Psychiatry’s Mission

Improving society and bettering public health: This is psychiatry’s mission.

Thank you to David T. Springer, MD, who has commented on our Goldwater article in his response, “Why the Goldwater Rule Should Not be Changed.” Dialogue is always important and eye-opening.

Pardon me if I am wrong, but Dr Springer seems to think that the mission to improve society and better public health is a mission statement originated by Blotcky, Pies, and Moffic. It is not. It is psychiatry’s mission as elucidated by the American Psychiatric Association. We take this overarching mission seriously.

I do believe psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are in a unique position to comment on public health and societal matters due to our training, experience, and expertise. After all, we are mental health and behavior specialists of the highest order. If we do not grapple with such issues, we will leave a vacuum that will be costly to the public welfare.

I also believe psychiatrists and other mental health experts can—and must—separate their professional, scientific knowledge from their politics. We do it every day in our work lives.

Finally, the lack of psychiatrists’ comments about President Biden in comparison to Donald Trump has nothing to do with the Goldwater Rule. These psychiatrists may have simply decided that Biden has not exhibited any signs and behaviors that are worthy of comment. If Biden does exhibit such behaviors, I hope mental health experts will take notice and respond in a professional, scientific, and ethical way. That is where the Goldwater Rule comes into play.

Dr Blotcky is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama. He is also clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.