A psychotic weasel, in the nonscientific sense
HUGH HEWITT, HOST: ... I know you’ve said before you no longer practice psychiatry. You’ve given that up. But I want to tempt you to do a little armchair diagnosis here. On the New York Times front page yesterday, Peter Baker wrote about a series of dinners the President’s been having, and our friend John Hinderaker at Powerline says he sounds whiny. He sounds depressed to me. What do you think is his mental state?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: That’s very funny, because my specialty when I was a psychiatrist was bipolar disease. And I wrote some papers on manic disease. He’s not manic, and I don’t think he’s depressed. And I, you know, look. I’ve foresworn psychiatry simply because you really can’t do it at a distance. And one other thing is that you remember 1964 when about 500 psychiatrist signed a statement that Barry Goldwater was psychically unfit for the presidency?
HH: Well, I’ve read about it. I don’t remember it.
CK: Oh, you’re not young enough. Actually, I probably got it second-hand, for all I know.
I expect that's true. Chuckles was born in 1950, the article that made the matter famous was published in '64, and the last appeal of the resulting lawsuit was rejected in 1969. (The Supreme Court declined to hear it the following January, with Black and Douglas dissenting.)
Short version: Fact magazine, one of Ralph Ginzburg's gifts to the free-speech world, had run a special Goldwater issue -- "The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater" -- the month before the 1964 election, including among other things an ill-concocted "poll" of psychiatrists. Goldwater sued. Ginzburg more or less admitted at trial that several assertions in the issue were, well, you know, kinda-sorta made up despite evidence that contradicted them. So Goldwater remains one of the rare public officials to win a libel case under the Sullivan standard. Anyway, continue:
But that’s a real abuse. Psychiatrists, doctors and others who use their science, or even the global warming folks, you know, you have your expertise, and some people just use it to try to bludgeon other people with their authority.
Yes. That seems to be kind of what the American Psychiatric Association had in mind a few years later when it banned jackleg pseudo-diagnosis for the media.
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