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April 22, 2010


Hanlan's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Occam's Razor: "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" and the conclusion thereof, that the simplest solution is usually the correct one.

These two principles indite Krauthammer's foolish support of some theory involving Obama's "sentimental reflexes"*. It's more likely that being inexperienced in foreign diplomacy, Obama simply behaved stupidly.

*I would like to ask Dr. K just where these "sentimental reflexes" are situated. Have they been identified somewhere in the cerebellum?

Brendan's attack is bogus. Krauthammer's comment merely indicates his tentative sympathy with a Brit's speculation that Obama, because of his upbringing, may lack "sentimental reflexes" of attachment to Great Britain.

Krauthammer's point is innocuous, and does not rise anywhere near the clinical psychoanalytical pronouncement that Brendan is attempting to hype it into.

To compare Krauthammer's speculation about Obama's sentiments toward England to someone's "attempting to diagnose Dick Cheney with dementia" is ridiculous.


Hello Brendan,

How would you judge the mental state of an intelligent, well-informed man who asserted that "'the most interesting' theory as to why the president is 'suppressing' the Sept. 11 report is that Bush knew about Sept. 11 in advance" ?

If you speculated about the mental state of the man making the assertion, would you be engaging in "hack psychiatry"? How crazy does the assertion need to be before you allow such speculation?

On the other end of the spectrum, is any mental state speculation, no matter how bland and general, permitted without your labeling the speculator a hack psychiatrist?

If you call Krauthammer out for concurring with someone's speculation about Obama's sentiments toward England, will you condemn the doctor if he observed that, in some future instance, Obama seemed, say, happy?

Krauthammer's grasp of foreign policy issues and his examples (that somehow illustrate "carelessness") seem pretty superficial. His column is like the old sit-com Seinfeld; its "about nothing".

Krauthammer's medical license is active (in D.C).

Principles of Medical Ethics, with annotations applicable to psychiatry:

Section 7: Item 3 addresses your question. It is not ethical to render a psychiatric opinion regarding a specific individual who has not been personally examined by the psychiatrist.

To me, Krauthammer's grasp of foreign policy issues, and most other issues, is unexcelled anywhere.

The clear-headedness of his writing is so persuasive and difficult to counter that it drives leftwingers like Brendan crazy, reducing them to spitting lame ad hominems.

One day one of them will stoop to calling the brilliant Dr Krauthammer a "hack psychologist" or something like that.

Sorry, I mean, "hack psychiatrist".

I always get those two mixed up.

Hello Dr X.

I followed your link, which was interesting. The section you indicated says, "...it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination...".

To assert that Krauthammer offered a professional psychiatric opinion about Obama within Krauthammer's once-removed and equivocal "sentimental reflexes" comment requires the asserter to crave desperately a way, no matter how absurd, to attack Krauthammer.

A superfluous question: What constitutes an "examination", in the meaning your linked resource intends?

@ Fred A. Milton:

What constitutes an "examination", in the meaning your linked resource intends?"

It means meeting with the patient and conducting a formal diagnostic interview with the patient's consent. And as that paragraph also indicates, the psychiatrist must also have proper authorization to make a statement about the findings to anyone other than the patient.

That said, I wouldn't consider a comment about "sentimental reflexes" to be a psychiatric opinion. I don't think Krauthammer needs to worry.

Thanks, Dr X.

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