School of Medicine psychiatrist Bandy Lee MED ’94 DIV ’95 visited Washington, D.C. last month to brief lawmakers on President Donald Trump’s mental state.

On Dec. 5 and 6, Lee met with more than a dozen congressmen, including one Republican senator, Politico reported. In her presentation, Lee relied on the assessments of 27 mental health professionals, compiled in the book she edited, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” Though she could not diagnose Trump without a formal evaluation, she said, Trump’s recent behavior shows that he may be a danger to the American public.

“Under stress he has shown that he goes into attack mode and seems to resort to violence at times of feeling threatened or feeling powerless in some way,” she said in an interview with the News. “He uses violence to burnish his sense of power, and that is [mental health professionals’] great concern.”

Lee, a faculty member in the Yale School of Medicine’s Law and Psychiatry Division, specializes in global health and violence. She has worked as a consultant to governments in Ireland, France, California, Connecticut and other states on violence prevention.

Beyond her book, Lee has advocated for Congress to conduct a mental evaluation of the president. In a November letter to the editor published in the New York Times, she argued that Trump’s access to weapons and his volatility, unpredictability and predisposition toward violence put the world “at extreme risk of danger.”

Last April, Lee hosted an ethics conference at the School of Medicine, at which mental health professionals discussed whether psychiatrists should ever warn the public about the mental state of a public figure. Discussion also touched explicitly on Trump. After the conference, several congressmen independently reached out to Lee. One former congressman even arranged for Lee to testify in front of Congress, but the testimony was continually postponed without cause, she told the News. Lee said that her speech in front of Congress now seems less and less feasible.

After a group of mental health professionals formed to discuss the potential public health danger of Trump’s mental state, a former assistant U.S. attorney arranged for the group to meet with her personal contacts in Congress. Another psychiatrist, James Gilligan, joined Lee in Washington on the second day of the conference to discuss their mutual concern.

Lee said that during the meeting, congressmen interrupted her and Gilligan to say that they needed no convincing but could not act with a Republican-majority Congress.

For months, several members of Congress have questioned whether Trump’s mental state could be grounds to invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides for the removal of a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The provision allows for the removal of a president from office if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet determine that the president is mentally or physically unable to carry out the duties of office.

Legal experts’ questions about Trump’s fitness for office recently resurfaced when, in a Jan. 2 tweet responding to  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day address, the president boasted that his nuclear button is “much bigger” than Kim’s.

Lee and two other medical professionals, representing the National Coalition of Concerned Mental Health Experts, released a statement citing Trump’s comments as evidence for his mental “unraveling.” They urged Congress to pass legislation restraining Trump in an effort to avoid a “nuclear catastrophe.”

Later this month, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, will host Lee for a briefing with dozens of congressmen. And U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland — who proposed a commission to evaluate Trump’s capacity to serve as president — invited the psychiatrist to speak at his town hall meeting.

Beyond the realm of politics, Lee’s psychoanalysis of Trump in her book and her briefing to Congress have stirred controversy in psychiatric circles, with former president of the American Psychiatric Association and Columbia professor of psychiatry Jeffrey Lieberman calling the book “awdry, indulgent, fatuous, tabloid psychiatry.” Recent guidelines published by the APA discourage psychiatrists from offering professional opinions about the mental state of someone without personally evaluating them, making Lee’s presentation on Trump’s mental state highly unusual.

In an interview with the News, Lee argued that she was not breaking the Goldwater Rule — an APA guideline that states it is unethical for a psychiatrist to give public opinion about a public figure’s mental state without the individual’s consent or without in-person consultation — given that she is not diagnosing the president. Rather, she said, she is speaking to Trump’s “dangerousness,” which can be remotely evaluated based on the “situation.” She added that she and her fellow psychiatrists were “ethically charged” with speaking out in the interest of public health.

When asked whether she thought that she and her colleagues were politicizing mental illness, she responded that thousands of mental health professionals across the political spectrum have reached a consensus that Trump is dangerous. She said that she has not encountered a mental health professional who disagrees or can be certain that Trump is not dangerous.

University spokeswoman Karen Peart declined to comment on Lee’s psychoanalysis of the president.

“The University does not take positions or issue statements regarding the health or medical condition of public officials,” Peart said in a statement to the News. “However, the University will not interfere with the free expression or academic freedom of faculty members who wish to express their opinions in their areas of expertise or otherwise. Dr. Lee’s position and opinions are her own and do not represent the views of the University.”

Two days after the news broke of Lee’s meeting in Washington, Trump took to Twitter to defend his “mental stability,” calling himself a “very stable genius.” Lee said these remarks were “concerning” but not surprising, as she and her colleagues had predicted the president would unravel with further stress.

