Dear YDN,

 Thank you for the clear and complete article about Bandy Lee’s MED ’94 DIV ’95 lawsuit against Yale University for unlawful termination of employment and related torts. If the allegations in the complaint are proven to be accurate, then Yale should consider changing its motto from Lux et Veritas to Arbitrium et Levis (Arbitrary and Capricious).

The allegations directly connect in a short causal chain a letter to Yale from Mr. Alan Dershowitz LAW ’62, demanding that Ms. Lee be punished for her remarks about him to the contemporaneous unjustified termination of Ms. Lee by Yale. Note that this is the same Alan Dershowitz who recounts an incident from his prep school days thusly: “I was a rebellious student, often criticized by my teachers who told me to do something that requires a big mouth and no brain … so I became a lawyer.”

As the complaint notes, the serial excuses for her termination provided by Yale’s administration are inconsistent. They are also contrary to Yale’s written policy of protecting freedom of expression. To call the excuses “feeble” is an immense understatement.

I am surprised that Ms. Lee has not simultaneously sued Mr. Dershowitz for his tortious interference with her employment contract under applicable Connecticut state law. It’s clear that his conduct meets all the statutory requirements for this tort.

Perhaps Ms. Lee could also productively include in her complaint the following statement, proclamation and pledge made by the University’s president, Peter Salovey, back in 2015 — a pledge he has repeated over time:

“We begin this work [making Yale more inclusive and diverse] by laying to rest the claim that it conflicts with our commitment to free speech, which is unshakeable. The very purpose of our gathering together into a university community is to engage in teaching, learning, and research — to study and think together, sometimes to argue with and challenge one another, even at the risk of discord, but always to take care to preserve our ability to learn from one another.”

JAMES G. LUCE  (Yale ‘66) is a graduate of Silliman College. Contact him at altjaume@gmail.com.

 

 

Dear Yale Daily News,

In response to your article, “Former professor says Yale fired her over tweet on Trump, Dershowitz” (YDN March 23, 2021), the undersigned have written directly to Dr. Krystal to strongly object to the use of the Goldwater Rule to fire an academic professional. Our letter to Dr. Krystal is copied below. Thank you for your consideration.

Dear Dr. Krystal: 

We write to you concerned about the publicly available information about the firing of our colleague, Dr. Bandy Lee. Our specific concern is with the report that she was fired in part for purportedly violating the Goldwater Rule.  It is this connection to the Goldwater Rule that is deeply problematic.

Reliance on Dr. Lee’s violation of this rule would reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the evolution of psychiatric ethics since 1973, when that rule was established by the American Psychiatric Association and an abdication of the academy to set its own standards for conduct, rather than importing those of arguably self-serving professional guilds.

We rely on the report in the Yale Daily News (March 23, 2021) that quoted your letter terminating Dr. Lee as follows:

“Although the committee does not doubt that you are acting on the basis of your personal moral code,” the letter read, “your repeated violations of the APA’s Goldwater Rule and your inappropriate transfer of the duty to warn from the treatment setting to national politics raised significant doubts about your understanding of crucial ethical and legal principles in psychiatry.”

In the opinion of many prominent mental health professionals, the Goldwater Rule arose to protect the image of the psychiatric profession in the wake of its humiliation after the successful lawsuit initiated by Barry Goldwater against Fact magazine (Martin-Joy, J., Diagnosing from a Distance: Debates over Libel Law, Media, and Psychiatric Ethics from Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2020).

The validity of the Goldwater Rule has been widely disputed: many professionals consider it a scientifically untenable privileging of corporate psychiatry’s interests over individual psychiatrists’ rights of free speech and expressions of conscience (Lilienfeld, S., Miller, J., Lynam, D., The Goldwater Rule, Perspectives From, and Implications for, Psychological Science, Perspect Psychol Sci . 2018 Jan;13(1):3-27. doi: 10.1177/1745691617727864. Epub 2017 Oct 12; Post, J., Narcissism and Politics: Dreams of Glory, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015; Pouncey, C., President Trump’s Mental Health-Is It Morally Permissible for Psychiatrists to Comment?, New England Journal of Medicine 2018, 378 (5), pp. 405-407). 

Additionally, the APA’s 2017 restatement of the Goldwater Rule broadened its wording to proscribe apparently any discussion by psychiatrists and, by extension, other mental health professionals, not only of putative diagnoses but of the psychology and behavior of public figures.  This colonizing of scholarly discourse by the APA flies in the face of academic traditions of inquiry.

Given the spectrum of conscientiously held views of the Goldwater Rule and the thoughtful attempts to reform and update it (Begley, S. Psychiatrists Urge Rollback of Goldwater Rule, STAT News, 6/28/18), it would be highly improper to terminate Dr. Lee’s association based on this antiquated and widely disputed rule of a professional association of which she has not been a member for fourteen years.  

Further, Dr. Lee’s profound contributions to the field (Lee, B. editor. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump; St. Martin’s Press, 2017, p. 83-93) would have been impossible if she allowed herself to be gagged by the Goldwater Rule. Bearing in mind that the 37 contributors to this book which Dr. Lee edited include many scholars and international exemplars of psychiatric ethics, we wonder if they too would be terminated were they to be members of your department. 

Universities need to articulate their own criteria for judging appointments and reappointments, for quality of scholarship and for ethical conduct within and outside their walls.  They cannot do that in a way that is faithful to the academic mission if they appropriate standards developed by professional organizations that, with all their many worthy purposes, are nevertheless highly influenced by protection of their professions, not the academy, and which, as documented in the case of the APA, are compromised by commercial interests.  Using the APA Goldwater Rule as a basis for terminating Dr. Lee is an embarrassment to Yale and an affront to universities and academics everywhere.

We await your response acknowledging that compliance with the Goldwater Rule is not an appropriate basis for the termination of appointment of any academic professional.

Leonard L. Glass, M.D., M.P.H. 

Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Part-time) 

Harvard Medical School 

Senior Attending Psychiatrist 

McLean Hospital

Past-President, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute  

Distinguished Life Fellow 

American Psychiatric Association (resigned in protest 2017)

 

Edwin B. Fisher, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Health Behavior

Gillings School of Global Public Health

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Past-President, Society of Behavioral Medicine

 

Lance M. Dodes, M.D

Asst. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry (retired)

Harvard Medical School

Training and Supervising Analyst Emeritus

Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

Faculty, New Center for Psychoanalysis (Los Angeles)

 

Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus in psychology

Stanford University

Henry Friedman, M.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry (part-time)

Harvard Medical School

 

Steven Wruble, MD

Board Certified Child & Adult Psychiatry

Ridgewood, NJ & Manhattan, NY

 

John Gartner, Ph.D

Former assistant professor of psychiatry (part-time)

Johns Hopkins University Medical School

 

Michael J Tansey, PhD