New York Daily News
Reports of President Trump’s surprise visit to Walter Reed Medical Center for his annual medical exam on Nov. 16th, instead of February when it’s usually done, prompted me to wonder why the POTUS gets a complete check-up from the neck down, but not from the neck up.
Simply put, every sitting POTUS annually and every presidential candidate, regardless of their competence, should undergo a thorough exam of their brain function and mental fitness before they are elected as well as during their tenure in the highest office in the land.
Here’s why. From the moment President Trump assumed office, his unconventional style provoked questions about his motives and competence and calls for his removal. At the core of concerns about this POTUS was his competence, which has been repeatedly questioned on professional and psychological grounds. His repeated misstatements, bizarre ideas and erratic behavior, in addition to his diet and weight, have provoked continued questions about his physical and mental health.
As a psychiatrist, I have staunchly adhered to the “Goldwater Rule” — the name given to Section 7.3 of the American Psychiatric Association’s Code of Ethics, which proscribes psychiatrists from opining on public figures that they do not have direct knowledge of and authority to diagnose — and refrained from clinically commenting on Trump’s behavior with the authority of my medical credentials.
But while Congress has dithered over whether the best mechanism to remove President Trump from office was by elections, impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the most expedient means was already operative: the annual medical exam. All that is needed is to add measures of brain function and mental acuity to the usual physical exam, EKG, blood tests and radiologic body scans. These would include a brain MRI, neuro-cognitive tests of memory, attention, concentration, problem-solving, executive function and a mental status exam of thoughts, perception and emotion.