Seventy at the time of his inauguration, Trump is the oldest U.S. president ever elected to a first term in office.

 

Adelaide Feibel | adelaide.feibel@yale.edu

Hailey Fuchs | hailey.fuchs@yale.edu

  • Nancy Morris

    Good article.

    • ShadrachSmith

      Getting coverage all over the fruited plain. Right up there with the Christakis and Montague coverage.

      • Nancy Morris

        Lee and her collaborators are clearly acting unethically, in violation of professional norms and inflicting serious damage to Yale’s interests and to those of psychiatry. Yale medical school should deal with Lee as it would deal with any seriously unethical practitioner and faculty member. Surely the terms of faculty employment do not require Yale to retain someone on staff who has been found to be acting in violation of applicable professional ethical codes.

        • ShadrachSmith

          So say us all.

  • Rod Berne

    Psychiatry. Same profession that once classified homosexuality as a mental illness?

    • ShadrachSmith

      …that was unnecessary, or profound?

  • cardcounter

    It is disgusting to the point of being obscene that this nut job can diagnose someone she has never seen in person, never talked to, and doesn’t know anything about other than she doesn’t agree with his policies.

    She gets her 15 seconds of fame and in the process embarrasses the sane element of Yale University.

  • cardcounter

    It makes me want to vomit when she states she is “ethically charged” with speaking out. What about all the liberal politicians who go on rants and act crazy? Isn’t she ethically charged with speaking out about them. She is a hypocrite, a publicity seeker, and should be fired from Yale.

    • Timely Rain

      Well said. It’s disgraceful to Yale. She should be fired.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Barking at the Russian moon didn’t work out, now they’re going to try to sell crazy? That has an audience, but economic success counts. Nobody cares if Trump’s a genius or just lucky, insofar as his job is peace and prosperity Trump is the best since Reagan.

    If you must criticize, perhaps look to your own house: “Many of Connecticut’s wealthy residents are moving out, and they’re taking their money with them. Legislators, this is strong evidence that taxing residents at high rates is becoming counterproductive.” – Hartford Courant.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  • SVV

    Not the first time psychiatry is pimped out for political purposes — the Soviet Union employed gobs and gobs of them.

  • Hubert_the_Infant

    Everything wrong with today’s Yale in one article.

  • ShadrachSmith

    It only makes sense if she was intentionally putting Yale’s imprimatur on the new meme that Trump’s Crazy, for DNC/Media PR purposes. That would take prior authorization, one might think.

    • Nancy Morris

      Looking beyond Lee and Yale, it’s hard to believe national Democrats did any serious research before launching their new “Trump’s Crazy” meme. Extensive focus groups? Broad analytic polls? Historical precedents? National Democrats and their media work closely, and if the Democrats had some serious research work product showing that “Trump’s Crazy” has real vote-getting potential, it likely would have been trotted out in the media and spun to maximum effect. And when could it have been done, and where would the money have come from? The DNC’s fundraising has been disastrous every month since the election. Not only doesn’t the DNC have the money to do necessary research, that there has been no report of such research is itself telling because solid research evidencing Trump/GOP weakness on this point would be catnip to desperately-needed Democratic donors. In other words, if the DNC had solid research, they would have flaunted it to their donors and the media would have reported it. Amazingly, available evidence strongly duggests that Democrats and their media have launched and maintained this hugely volatile “Trump’s Crazy” meme without much basis. What could go wrong?

      Instead the mainstream media extrude soft soap like this:

      “Slightly more than half of American voters say President Trump is intelligent, but 69 percent say he is not level-headed and 57 percent believe he is unfit for the White House, according to a poll released Wednesday.

      “The 53-44 percent rating of the president’s intelligence is the lowest since his inauguration last January, when it stood at 65-32 percent, a Quinnipiac University poll showed.

      “Broken down by party lines, 91 percent of Republicans believe he’s smart but only 27 percent of Democrats think so and 71 percent believe he isn’t, the survey shows.”

      That Quinnipiac Poll on the surface and to some extent points in the direction the Dems and their media would like. But it really goes nowhere. Similar polling results were found all through 2016 and their main effect was to distract Democrats from their looming disaster in November.

  • Nancy Morris

    Dr. Lee continues to indulge herself recklessly at the expense of Yale’s interests and her professional ethics. Lawmakers will gather for dinner Wednesday night at the Washington home of Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, in a “salon-like” setting to hear from Dr. Lee regarding her beliefs that Mr. Trump is “dangerous” and requires a mental-capacity exam. In other words, the embolism on Yale’s aorta that is Dr. Bandy Lee is getting bigger.

