Rand Paul’s medical malpractice


The universal judgment that Jared Lee Loughner (we always give three names to our assassins, don’t we?) is a lunatic is simply a profound grasp of the obvious.

Anyone who would do what Loughner did on Saturday morning in Tucson clearly is unhinged. You don’t have to be a psychiatric professional to come to that conclusion.

But Rand Paul, the newly minted Republican senator from Kentucky, has falsely claimed for himself the cloak of professionalism in publicly offering his diagnosis of Loughner’s problem.

Paul, who was trained as an ophthalmologist, not a psychiatrist, DECLARED yesterday that he has read some of  Loughner’s writings  and that “from a medical point of view there’s a lot to suggest paranoid schizophrenia.”

Medical point of view? The senator has no more qualifications to offer a medical point of view on Loughner’s condition than you or I do.

Paul’s unwarranted offering of a “medical” diagnosis in this case might be negligible were it not for the fact that it echoes at least two other examples of conservatives misusing their professional credentials in matters of political interest.

In 2005, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a heart surgeon, delivered a lengthy floor speech in which he declared that Terri Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state, despite her own doctors’ claims to the contrary.

Frist’s diagnosis was based entirely on his having examined video footage of Schiavo, who was then the subject of a legal and political controversy over whether her life should be ended.

When Schiavo subsequently died, an autopsy showed that her brain was “profoundly atrophied” and that the damage was irreversible. In short, the post-mortem examination put the lie to Frist’s phony and politically-motivated diagnosis. (See HERE.)

And then there’s the example of conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, a licensed psychiatrist who has the bad habit of invoking his professional credentials in his political comments.

In one such case, Krauthammer, who was taking issue with something Al Gore had said, pompously declaimed: “I’m a psychiatrist. I don’t usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there’s a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. [Al Gore] could use a little help.”

There are more examples of Krauthammer’s pseudo-professional excesses HERE.

The moral of all this is that politicians and political pundits who also are doctors should not invoke their professional credentials in political contexts. Instances of such amount to malpractice.



  1. ‘I wonder if he’ll be willing to testify in the trial of his goon who stomped on the head of that young girl.’

    Who cares what Rand Paul or anyone what else says. This is what the little girls father said about his daughter murder.


  2. Milton Waddams

    While I don’t feel Rand Paul is qualified to speak to the psychiatric state of the murderer, he is a little more qualified than you and most of the posters on this blog (except for expdoc) to offer a medical opinion. Last time I checked an ophthalmologist IS an MD.

    However, that being said, I agree that Rand Paul should have just kept quiet.

  3. DingDong

    This is ridiculous, first of all he presented it as an opinion. This why he said, “there’s a lot to suggest”. Also, unlike other medical diagnoses, mental diagnoses are almost solely based upon observation and dialog with the patient.

  4. wow what he did is just plain wrong he should be in jail.

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia

    CriteriaThe ICD 10 criteria are typically used in European countries, while the DSM criteria are used in the United States and the rest of the world, as well as prevailing in research studies. The ICD-10 criteria put more emphasis on Schneiderian first-rank symptoms, although, in practice, agreement between the two systems is high.[76]

    According to the revised fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, three diagnostic criteria must be met:[77]

    1.Characteristic symptoms: Two or more of the following, each present for much of the time during a one-month period (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
    Disorganized speech, which is a manifestation of formal thought disorder
    Grossly disorganized behavior (e.g. dressing inappropriately, crying frequently) or catatonic behavior
    Negative symptoms: Blunted affect (lack or decline in emotional response), alogia (lack or decline in speech), or avolition (lack or decline in motivation)
    If the delusions are judged to be bizarre, or hallucinations consist of hearing one voice participating in a running commentary of the patient’s actions or of hearing two or more voices conversing with each other, only that symptom is required above. The speech disorganization criterion is only met if it is severe enough to substantially impair communication.
    2.Social or occupational dysfunction: For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, one or more major areas of functioning such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.
    3.Significant duration: Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least six months. This six-month period must include at least one month of symptoms (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
    If signs of disturbance are present for more than a month but less than six months, the diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder is applied.[77] Psychotic symptoms lasting less than a month may be diagnosed as brief psychotic disorder, and various conditions may be classed as psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. Schizophrenia cannot be diagnosed if symptoms of mood disorder are substantially present (although schizoaffective disorder could be diagnosed), or if symptoms of pervasive developmental disorder are present unless prominent delusions or hallucinations are also present, or if the symptoms are the direct physiological result of a general medical condition or a substance, such as abuse of a drug or medication.

    SubtypesThe DSM-IV-TR contains five sub-classifications of schizophrenia, although the developers of DSM-5 are recommending they be dropped from the new classification:[78]

    Paranoid type: Where delusions and hallucinations are present but thought disorder, disorganized behavior, and affective flattening are absent. (DSM code 295.3/ICD code F20.0)

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