Bandy X. Lee
|Education||Yale University School of Medicine, Yale Divinity School|
|Institutions||Yale School of Medicine|
|Awards||National Research Service Award|
Bandy Xenobia Lee is an American psychiatrist whose scholarly work includes the writing of a comprehensive textbook on violence. She is a specialist in public health approaches to violence prevention who consulted with the World Health Organization and initiated reforms at New York's Rikers Island Correctional Facility. She has contributed to prison reform in the United States and around the world. She was formerly associated with Yale University.
In 2017, Lee organized a conference at Yale on professional ethics surrounding the mental health of Donald Trump. She withheld her views at the conference, but later, she criticized the American Psychiatric Association for changing an ethical guideline called the Goldwater rule following concerns raised among professional peers about the Trump presidency. In March 2017, the association had expanded the rule to restrict not just diagnosis, but any comment, related to the mental health of public figures absent a personal examination, calling it a "reaffirmation". This change alarmed Lee and her colleagues enough  to prompt convening the conference the next month, and later in the year editing The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book of essays warning about the dangers of Trump's mental instability that became a New York Times bestseller. She donated all revenues from the book to the public good to remove conflicts of interest.
Early life and education
Bandy Lee was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is of Korean descent. Her mother was Inmyung Lee. As a teenager, Lee volunteered in Harlem as a tutor for homeless African-American children. Her grandfather was Geun-Young Lee, a respected physician after the Korean War, who Lee says inspired her with a belief that practicing medicine also involves social responsibility.
Lee received her M.D. from the Yale University School of Medicine in 1994 and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Yale Divinity School in 1995. Lee interned at the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. During her residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Lee was designated as the chief resident.
Lee studied the anthropology of violence in East Africa as a fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health and co-authored academic papers on Côte d'Ivoire, Tanzania, and Rwanda. She is a specialist in violence prevention programs in prisons and in the community  and worked for several years in maximum security prisons in the United States  where she was instrumental in initiating reforms at New York's Rikers Island jail complex.
She has consulted with five different U.S. states on prison reform. Lee was director of research for the Center for the Study of Violence and with Kaveh Khoshnood, founded Yale University's Violence and Health Study Group. She heads a project group of the Violence Prevention Alliance for the World Health Organization and is the author of the textbook, Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures.
Comments on Donald Trump
In April 2017, Lee hosted a meeting at Yale University medical school to discuss the ethics of speaking about the mental health of Donald Trump. The assembled, prominent psychiatrists decided they had a "duty to warn". Following the conference, in an interview with Salon in May 2017, Lee stated that Trump suffered from mental health issues and due to his holding the office of president, the issues amount to a "state of emergency" and that "our survival as a species may be at stake", She also discussed her views that link what she sees as increasing inequality in the United States to a deterioration in collective mental health. Later in 2017, she was the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book of essays alleging that Trump suffers from psychological problems that make him dangerous. After the book's publication, she reported receiving thousands of threatening messages by letter, telephone, and on social media that included death threats.
In December 2017, she met 12 members of the United States Congress (11 Democrats, 1 Republican) to give them her opinion on Trump's mental health, in which she reportedly argued that he was "unraveling". In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Jeffrey Lieberman, past president of the APA, argued that Lee and her co-authors were guilty of a "misguided and dangerous morality". This was in spite of the fact that another prominent psychiatrist and former chair of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, had said, "When I first heard about the conference that gave rise to this book at Yale, I was worried that a manifesto would come out with a diagnosis.... That is not what happened: what happened is a very thoughtful assessment based on lots of public data." Lieberman, rather, was reported to have diagnosed Trump, the very act he accused Lee and colleagues of committing. Lieberman was instrumental to shutting down what had by that time become "the number one topic of national discussion."
Lee's colleagues argued that the Goldwater Rule has become a "gag rule" and made recommendations about making corrections to it. Lee emphasized that, when meeting with lawmakers, she was adhering to the American Psychiatric Association's guideline, which precedes the Goldwater rule, and which urges psychiatrists "to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government." In an interview she also said, "whenever the Goldwater rule is mentioned, we should also refer to the Declaration of Geneva, established by the World Medical Association 25 years earlier, which mandates physicians to speak up if there are humanitarian reasons to do so. This Declaration was created in response to the experience of Nazism."
