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Letters to the Editor
Goldwater Rule
Psychiatric News
Volume 42 Number 20 page 22-22

The letter by Henry Pinsker, M.D., in the August 3 issue discussing the" Goldwater Rule" doesn't begin to tell the whole story. Simply highlighting the unwarranted adverse comments made by APA members back in 1964 about presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's mental health is unfair to APA. The fact is that just over 80 percent of the membership did not respond to the Fact magazine questionnaire asking about Goldwater's fitness to be president of the United States.

Responses from several psychiatrists were included in the Fact article. I especially liked the reply by Hubert Miller, M.D. of Detroit:" If you will send me written authorization from Sen. Goldwater and arrange for an appointment, I shall be happy to send his mental status. The same goes to you."

The comment by Eleanor Crissey, M.D., of New York, clearly reflected the feelings of the vast majority of American psychiatrists in 1964: "Your survey is an offensive attack on a senator who is a legitimately nominated presidential candidate. It is an open smear tactic, and I am angry that you attempt to involve American psychiatrists in such a cheap and psychiatrically unsound maneuver."

I am pleased to see that the APA Task Force to Update the Ethics Annotations is proposing a revision of Section 7 of The Principles of Medical Ethics With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry containing the so-called Goldwater Rule. The rule that the task force is suggesting would eliminate the ambiguities and restrictions of the current rule, making it possible for APA members who have specific expertise to express their views, under very specific guidelines, about persons who are in the light of public attention.

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