their attack, acknowledge their error and embrace the fundamental principle of American democracy which depends on rational and reasoned debate, not dogma like the Goldwater Rule.

This rule was adopted in 1973 in response to a survey of more than 12,000 psychiatrists during the 1964 campaign between Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Some of the psychiatrists expressed obvious bias against Goldwater. The rule, adopted in 1973, was intended to “prevent reckless speculation by psychiatrists about public figures.”

The lawsuit notes that the American Psychiatric Association reinterpreted its Goldwater Rule shortly after Trump became president.

‘Gag Order’

“The reinterpreted Goldwater Rule created a gag order, recommending that its members not comment on public figures… even where there is a responsibility to society to protect public health” unless these politicians have submitted to psychiatric evaluation, the complaint states. It notes that the APA is a voluntary professional organization of psychiatrists, not a regulatory body with government powers. Lee dropped APA membership in 2007.

Lee says, and we agree, that the APA’s new interpretation of the rule is “in conflict with [the] duties, responsibilities and role in the interest of public health” in light of her belief that Donald Trump posed a dangerous threat to this country and the world.

For this reason, she held an ethics conference at Yale in April 2017 with some of the most respected members of her profession. This conference, initially attended by two dozen people, drew national attention and led to a public-service book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

That book became a New York Times bestseller.

While Yale did not sponsor the conference, Lee discussed the conference in advance with Yale officials. The university provided an auditorium without charge, making Lee’s firing all the more incoherent and indefensible academically, politically and morally.

The more than 40 Lee opinion pieces and interviews, some of them co-authored by other eminent authorities in mental health, can be read by clicking on this link provided by us.

DCReport is a reader-supported nonprofit and advertising-free public service journalism organization led by former senior and widely respected journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and other respected news organizations.