Since that time, two investigative articles have exposed the APA actions as taken to use the Goldwater rule to protect its federal funding under the Trump administration, as its own officer admitted on a previous occasion. Lieberman was one of the beneficiaries. Trump's niece, psychologist Mary L. Trump, who wrote a book asserting that her uncle suffered from severe psychological problems, called the rule "absurd on its face [with] potentially serious consequences for the safety of the American people". Lee stated, "Americans had to learn to do without expertise, just as it has with the pandemic, and the results have been equally devastating." She gave a blow-by-blow account  that showed how mental health experts predicted the mismanagement of a pandemic that exceeded a half-million deaths, shortly following the end of the Trump presidency. A Columbia University study, a Lancet Commission, and a member of Trump's own White House Coronavirus Task Force confirmed the former president's central role in a large portion of these deaths.
In her Profile of a Nation, published on October 1, 2020, Lee warned of a violent reaction after an election loss, stating, "he is truly someone who would do anything, no matter how terrible, no matter how destructive, to stay in power." Bill Moyers, who interviewed her shortly after the January 6, 2021 Trump-incited U.S. Capitol attack, called her "the least surprised person in the country." He had praised her 2017 book as "profound, illuminating and discomforting." On January 9, 2021, Lee was among World Mental Health Coalition colleagues who called for quick removal of Trump from office, and made recommendations regarding how to encourage his loyal followers to fall away from his influence.
On January 17, 2021, Lee and Jeffrey D. Sachs authored an opinion, One Group Who Knew All Along How Dangerous Trump Was: Mental Health Experts, in which they proposed changes to the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in order to "address dangerous psychological disorders, and taking steps to reduce the powers of the presidency so that the nation is not vulnerable to the whims of one mentally unbalanced individual", as well as, changes to the restraining standards imposed on members of the American Psychiatric Association in such circumstances.
Termination from Yale University
On January 2, 2020, after attorney Alan Dershowitz's response to a woman who sued him for sexual assault was to say that he had a "perfect" sex life, observers noted his language echoed Trump's comment about having a "perfect" telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Lee tweeted in response, "Alan Dershowitz’s employing the odd use of 'perfect'—not even a synonym—might be dismissed as ordinary influence in most contexts. However, given the severity and spread of 'shared psychosis' among just about all of Donald Trump’s followers, a different scenario is more likely... Which scenario? That he has wholly taken on Trump’s symptoms by contagion. There is even proof: his bravado toward his opponent with a question about his own sex life—in a way that is irrelevant to the actual lawsuit—shows the same grandiosity and delusional-level impunity."
Dershowitz publicly objected to Lee's characterization, writing, "Dr. Bandy Lee has never met me, never examined me, never seen my medical records, and never spoken to anyone close to me. Yet she is prepared to offer a diagnosis of 'psychosis' which she attributes to my being one of President Trump's 'followers.' ...Indeed, Dr. Lee went even further, diagnosing 'the severity and spread of "shared psychosis" among just about all of Donald Trump's followers.' ...She is literally claiming that we are mentally ill and our views should be considered symptoms of our illness, rather than as legitimate ideas." According to Lee, Dershowitz also e-mailed officials at Yale, stating, "This constitutes a serious violation of the ethics rules of the American Psychiatric Association. I am formally asking that association to discipline Dr. Lee."
According to Lee, John Krystal, chair of the psychiatry department at Yale, immediately warned her that the department would terminate her teaching role at Yale if her behavior did not change. She requested an investigation but did not hear back until her termination letter on May 17, 2020. After multiple appeals, Krystal in a September 4, 2020, letter gave as reasons for Lee's termination: "your repeated violations of the APA's Goldwater Rule and your inappropriate transfer of the duty to warn from the treatment setting to national politics." It may also have been a response to a letter by Gregory Scholtz, the president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), also dated September 4, 2020: "The interest of our Association in the case of Dr. Lee arises from its longstanding commitment to basic tenets of academic freedom and due process.... Under the 1940 Statement, 'College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.... [e]xtramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for continuing service.'" In March 2021, Lee sued Yale University over the termination, claiming breach of contract, breach of good faith and wrongful termination.
