Goldwater Rule

The “Goldwater Rule” is the informal name given to section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Principle of Medical Ethics.

It was established in response to an article in 1964 which polled psychiatrists about US Senator Barry Goldwater and whether he was fit to be president. The rule states:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists strongly supports the “Goldwater Rule” and adhering to it is important as part of maintaining confidence in the profession.