Yale University

In the wake of denunciation from fellow psychiatrists and death threats from supporters of President Donald Trump, Bandy Lee MED ’94 DIV ’95 met with lawmakers again last week to discuss the president’s mental stability, despite colleagues’ claims that she is breaking psychiatric ethical code.

Lee made national headlines in January after she briefed congressmen on Trump’s mental state, arguing that the president is a danger to society. Last Wednesday, Lee met with around 45 Democrats at the Washington, D.C. home of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, marking her second such gathering with lawmakers. Since the news broke of the meeting, Lee told the News, she has received death threats at a level that makes her fear “mob violence.” According to Lee, the offices of DeLauro and U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD were flooded with threats, leading to the cancellation of a scheduled town hall with Raskin.

Last March, the American Psychiatric Association expanded the Goldwater Rule — an APA guideline that states that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to make a public statement about someone’s mental state without the individual’s consent or an in-person consultation — from just making a diagnosis to offering any psychiatric opinion about a person. But Lee argued that she is not breaking the rule because she is not formally diagnosing the president. She also suggested the APA might have expanded the rule to protect mental health professionals from the ire of Trump supporters.

“The question then arises, did the American Psychiatric Association expand the Goldwater rule to turn it into an unprecedented gag rule as it has, two months into this administration, in order to protect the safety of professionals?” she said. “To this I would answer, the longer we wait, the more dangerous it will become.”

In Lee’s view, mental health professionals have been reluctant to speak up so as not to provoke the president or his supporters. Additionally, Lee questioned whether Republican lawmakers are unable to speak up because they fear their own constituents, saying one Republican lawmaker canceled a scheduled meeting shortly before her arrival in the wake of extensive media coverage.

Lee, who first met with around a dozen congressmen on Dec. 5 and 6, is the editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” — a New York Times bestselling book that describes the president’s alleged mental disorders based on assessments from 27 psychiatrists and psychologists. She is a faculty member at the Yale School of Medicine’s Law and Psychiatry Division and specializes in global health and violence.

The news of her meeting, first reported by Politico, arrived just as lingering questions about Trump’s mental state resurfaced following a series of tweets by the President gloating about the size of his nuclear button. But in the following days, the APA reiterated its commitment to the Goldwater Rule, calling on its members to end their “armchair” psychiatry. In a Jan. 9 statement, the APA stressed that if the physician conducting Trump’s physical examination found signs of mental unfitness, he or she would act accordingly.

On Friday, White House physicians said Trump was in “excellent health” after administering a physical examination, the president’s first since he took office.

“Using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively impacts our profession,” the APA statement read.

But Lee has consistently argued that she has a duty to warn, which is greater than her obligation for political neutrality as a psychiatrist. She told the News she is not normally political but that by speaking out, she has the potential to prevent violence and the “potential extinction of our species.”

In a public statement, the Executive Committee of the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine reaffirmed the school’s commitment to refrain from issuing statements about the mental and emotional state of public officials. The statement further emphasized that Lee’s statements were not representative of the department, School of Medicine or the University.

“The Department affirms the importance of the ethical standard of conducting an examination of an individual and obtaining proper authorization before publicly stating a professional opinion about that individual,” the statement read.

Allen Frances, former chairman and professor emeritus of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University said that although Lee seemed to be a “well-meaning, patriotic person,” Yale’s psychiatry department was right to disown Lee’s “inappropriate” behavior.

According to Frances, Lee’s argument that her “duty to warn” preempts all other ethical responsibilities is not a legitimate reason for violating the Goldwater Rule, since the dangers posed by Trump are apparent to “everyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to feel.” But Frances said the “amateur” psychiatric diagnoses made in Lee’s book, which Frances labeled “psychobabble,” are severely stigmatizing to mentally ill people, confusing Trump’s bad behavior with their psychiatric suffering.

“Mentally ill people are almost universally well-meaning, well-behaved, and decent, and Trump is none of these,” Frances said. “Everyone should do everything they can to call Trump out as a dangerous figure, but I don’t think that should be done on the backs of the mentally ill.”

Age 70 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

    It is also worth noting that Dr. Lee is not licensed to practice medicine in Connecticut, despite being on the faculty of the Yale Medical School, although she does have a New York license. The website Snopes states that Lee told them this:

    “I had been maintaining all three [state medical licenses], but it got to be a lot of work, so I decided for the consultation work I do that I don’t need a licensee in every state I consult in. I held New York, Connecticut and California for many years, but the Connecticut one I just let go of because in terms of maintenance you have to renew every year and it got cumbersome. In California you have to constantly update [Continued Medical Education]. I kept the New York license because it’s the easiest to maintain.“

    I do not pretend to be an expert in medical licensing law, but it seems fairly clear that one cannot practice medicine in Connecticut without a Connecticut medical license. It appears that Dr. Lee’s practice is largely “consultative,” presumably meaning she works with and advises other doctors who are licensed where they practice, and those doctors provide the patient care if the patient is not in New York. But it is curious that Dr. Lee apparently cannot legally provide psychiatric medical care to patients in Connecticut. Does she really not provide psychiatric medical care to patients in New Haven? Never? Is she really never on call at Yale-New Haven Hospital? Never? Not even occassionally when disturbed and violent people show up – or are brought in by the NHPD – in the emergency room, not even to hand a few Haldol tablets and a glass of water to someone in the throes of a psychotic break? Has the YNHH Corporation been asked about that?

