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Commentary
September 17, 2008

Role of Physicians and Mental Health Professionals in Discussions of Public Figures

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York.

JAMA. 2008;300(11):1348-1350. doi:10.1001/jama.300.11.1348

On March 17, 2008, Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York resigned his office amidst revelations of his involvement with prostitutes.1 In the days following this political upheaval, the media turned to various mental health professionals to help the public understand the former governor's puzzling behavior. Much of the public discussion focused on the role of risk taking. For example, Farley, a psychologist at Temple University, was quoted as saying: “Look at Spitzer: he's Mr. Rectitude, the terror of Wall Street, and he busts prostitution rings, and yet he allegedly goes into that very lions' den—the prostitution ring—and partakes. If that isn't risk-taking I don't know what other label to put on it.”2

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