Mr. Tuttle's article depicts the problems of using mental health information to destroy a career. However, a significant part of the past US history of forced psychiatric exams was missing in the article.
In the late 1970s I blew the whistle on the government's use of the forced fitness-for-duty exam. I was in the United States Public Health Service and I interviewed persons sent for forced exams. The exam was forced on whistleblowers and others at the whim of the supervisor. Jack Anderson exposed this practice after I reported it to Congress. The law was changed in 1984 and prohibited the use of such exams.
This exam is completely unethical and should not be used in a civil society. The American Psychiatric Association has found that the exams are unethical for psychiatrists to perform. When it is used even though one passes the test one's career is over. There is prejudice against anyone whose supervisor says must have a mental problem. The practice allows supervisors to claim that a person is mentally ill and the mental health evaluator to report whether the person is fit for duty. It is more proper for the supervisor to determine the fitness for duty and the doctor to report whether one is mentally ill. In addition, it is the right of the employee not the employer to determine whether they need mental health services.
If anyone reading this letter has had the exam performed on them please contact me so that we can expose and remedy the situation.
Don Soeken, PhD
Ellicott City, MD
Oct 28 2008 - 12:23pm