Psychiatrists have valuable insights on political and societal issues that can be shared with the psychiatric community.
FROM OUR READERS
I have been considering Ronald W. Pies, MD’s, recent commentary “Does Russia Suffer From ‘Paranoid Government Disorder’?”1 and find myself thinking back to his previous article from 2018: “Psychiatry, ‘Dangerousness,’ and the President.”2 His most recent article supports the concept that psychiatrists may be in a unique position to offer valuable commentary on political and societal concerns. This appears directly contrary to the opinion he expressed in 2018 where he criticized the “misapplication of psychiatric labels in order to vent displeasure.”
After I read The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,3 I felt proud of the courageous mental health professionals who contributed to this in-depth and revealing interpretation of our then-president’s statements and actions. They utilized their experience as clinicians and research to describe patterns of behavior most consistent in an individual with severe emotional pathology, which resulted in dire consequences to our society (as is currently manifest from the events of January 6). Psychiatric organizations were highly critical of this publication and declared the contributors to be unethical. Dr Pies agreed, and in his 2018 article, he recommended that a professional's opinions regarding political and social issues should only be expressed privately to the appropriate civil authorities, congressional representatives, or magistrates.
I am grateful that Dr Pies now feels moved to publish his opinions on political and societal issues so that these valuable insights can be shared with the psychiatric community and the public at large. A pertinent concept often (falsely) attributed to Edmund Burke is that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I am proud of all mental health professionals, including Dr Pies, who have the courage to do something and publicly state their opinions.
Dr Burkeis a psychiatrist in Perrysburg, Ohio, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including ProMedica Bay Park Hospital and ProMedica Toledo Hospital.
1. Pies RW. Does Russia suffer from "paranoid government disorder”? Psychiatric Times. April 4, 2022. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/does-russia-suffer-from-paranoid-government-disorder
2. Knoll JL IV, Pies RW. Psychiatry, “dangerousness,” and the president. Psychiatric Times. February 16, 2018. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychiatry-dangerousness-president
3. Lee BX, ed. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President - Updated and Expanded with New Essays. Thomas Dunne Books; 2019.