“Duty to Warn”: Why Mental Health Experts Want Trump Removed as President


Donald Trump. Deemed crazy by 4,000 doctors.


Some said Trump is senile. Indeed he is the oldest president to have ever assumed office.  Some said he is ignorant. Indeed he is the first president to have never held a public office prior to assuming the presidency.

Some said he was a narcissists; indeed he is the first president to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine or in a soft core porn film or on an audiotape confessing sexually assaulting women.

Others said he was a simple sociopath.

Indeed he is the first president to refuse to show his tax returns. Indeed, diagnoses abounded last weekend when hundreds of Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health practitioners of the Duty to Warn movement met in a dozen Town Hall meetings around the country including right here in New York at New York Law School to demand the removal of Donald Trump from office because of what they called his dangerous lack of mental capacity to serve as president.

Speaker after speaker at the New York Law School location cited Trump’s “clearly observable behaviors” and “dangerous statements” as evidence of his unfitness for office.

Speaker Dr. James Gilligan, of NYU Medical School and former Director of the Harvard Institute of Law and Psychiatry cited Trump’s calling for torture of people suspected of terrorism, his allusion to his “Second Amendment people” dealing with Hillary Clinton –during the campaign– and his calling for the destruction of North Korea with nuclear weapons as evidence of Trump’s dangerousness.

Other speakers such as Dr. Betty Teng, of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy cited Trump’s history of sexual assault and spoke of the traumatizing effect on victims of trauma. Dr. Teng, using old figures, said 12 women have accused Trump of sexual abuse. Actually that number is now up to 24 people who have accused Trump of abuse or inappropriate sexual behavior and statements.

At least 4,000 doctors are now part of Duty To Warn.

Dr. Gilligan said the name of their movement, Duty To Warn, derives from the Tarasoff case. In that case a man named Prosenjit Poddar revealed to his psychiatrist during therapy sessions that he planned to kill a woman named Tatiana Tarasoff with whom he had become enamored and who had rejected him.

When he actually did kill the woman, the courts ruled that psychiatrists and mental health professionals have a duty to protect and warn people they believe to be in imminent danger from their patient. The mental health professionals at the NYU Law School meeting not only met to fulfill that duty but after the meeting they marched through the streets of Lower Manhattan over 100-strong to City Hall to publicly make their statement.

Organizers say they believe the 25th Amendment of the Constitution provides a mechanism for removing the president that psychiatrists and psychologists can help initiate. This amendment was ratified in 1967 in the wake of John Kennedy’s 1963 assassination when the country experienced some moments when the United States was technically without leadership. The president had not yet been declared dead but was incapacitated. The Constitution of the U.S. at that point provided no mechanism for installing someone else as president while the president was alive.

The 25th amendment was drafted and allows the vice president and a majority of the cabinet or any other body voted upon by the Congress to make such a determination to declare the president incapacitated in order to allow the Vice President to assume the reins of power. Dr. Peter Fraenkel, of the City University of New York, urged support of HR 187 a bill put forward by Jaime Raskin a Congressman from Maryland which calls for the establishment of a commission to make this determination when necessary.

Some organizers admitted that they thought it was far-fetched that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, calling for Trump’s removal could actually get a Republican government and cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Nevertheless psychologist John Gartner has gotten 67,444 supporters to sign his petition calling essentially for just that. The petition is headlined “Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill And Must Be Removed.” Mental health professionals like Gartner say that they believe that no matter what, the effort will educate the public and make them more supportive of future efforts to remove Trump via, perhaps, the impeachment process.

If the president resists being removed by the 25th amendment he can declare himself able to function and be reinstated unless the vice president opposes him, in which case it will require a two-thirds majority of Congress to stop him from resuming office.

Impeachment only requires a majority of the House of Representatives for proceedings to be initiated. However, to make the impeachment stick requires 67 senators or greater than two-thirds of the Senate.

Well, 67,444 people now support Dr. Gartner’s petition to have Trump removed whichever mechanism is used. Health professionals have made a “Duty to Warn” that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president.

Recall that Trump’s own Secretary of State has called him a “moron.”


By James C. McIntosh, M.D.


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