Monday, 30 December 2013

The Goldwater Rule

It's not something discussed on forums or news media discussion tables....but there's a curious piece of American history going back to 1964....which relates to the "Goldwater Rule".

In the heat of the election race in 1964, between Senator Goldwater, and President Johnson.....Fact Magazine comes out with a piece, which asks the question of leadership stability over Senator Goldwater. A large number of mental health professionals were asked about character and mental state of Goldwater.  Some used "normal" as their choice of words.....a fair number of others used narcissistic, schizophrenic, obsessive, and psychotic.

Roughly, one thousand medical degree psychological doctors came to this state of diagnosing a guy running for President....simply by reading newspapers, and watching a few bits and pieces of TV news reporting.

Fact Magazine?  It was a monthly magazine that came out for roughly four years....ending in 1967.  No one really says much over its demise, but you get the impression that they weren't making tons of money toward the end.  The editors had a political slant on things.....mostly liberal, but not the kind of stuff that a regular nine-to-five guy, a union guy, or some truck-driver would read....more so....the stuff that college kids or some intellectual would pick up for an hour of reading.

When you go back and examine the 1964 race....there's a dozen-odd things that went wrong with the Goldwater election chances.  This was one of them.  Some media folks quoted the magazine in their analysis, and regular voters got around to believing that Goldwater was a "nut".

After the election....Goldwater sued the magazine.  He won the case, but cleared only $75,000 for damages to his character.

After the episode....the mental health profession met up and within a year or two....had decided that they couldn't run around and declare folks "nuts", unless they had personally examined the guy or gal (in person).  This was written up into a code of ethics so that medical professionals would not be tempted to break rules easily.

So today, it's ok for some journalist, some new media freak, some politician, or governor from New Jersey to point at someone and say they are crazy.  If you are a mental health professional....you can't really say much, or you have to slant it in a way that it's not about the guy but some behaviors that would need to be examined.

It's the Goldwater Rule.....in purest form.

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