Leave Medical Comments Out Of Politics


Many years ago, Paul J. Fink, M.D. was head of the American Psychiatric association, and made a remark in a speech which I have never forgotten, although I can’t find the text of the original speech.

He said something to the effect that prostitution and psychiatry had the same problem — the amateurs think they are as good as the professionals.

I can’t give any kind of a reasonable assessment of how this would apply to professional prostitutes.  It seems to me as if there is a tremendous amount of information available to anyone who seeks it with assiduity.  Besides, I am unaware of structured training, university degrees, or licensure or any kind of proof of skill for professional prostitutes.

As for psychiatrists, I am constantly amazed by how many people are unaware of what we really do.  Misinformation abounds in the media, films especially.

From Michael Caine in “Dressed to Kill” (Without giving away the ending, let’s just say I am neither criminal nor “crazy” — a word I never use clinically)

To Barbra Streisand in “Prince of Tides,” Aside from being female and Jewish — let’s just say I do not believe an affair with a first degree relative of the patient is required for healing — they could not be less like me.

Other media do not give psychiatry proper respect either.

Some people do not understand the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist and ask me if I am like Bob Newhart was on his television show.

I was on the radio myself for a while.  Most notably, I was on during the Oklahoma City bombing, in Oklahoma City, trying to comfort a shaken populace.  Another “radio personality,” who was in the studio with me, actually said people should just talk to their bartender because they didn’t need all that psycho-babble.


I am a medical doctor with multi-specialty experience including orthopedic surgery and brain surgery — and this did not sit particularly well with me.

But I’m not complaining (and I don’t have a bartender) — I am just trying to establish context.

I mean, I am actually planning some public talks to explain what a psychiatrist is and does – because the only thing most people know is either from comedy routines or misguided conspiracy theories.

I am not an “analyst,” who encourages people to come several times a week and lie on a couch (never owned one for my office proper) and ask about how it felt to be “breast-fed.”

One of the things I do – often — is evaluate folks with head injuries.  After a fellowship in neurology and a residency in neurological surgery, I feel that I might be more qualified to do this than – say —

Karl Rove

Yes.  Mr. Rove — an obviously amateur psychiatrist — was offering his expert opinion (as a Fox News commentator) about Mrs. Clinton’s alleged “brain damage.”

(Media note: The NY Post and Fox News are both owned by Rupert Murdoch.  Non-Murdoch media seldom reports some of the more sensational and biased stories mentioned in these “news” organs.)

I hit the ceiling, enough to threaten my vigorously apolitical stance on life in the universe.

Rove is quoted as saying she was “wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury.”

Although only the basics of optics are covered in any medical school, I am reasonably sure no such glasses exist.

As a matter of fact, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I looked them up online, and found essentially nothing — except references to Karl Rove’s remarks.

I did find a good page on vision with traumatic brain injury that is accessible to the layperson. There have been many reactions to this latest declaration by Karl Rove, the first wave of which are generally summarized in this piece from “The Huffington Post.”

There have been general rants on pages such as the aptly titled “crooks and liars.”

Here, Karl Rove apparently has attempt to deny that he said what he said — never a good move for people who make speeches in public or the media.

HEADLINE: Rove on Hillary Clinton: ‘Of course she doesn’t have brain damage.’ The Huffington Post actually re-posted their report from 2012 when the apparently mild head injury happened.

Me, I certainly have no doctor/patient relationship with Mrs. Clinton, but from this and any or all circumstantial evidence I can find in any reports, simply sounds very unlikely to be serious enough to compromise the ability of this woman to hold public office.

If anyone seems compromised from this story, it seems to be Karl Rove.

It is and was totally inappropriate for this man to discuss the presence or absence of “brain damage” in a possible presidential candidate from the opposing camp.

I am especially angry because in an era when many precepts of mainstream medicine are under fire, this man should not be weighing in on a tough subject which he is wholly unqualified to discuss.

This is political mudslinging at its lowest and most despicable level.

I am not saying anything about the merits, or lack of them, on either political “side.”  I am simply talking about an individual who has exhibited irresponsible opinions in public.

The American system of politics has been alarmingly oversimplified.  America has plenty of troubles, and there are plenty of possible ways to solve them.  I have long had trouble with the two-party system.  Not that it isn’t better than having one party — for it is.  But I am concerned that despite many other attempts to start and grow political parties, we have only two that seem to powerful enough to provide “serious” presidential candidates, and that this man is considered to be a key spokesperson for one of them.

Make the political decision you believe in, but it is much better to do it without information that has been provided by Karl Rove.

I love to go back to the Founding fathers, whose wisdom continues to blow me away.

Thomas Jefferson seems to have believed that only the intelligence of the American populace could keep wild or radical or marginal factions from becoming powerful.

The kind of irresponsible comments and wholesale lying expressed by Karl Rove go way beyond impersonating a(n) (admittedly amateurish) psychiatrist.

This is no marginal faction.  This man is a powerful representative of one party in our two party system.

We are forced to depend on the intelligence of the American populace.

Please don’t let me down.

Choose he candidate you believe in.

At the very least, do not eliminate Hillary Clinton because of Karl Rove’s remarks.


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