    Of course it goes without saying that she is in clear and willful breach of more than one APA ethical rule, including the APA prohibition on remote diagnosis and the Goldwater Rule. Her arguments are entirely specious, as the APA and Dr. Frances point out. Indeed, I am not aware of any serious authority on APA rules and procedures who agrees with Dr. Lee. If the APA possesses disciplinary power over its unethical members, it should begin proceedings to sanction Dr. Lee. In addition, New York State medical authorities should consider lifting her last remaining license for her continuing pattern of seriously unethical behavior.

    “Using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively impacts our profession,” the APA statement read, apparently directly referring to Dr Lee. And “the ‘amateur’ psychiatric diagnoses made in Lee’s book, which Frances labeled ‘psychobabble,’ are severely stigmatizing to mentally ill people.” This is someone Yale Medical School wants on its staff?

    • CC

      Given the increasingly nuttiness of the Yale Administration towards just about any issue – I wouldn’t be surprised that they know fully well she’s unlicensed……perhaps she’s filling a diversity quota??? No matter, Bandy Lee comes across as unhinges herself….stay tuned,…one gets the feeling that her full story hasn’t been revealed…

      • Nancy Morris

        Remember, she is licensed in NY. There are stories claiming she has NO license, but rhat’s Not right. If she only consults and teaches in Connecticut, but doesn’t practice medicine there, she’s fine. Weird, since she’s on the Yale faculty. But technically fine. But how likely is that, practically?

        The Yale administration has a lot to contend with, and so does YNHHC, but I don’t think they would let her get away with unlicensed practice of medicine on their premises if they really knew about it. They have a lot at stake. Of course, I don’t know.

        • Maximus300

          She is attempting to diagnose from CT without going through another doctor. I call that malpractice in addition to unethical. Further, she has not performed any procedures or tests to come to any conclusion, which invalidates her credibility as a doctor. She is nothing but an attention seeker who has a liberal agenda and thinks she can participate in the Trump lynch mob.

          • Nancy Morris

            I agree with all that, and with the characterization of what she produces as “psychobabble,” as noted in this article. She is doing a lot of damage to her profession, as the APA and her Yale colleagues have pointed out.

            I am narrowly pointing that she does have a medical license to practice in NY.

            If she did diagnose and treat one of her actual patients to whom she provides medical care in NY using the same remote procedures she is employing with Trump, she would be in clear violation of the APA rule against remote diagnosis and I would not be at all surprised if that would count as actionable malpractice under NY law (although I am not an expert).

            If she only consults and teaches in Connecticut, I don’t think she is practicing medicine there. But how likely is that, especially given her farcical, self-serving construction of applicable rules and standards of treatment?

        • ldffly

          “The Yale administration has a lot to contend with, and so does YNHHC,
          but I don’t think they would let her get away with unlicensed practice
          of medicine on their premises if they really knew about it. They have a
          lot at stake.”

          I am nearly always in agreement with you. However, your persistent sympathies for the Yale administration usually startle me. The above quote is one example. Given what I’ve seen under Salovey, and going back even to the early days of Dick Levin, I would not be so sure about things. Bandy Lee and the administration seem to be dancing cheek to cheek on the matter of anti Trumpian politics. Maybe a better description is that she is an ideological sister of many in Woodbridge. I suspect that consideration will hold sway, if and when the administration learns about any possible unlicensed practice in CT. If she has practiced without a license in CT, Woodbridge might just find that insufficient for removing her from the faculty. Let’s see.

          • Nancy Morris

            Many reasonable people are skeptical of the Yale administration. But remember that if Lee is in fact practicing medicine in Connecticut, it would likely be through Yale New Haven Hospital, which is owned and managed by the Yale New Haven Hospital Corporation, not Yale. YNHHC has an awful lot at stake if Lee or any of the hospital staff is practicing medicine with no licence in Connecticut.

            Yale medical school does staff YNHH, and it would be hugrly embarrassing and worse for the medical school to be found to have allowed its faculty to practice without a license. If Lee is doing that, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with her unethical political adventure. Also, it’s clear from several sources that the other Yale psychiatric staff detest what Lee is up to.