    Yale is unwise to allow her to traffick in its reputation in clear violation of ethical rules. She really should have to choose between continued affiliation with Yale and her increasingly unethical and damaging behavior. Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, called Lee’s antics “political partisanship disguised as patriotism.” The APA itself has specifically rejected Lee’s reasoning at several levels: contrary to her insistences, she is violating professional prohibitions on diagnosing those she has not even met as well as the longstanding APA Goldwater Rule, which is intended to directly prohibit exactly what she is doing. The APA has also rejected her ersatz “emergency” and “duty to warn” canards.

    There is an emergency here, but not the one Dr. Lee imagines. She is grossly unethical, and there is a clear and present need for an emergency meeting of this unethical doctor and Yale medical school administrators where it is explained to Dr Lee that she can either withdraw that book and otherwise cease and desist in these shenanigans or disassociate from Yale immediately. It’s not a close question. It is no more appropriate for Yale medical school to continue its association with someone as utterly defiant of professional ethics as is Dr. Lee than it would be for the school to maintain on its professional staff someone like Dr. Sergio Canavero, who performs human head transplants, if he were defiantly preparing to perform one on a living patient.

    DeLauro spokesman Will Serio confirmed the planned dinner meeting but couldn’t say how many lawmakers are expected to attend.

    • cardcounter

      Better be careful Nancy. Dr. Lee may call for you to be confined for an examination for having the audacity to publicly state a critical opinion about her.

      Dr. Lee is out of touch with reality. Her extreme hatred and intolerance for any viewpoint contrary to her own has deluded her into a world of fantasy.

      • Nancy Morris

        No one’s life, liberty, property, sanity or high elective office is secure while psychiatrists unbound from ethical constraints are in session.

        More seriously, while Lee is engaging in speech and expression here, it is not correct to treat what she is doing as covered by rights of academic free speech. She is clearly violating important professional ethical rules, and her using speech to do it shouldn’t insulate her.

        Look, suppose Lee’s book was full of information about an actual patient that the APA had squarely indicated was not covered by any exception to their confidentiality rules. Would Yale just say she was protected by her free speech rights and keep her on staff? Of course not. Lee’s agreement with Yale surely requires her to abide by her professional ethics code, a obligation she is clearly violating. This is not a free speech matter.

        That being said, it would likely cause a real mess with the faculty to discipline or fire Lee. I understand Yale’s position: No school can operate with its faculty in an uproar. But the APA has no such constraint.

        Dr. Lee was a guest on ‘Midday Live with Dr. Drew and Mike Catherwood’ on TalkRadio 790 KABC. Emily Barsh, KABC News

        “On his radio show … Dr. Pinsky offered short psychological profiles of former Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, well known for violent rhetoric and temperamental bluster, and Abraham Lincoln, who is believed to have suffered from clinical depression.

        “Based on the psychological sketches provided, Dr. Lee said these former Presidents, both of whom are included on Mt. Rushmore as among the nation’s greatest, would be ‘concerning’ to her…..

        “She says her comments have been misreported, without offering specifics.

        “In Monday’s interview, Dr. Lee insisted she was not attempting to diagnose President Trump’s mental health … This would seem to contradict her December statements that ‘Mr. Trump is showing signs of impairment that the average person could not see,’ that ‘he is becoming very unstable very quickly.’ …

        “Pinsky questioned Lee about what specific criteria she would apply in order to determine fitness or unfitness for duty. Lee said it can come from ‘many different sources: it could be mental illness, it could be a medical condition… it could be psychiatric, or it could be…a social pathology — that is proneness to violence.’

        “Pinsky asked, ‘So, it would be accurate to say that anybody prone to aggression or violence should not be in office…regardless of the will of the people?’

        “Lee responded that was indeed a criterion for most jobs, but did not address the second point — which Pinsky pressed her on, ‘So the will of the people, the Constitution should take second priority to these established criteria that you’re trying to make?’

        “Lee insists such screening is necessary, but while she was vague about how she would go about determining fitness-for-president, she and Dr. Pinsky agreed that that having a major mental health issue should not necessarily preclude candidates from holding office, and in fact some psychological issues can even contribute to the success of a Presidency.”

        A link to the full interview is in another post.

        It shouldn’t be long before Lee is leading excited leftist crowds demanding Trump’s civil commitment in chants of “Lock him up! Lock him up!” Duty to warn, of course.

        I don’t mean to diagnose anyone from a distance, but doesn’t Lee seem to be more than a bit emotionally ill in all this? Her summary rejection of the APA’s interpretation of its own ethical rules, and her belief that she is entitled to undo the presidential election with a wave of her DSM-5, clearly indicates her severe delusions of grandeur. She also seems to be a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder. Could there be a duty to warn about Lee’s instability?