In response to the news, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School tweeted, "This is a disgusting way for any university to act. Dr. Bandy Lee should never have been fired." Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University stated, "Yale blundered badly by siding with the APA's gag rule rather than the right—indeed responsibility—of its faculty to speak out against a dangerous president." Cornel West, who himself said he was recently denied tenure at Harvard because of his speech, stated, "I wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with Bandy Lee, a brilliant and wonderful sister and professor!" A letter signed by prominent colleagues asked Krystal, "[Since] contributors to this book which Dr. Lee edited include many scholars and international exemplars of psychiatric ethics, we wonder if they too would be terminated were they to be members of your department." Several op-eds on academic freedom and the Goldwater Rule were published by prominent public intellectuals, and at least two petitions are in motion for Lee's reinstatement.
- "Detecting depressive disorder with a 19-item local instrument in Tanzania." International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol. 54 (2008), pp. 21–33. (With S.F. Kaaya, J.K. Mbwambo, M.C. Smith-Fawzi, & M.T. Leshabari)
- "Preventing gender-based violence engendered by conflict: The case of Côte d’Ivoire." Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 146 (2015), pp. 341–347. (With M. Blay-Tofey)
- "A reflection on the madness in prisons", Stanford Law and Policy Review, Vol. 26 (2015), pp. 253–268. (With M. Prabhu)
- "Health system re-design following sexual violence during the genocide in Rwanda." International Journal of Public Health, Vol. 61 (2016), pp. 959–960. (With G. Uwizeye & T. Kroll)
- "Transforming our world: Implementing the 2030 agenda through sustainable development goal indicators." Journal of Public Health Policy, Vol. 37 (2016), pp. 13–31. (With F. Kjaerulf, S. Turner, L. Cohen, P.D. Donnelly, R. Muggah, R. Davis et al.)
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- The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Thomas Dunne Books, 2017. (Editor) ISBN 978-1250179456
- Violent States and Creative States: From the Global to the Individual. Vol. 1: Structural Violence and Creative Structures. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018. (With J. Adlam & T. Kluttig) ISBN 978-1785925641
- Violent States and Creative States: From the Global to the Individual. Vol. 2: Human Violence and Creative Humanity. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018. (With J. Adlam & T. Kluttig) ISBN 978-1785925658
- Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures. Wiley-Blackwell, 2019. ISBN 978-1119240693
- The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Thomas Dunne Books, 2019. (Editor) ISBN 978-1250212863
- "Government political structure and gender differences in violent death: A longitudinal analysis of forty-three countries, 1960–2008." Aggression and Violent Behavior, Vol. 46 (2019), pp. 174–179. (With M. Blay-Tofey, P. Marotta, K.K. Schuder & J. Gilligan)
- "Government political structure and violent death rates: A longitudinal analysis of forty-three countries, 1960–2008." Aggression and Violent Behavior, Vol. 47 (2019), pp. 262–267. (With P. Marotta, M. Blay-Tofey, K.K. Schuder, C.H. Kim, G. Lee & J. Gilligan)
- "Addressing the elephant in the room: Stories of ethical activism in the age of Trump." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 60 (2020), pp. 459–462. (With H. West & S. Wruble)
- "How we each emerged from isolation, found each other and a common voice." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 60(2020), pp. 463–476. (With L.L. Glass & E.B. Fisher).
- Profile of a Nation: Trump's Mind, America's Soul. World Mental Health Coalition, 2020. ISBN 978-1735553740
- The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists, Scientific American, January 11, 2021
- , Common Dreams, The Boston Globe, January 17, 2021
- Lee, Bandy X. (February 19, 2019). "Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures". Wiley.com.
- "Interview With Yale Forensic Psychiatrist Bandy Lee". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2021-04-17.
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- "Transcript of the Duty to Warn Conference" (PDF).
- Lee, Bandy X. (October 11, 2019). "Mental health experts see Trump is dangerous, but our professional gatekeepers protect him". USA Today. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
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- Sharman, Joe (April 25, 2017). "Psychiatrist issues urgent warning over Trump's mental health". The Independent. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
- Lee, Bandy X.; Glass, Leonard L. (January 10, 2018). "We're Psychiatrists. It's Our Duty to Question the President's Mental State". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
- Blakely, Rhys (18 January 2018). "Are Donald Trump's test results fake news?". The Times. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- Wright, Sarah (2021-04-05). "The doctor is in — and she specializes in violence prevention". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved 2021-04-17.
