The Docceroos are exactly who you think they are

Pete Wildman

Sunday morning was great fun.

I got to lace up my boots for the Australian Doctors football team, the affectionately named ‘Docceroos’. I didn’t realise the team existed until yesterday, but Google tells me they narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in last year’s World Medical Football Championships in Barcelona (losing 1-0 to Hungary), so they’ve been doing us proud. I’m not a doctor of course, but it was a friendly, and as some of their interstate squad members weren’t able to be there, a mate asked me if I could make up the numbers. I had a great time, despite losing 2-1 on the day.

I also had an interesting conversation in the car on the way there, and there’s something we discussed that I’d like to reflect on in this post. The guy giving me a lift to the game is a Psychiatrist, and our conversation led to him telling me about the Goldwater rule – how it’s not ethical to give a professional opinion about a public figure without performing a clinical interview (e.g. we can’t really claim that Trump’s a madman / narcissist despite our spidersenses tingling on overdrive). The Goldwater rule (thanks Wikipedia for the following blurb) is the informal name given to Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Principles of Medical Ethics, which states it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health in public statements. It is named after presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and arose in 1964 when Fact published the article “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater”. The magazine polled psychiatrists about American Senator Barry Goldwater and whether he was fit to be president.  The editor, Ralph Ginzburg, was sued for libel in Goldwater v. Ginzburg where Goldwater won $75,000 (approximately $579,000 today) in damages.

I just found it interesting, and it got me thinking about how we can sometimes fall into the trap of making assumptions about people or situations, perhaps ‘inventing’ a scenario that a) doesn’t exist and b) holds us back from success. I’m generally an optimist, but I realise that I can sometimes fall into this trap; I recently spoke with two candidates I’d been asked to reach out to about a specific opportunity. Their experience levels led me to believe that they probably wouldn’t be interested, and in my head I’d pretty much decided how the conversation was going to go. The role would be ‘beneath them’, they’d give me a ‘thanks, but no thanks’, and I’d be back to square one. I’d come to this conclusion as a result of previous experiences within similar recruitment projects, but not with these individuals, this specific opportunity, or this particular client. I had completely projected an outcome before I’d even picked up the phone – only to be pleasantly surprised by both candidates. For two very different reasons, the opportunity appealed to both of them.

We never really know what will come of it unless we ask the question. Have you been guilty of this yourself? Is it holding you back?


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