Professional Organizations and the Goldwater Rule

Organizational Ethics Consortium

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) established the Goldwater Rule, which states "it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement."

Recently, psychiatrists concerned about President Trump's behavior have challenged the rule, arguing that as professionals they have a duty to warn the public about the mental state of our nation's leader.

How can professional organizations, like the APA and the American Medical Association, best respond to ethical controversies of this kind? How can responses augment organizational learning and public understanding? The consortium will focus on organizational process, not the pros and cons of the Goldwater Rule itself.

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Rebecca Brendel, MD, JD

Master's Program Director
Center for Bioethics

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School

Medical Director
One Fund Center, Massachusetts General Hospital


Ronald Pies, MD

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus
Psychiatric Times

Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry
Lecturer on Bioethics & Humanities
SUNY Upstate Medical University

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Tufts University School of Medicine