            I do regard Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Princeton as far better and more honestly managed than Harvard, which has in recent years really done itself major damage. And I may give them more benefit of the doubt in some cases. But I don’t think that’s at work in the Lee case, at least respecting her possible practice of medicine in Connecticut.

  • JCvPnew

    The APA’s position is like condemning a navigator on the Titanic for warning about the iceberg because he has not personally visited the iceberg. Dr. Lee is warning us about an existential danger to civilization; surely that trumps (!) the Goldwater Rule. It is time for every candidate for national office to be evaluated for mental fitness, including fMRI scans, which can spot possible psychopaths–to keep them from power over many. In this case we are talking about the fitness of a man who has power over billions.

    • Maximus300

      The APA’s position is based on the notion that you cannot render a diagnosis without actually performing standard tests and procedures, none of which Bandy has done. It is called ethics, none of which you apparently have.

    • RMarvel

      I agree, and we need exhaustive exams that must be passed by every federal candidate for higher office. Something similar to the BAR exam for lawyers. This would weed out the entire sitting Democrat caucus, and half the GOP.

  • HaroldAMaio

    —-“Using psychiatry for political or self-aggrandizing
    purposes is stigmatizing for our patients and negatively
    impacts our profession,” the APA statement read.

    Whenever a psychiatrist employs the term “stigma” (instead
    of prejudice, discrimination, and ignorance) its ethics are in question.
    Psychiatry can educate people who deploy that prejudice, it ought never
    originate from them, and far too often does.

    —-“Mentally ill people are almost universally well-meaning,
    well-behaved, and decent, and Trump is none of these,” Frances said
    (???)

    We are a broad and diverse demographic, such statements
    portraying us as a “generic” do nothing to inform and much to disinform.
    Frances’ statement has been widely repeated showing just how gullible we
    are. We are no more “universally well-meaning and well-behaved”
    than any other demographic.

    Nor for that matter are psychiatrists

  • NSF

    Thank you, Daily News for this article. I have read Dr. Lee’s book and it is clearly not “psychobabble”. It serves to validate what a great many American people are thinking and feeling re the current POTUS. I am proud that Yale has faculty who are not afraid to speak the truth and uphold the duties of their profession including a duty to warn.

    • Maximus300

      You are proud of an unlicensed person making a diagnosis without actually doing an in-person exam? I am sure you would appreciate an unlicensed person doing the same to you questioning your fitness to remain outside an institution.

  • Lisa L8on

    It is a public hazard to NOT warn us, the public, and I both admire and support Ms Lee’s decision to state publicly what we all know. Her courageous action, may embolden others of ethical demeanor, to come forward, despite the bullies who KNOW they have a lot to hide.

    • Maximus300

      Speak for yourself. I am part of the “public” and I disagree with you and Bandy.

  • Lisa L8on

    I mean, really? His “medical report”? Which was a fraud? They didn’t even make the effort to spell the Doctors name correctly, or list his rank? We are supposed to naively believe that he is in “excellent” health? a fast food fry cheeseburger and KFC eating pig? That lays in bed screaming at the TV? Is in excellent health? Can you say that with a straight face? Maybe he is in excellent health compared to a corpse?

    • Maximus300

      You obviously drank the MSM koolaid if you really believe everything you wrote. I will believe the good doctor since he actually oversaw the exam as opposed to Bandy who obviously takes her talking points from the same sources you do.

  • Lisa L8on

    Further, clearly Francis has not lived with many mentally ill people, who are violent and abusive. To sugarcoat mental illness, and pretend that the mentally ill are all nice pets, everyone should own one, and that Ms Lee published psychobabble does a REAL INJUSTICE TO ALL THE ABUSED CHILDREN, and women (mostly) who have born the brunt of violent, abusive mentally ill people. Francis is pandering to the hateful right wing, and denigrating the real truth, the bravery of Ms Lee. She should get laurels and an ode to her bravery, not a pandering simpering whining condemnation. Francis is an unmitigated coward.

  • CC

    Bandy Lee seems to be mentally unstable herself if she can’t abide by the Psychiatric Society’s codes….she seems to be seeking publicity for herself – but she’s only coming across as a nutcase.

  • Young Doctor Yung

    I’m not a “psychiatrist” but I did spend a night or more at Yale, at one point I believe, last millennium…….
    The fact is that our President is doing “exceedingly well”.
    Bandy that.

  • Wm D Hunt

    Dr Lee has a right to express her thoughts like everyone else in America. To threaten her or anyone because of their opinion with physical harm is simply rampant fascism and bigoted stupidity. I appreciate and laud her courage and integrity.

    • Maximus300

      Sure she has a right to express her personal opinion. However, she does not have a right to express a professional opinion since she is currently unlicensed to practice. Democrats and MSM are holding her up as an “expert” and she is clearly seeking her “15 minutes” of fame by grandstanding with democrats. Also, everyone on this comments section has a right to express their opinion of Bandy Lee. I hope you will support Republicans and other Trump supporters who peacefully demonstrate and are then physically attacked by ANTIFA, BLOC and other liberal malcontent members.