    • ShadrachSmith

      “We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media,” the group wrote. “Arm-chair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.”

      Ouch.

      • Nancy Morris

        Bravo, Shadrach! Good find!

        • ShadrachSmith

          …you said it first.

  • Efren Vargas

    The Board of Medicine, needs to dicipline this charlatan. No patient can be diagnosed without proper History and Physical Exam. She also needs removal from academic position for wrong teaching to Residents. I am a Physician, our President can sue her for unprofessional behavior, and braking the Hipocratic Oath, harming the reputation of whom is not her patient, just political defamation.

    • wonder_woman

      “The Board of Medicine”. Did you mean the CT State Medical Board? Something tells me you’re not really a physician.

      • Efren Vargas

        Efren Vargas, MD. TN 28725 and MD 46805. Je suis Doctor. Je parley franceis. Io, sonno, Doctore.. Io. parlo italiano. Yo soy medico. Yo hablo espanol. I am Medical Doctor. I speak English.

        • wonder_woman

          My apologies. I’ve become very skeptical as there are so many trolls on these threads.

  • DrEmka

    She did not officially diagnose him but emitted an opinion. That it might have served her interests, like selling a book, is one thing. But accusing her of being unethical is another. She can perfectly, based on Trump’ behavior, express her concerns. No need to sit with him. It seems like there are many trumps supporters in disguise here.

    • cardcounter

      DrEmka, you are being so disingenuous. You are playing semantics. You can say any diagnosis by a psychiatrist is an “opinion” so therefore psychiatrists can not be held accountable for anything. I call BS.

    • Nancy Morris

      Actually, the APA has specifically debunked her “opinion v diagnosis” canard:

      “We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined … the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.”

      The APA specifically says that what Lee is doing constitutes “the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.” How much more clarity do you need? And if you think the APA is making such statements because there “are many trumps supporters in disguise” in the APA, you need to consult a psychiatrist. Seriously. Your insinuation that anyone other than a “trumps supporter” should endorse the gutting of APA ethical rules is far more of a condemnation of Lee’s supporters and Trump’s critics than you seem to understand.

  • wonder_woman

    Apparently none of you even bothered to read the article – Dr. Lee was NOT diagnosing Trump (although someone should):

    ‘On Dec. 5 and 6, Lee met with more than a dozen congressmen, including one Republican senator, Politico reported. In her presentation, Lee relied on the assessments of 27 mental health professionals, compiled in the book she edited, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” Though she could not diagnose Trump without a formal evaluation, she said, Trump’s recent behavior shows that he may be a danger to the American public.’

    • Peter

      Meaningless semantics. She issued an expert, professional opinion that the man is dangerous.

    • Papa Blue Stars

      A distinction without a difference. It’s her version of Slick Willie’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

    • Mary Ann

      Actually, YOU seem not to have read the YDN articles or the other comments here. The YDN articles make clear that APA rules do not just prohibit remote diagnosis, but prohibit expressing public opinions about those one has not examined. Various comments here expand on that point. Lee is in gross breach of the APA Goldwater Rule.

      What Lee is doing also DOES constitute “diagnosis,” but it isn’t necessary to answer that question to know she is acting unethically.

  • kal

    Just reported that she has no license of any kind.

    • Mary Ann

      That’s not correct. She has no licence to practice in Connecticut. She is reported to have a New York medical license.

  • Fancy Norris

    Wow this is all so unfortunate. Dr Lee should not be expressing opinions without checking first with the people in charge.

    • Nancy Morris

      O? What makes you think she didn’t?

    • Mary Ann

      I don’t know who you mean by “the people in charge,” and I suspect you don’t either. But Dr. Lee has certainly been apprised by the people in charge of the APA and the Yale psychiatry practice, as well as other psychiatrists, that what she is doing is highly unethical on several counts, seriously damaging her profession, and harming mentally ill people everywhere, all as explained in YDN articles.

      Did you bother to read them?

  • fairguy

    Funny that bandy lee target only Donald trump while the US Congress and high ranking offices are full of criminal and psychopaths. In 2017, bandy lee went full effort to organize a conference on the mental health of President Donald Trump at Yale and was the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book of essays that has contributed to the debate about Trump’s mental stability. I believe she has a vendetta against trump or took a bribe to pursue this endeavor. Korean doctor and scientists are known to cheat, falsify data, reports, experiment for personal gain. Go google how many Korean professionals and students caught cheating. 20% of Korean women have cosmetic surgery done. This society is grounded on cheating for personal gain.