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
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.