  • DrMitoFit

    The White House physician (same doctor assigned to Obama) who sees the president on a daily basis has never detected any cognitive defect in the president. During Trump’s physical exam the doctor tested Trump with a standard cognitive test and he scored a perfect 30 out of 30. The highly unethical armchair psychiatrist Bandy Lee has been totally discredited at this point. She must retract her statements and writings or else have her medical license revoked. Yale and the APA should be very embarrassed.

    • Kate Gallagher

      Not disagreeing with your major thrust but I don’t believe the WH doctor sees Trump “every day” or even often unless needed, and the test (mini-mental status exam, or MMSE) on which DT scored 30 out of 30 detects age-related cognitive decline & memory loss, NOT mental illness, personalty disorders, impulse control or judgement disorders, etc.

  • Nancy Morris

    Sally Satel, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

    “I wish Dr. Lee would stop making House calls. Her actions risk discrediting our profession. ….

    “Since neither Dr. Lee nor any of her contributors have treated Mr. Trump, the duty to warn does not apply here …

    “Under the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater rule,” it is unethical for a psychiatrist to comment on a public figure’s mental health without examining him and obtaining permission for the disclosure. But that doesn’t stop us from forming opinions. …

    “Many of my colleagues say privately they believe Mr. Trump probably has a narcissistic personality disorder. If so, he likely wouldn’t be the first. A 2013 study in Psychological Science ranked the 42 past presidents on measures of “grandiose narcissism” and found that Lyndon B. Johnson scored highest, followed closely by Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson…..

    “Importantly, Mr. Trump’s grandiosity, impulsivity and short attention span were already evident during the campaign and earlier; they are baseline features. Had his personality undergone rapid deterioration, there would be reason to suspect a disease process at work. If that process affected his ability to govern, the cabinet and Congress would likely ask psychiatrists and neurologists for a diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis in the course of invoking the 25th Amendment to deprive him of his powers temporarily. But ultimately that is a political process, not a medical one….

    “Whatever one thinks of Mr. Trump, his actions and words are on display for all to see. The public doesn’t need experts to interpret them.

    The actions of Dr. Lee and her colleagues politicize psychiatry, and in doing so squander the profession’s authority and goodwill.“

  • Maggie1212

    Allen Frances “MD” from Duke is the most ridiculous piece of s ever. He just ran an entire article on Medpage analyzing Trump himself, and now he comes out against this? Honestly, they should both lose their license.

    Here is what you do: When you read this psychobabble, go online to their Medical Board (Lee Connecticut, Frances North Carolina), download the form, and file a complaint. That will place their license under investigation.

  • FrederickLongSword

    Bandy Lee is unethical, undemocratic, and dishonest. She is the one who is dangerous to the US. She’s the type of person to lock a sane person away in a mental ward unfairly to get some kind of reward, kickback, or political purpose accomplished. I have no sympathy for her. She’s evil. Karma comes around.

  • Ed Naile

    Let’s see the results of the death threat accusations.
    The police must have been notified and reports filed.

  • kozanne

    I think you’re lying thru your teeth, “Doctor” Lee. You shot your credibility in the six when you tried to diagnose a patient without even seeing them.

    Prove there were threats. Because your word means absolutely nothing.

    P.S. Get that license renewal thingie fixed yet?

  • jacksprat47

    These comments, to the extent that they impugn Doctor lee’s outrageous and unethical behavior, are on the mark. However, they miss the thrust of her perfidious and unethical conduct: she should be summarily fired from her position at Yale. She is a discredit to this great University, and deserves to be free from the shackles of Yale to go to “The Swamp” to peddle her questionable, unethical and politically motivated opinions. Why is it that Yale faculty feel so blithely free to slur and defame America’s President, while seemingly are so reticent (perhaps mute is a better word!) when discussing the competence, or lack thereof, of Yale’s President?

  • http://itsaboutliberty.com/index.php ToddF

    Journalism. For the laziest on campus who didn’t even think to ask for one police report filed about a single “death threat.”

  • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

    “A danger to society.”

    Sounds like Margaret Sanger, certain actions leading up to and during WWII and Bosnia, as well as current practices in certain ISIS-controlled (and other orthodox) areas. Or maybe “Pre-Crime.” Or just plain hysteria (oops).

  • RMarvel

    The irony of a Professor from the campus of Screaming Girl complaining about dangerous mental illness. If the SJW movement on campus there gets any more unhinged, the entire campus will need to be walled off for theirsafety and ours.

  • marcedward

    I hate Trump too, but this person is 100% unprofessional and should not have a job that involves the mental health of others. Watering plants is more her speed.