- Bandy X. Lee, MD, M.Div. Archived 2018-01-18 at the Wayback Machine Yale School of Medicine: Psychiatry. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- Bandy Lee, Yale University's Violence and Health Study Group Archived 2016-04-03 at the Wayback Machine Violence Prevention Alliance, World Health Organization. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Morris, Alex (November 12, 2018). "What Happens When the Walls Finally Close in on Trump?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
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- Kalmbacher, Colin (January 21, 2020). "Interview: Law Professor Richard Painter, Psychiatrist Bandy Lee Explain Views on Trump's Trial". lawandcrime.com. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
- DeVega, Chauncey (May 25, 2017). "Psychiatrist Bandy Lee: "We have an obligation to speak about Donald Trump's mental health issues... Our survival as a species may be at stake". Salon. Archived from the original on November 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
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- "Correspondence: Psychiatrists Diagnosing the President — Moral Imperative or Ethical Violation?". New England Journal of Medicine. December 27, 2017. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1716751. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- Lee, Bandy X. (2017-10-01). The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.
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- Gersen, Jeannie Suk. "How Anti-Trump Psychiatrists Are Mobilizing Behind the Twenty-Fifth Amendment". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- Trump, Mary L. (November 22, 2020). "Mary Trump: Psychiatrists know what's wrong with my uncle. Let them tell voters". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- "The Mental Health Pandemic that Did Not Need to Be". Bioethics.net. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- Lee, Bandy X. (September 29, 2020). "The Trump Mental Health Pandemic". Medium. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- "Half a million dead in US, confirming virus's tragic reach". AP NEWS. 2021-02-22. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
- "Inadequate COVID-19 Response Likely Resulted in 130,000 - 210,000 Avoidable Deaths". State of the Planet. 2020-10-22. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
- "Lancet commission examines Trump's COVID response". ABC News. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
- Jacqueline Howard and Caroline Kelly. "Birx recalls 'very difficult' phone call from Trump following her Covid-19 warnings". CNN. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
- Lee, Bandy X. (2020-10-01). Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul.
- "Is it possible that Trump's fixation on reversing the election drove him nuts?". BillMoyers.com. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
- "Statement: WMHC Calls for the Immediate Removal of President Donald Trump from Office". World Mental Health Coalition. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
- Lewis, Tanya, The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists, Scientific American, January 11, 2021
- Lee, Bandy X.; Sachs, Jeffrey D, One Group Who Knew All Along How Dangerous Trump Was: Mental Health Experts, Common Dreams, Opinion, The Boston Globe, January 17, 2021
- Painter, Richard W. (2 January 2021). "Just like @realDonaldTrump's "perfect phone call"". Twitter. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
- Lee, Bandy X. (January 2, 2020). "Alan Dershowitz's employing the odd use of "perfect"—not even a synonym—might be dismissed as ordinary influence in most contexts. However, given the severity and spread of "shared psychosis" among just about all of Donald Trump's followers, a different scenario is more likely". Twitter (Tweet). Retrieved 2021-03-24.
- Lee, Bandy X. (January 2, 2020). "Which scenario? That he has wholly taken on Trump's symptoms by contagion. There is even proof: his bravado toward his opponent with a question about his own sex life—in a way that is irrelevant to the actual lawsuit—shows the same grandiosity and delusional-level impunity". Twitter (Tweet). Retrieved 2021-03-24.
- Dershowitz, Alan M. (January 11, 2020). "Yale Psychiatrist Issues Diagnosis of "Psychotic" for Defending Constitutional Rights". Gatestone Institute. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
- Complaint, Lee v. Yale University, Case 3:21-cv-00389-MPS (D. Conn. filed Mar. 22, 2021), ¶ 29.
- Complaint, Lee v. Yale University, Case 3:21-cv-00389-MPS (D. Conn. filed Mar. 22, 2021), ¶ 30.
- Complaint, Lee v. Yale University, Case 3:21-cv-00389-MPS (D. Conn. filed Mar. 22, 2021), ¶ 33.
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