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Shrink under fire for tweeting star actor as having hypomania
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.12.01 18:28
  • Updated 2017.12.01 18:28
  • comments 0

A psychiatrist Friday defended his Twitter comment on the mental state of top-star Yoo Ah-in by citing his “duty as a psychiatrist,” sparking a fierce debate on the ethical guidelines of psychiatrists in the country.

The psychiatrist, Kim Hyun-chul, known for his appearance on a Korean entertainment program Infinite Challenge, wrote a series of tweets starting Sunday that speculated on the actor having acute hypomania.

The psychiatrist began asking the actor’s twitter followers on the frequency and volume of Yoo’s tweets, saying that he has felt a “vibe” from the young actor’s tweets.

“I am asking seriously whether (Yoo) had previously talked of his birthplace, family’s real name, childhood memories and whether the volume (of such tweets) is the same as before," Kim tweeted. “I would like to meet Yoo Ah-in’s agency or his family members who read this.”

Psychiatrist Kim Hyun-chul’s series of tweets about Yoo Ah-in
Source: Yoo Ah-in’s Instagram (left), Kim Hyun-Chul’s Twitter

After receiving no particular response from either the agency or his family members, Kim implied Tuesday that Yoon might have developed acute hypomania, citing his recent activities.

“When I look at his activities -- having signed on for two, three movies at the same time -- the gap in the timeline is exceptionally tight, and there are also reward mechanisms such as leaps or exaggerations in thought,” Kim tweeted.

Kim claimed that Yoo’s symptoms of hypomania – a feature of bipolar II disorder characterized by a declining need for sleep, an overall increase in energy, talkativeness, and confidence – would likely worsen in the coming months.

“This isn't about the present, but in regards to what will happen later on. If Yoo falls into depression, things can get dangerous,” Kim went on to tweet.

The psychiatrist’s tweets were met with online criticism, with some saying that it violated medical laws.

Kim retorted Wednesday via Twitter, saying that he did not get his doctor’s license to “stay put” and that pointing out the truth is “at the least, (my) duty as a psychiatrist.”

Kim said he would continue tweeting even though he is aware of the fact that he could get sued because he believes that the top priority for psychiatrists is “to protect.”

Yoo fired back at the doctor, telling him to “get a grip.”

As the controversy grew to beyond just Kim to encompass other psychiatrists, doctors responded by condemning Kim’s armchair diagnosis, and saying that his commentary on the individual's mental health on a public online forum without a proper or real-life consultation was unethical.

The Korean Employed Psychiatrists Association issued a statement Thursday saying that the doctor’s actions were a breach of ethics and expressed regret over his remarks.

“Psychiatrists do not publicly express subjective thoughts loaded with a psychiatric diagnosis of an individual that they have not directly treated,” the association said. “This is the basic ethics and principle that psychiatrists should have.”

The duty of a doctor is not only to cure diseases, but also to protect human health and well-being, and ultimately to preserve human dignity. Even if the purpose (of public commentary) is treatment, all actions made in the process should be taken with caution and maintain strict confidentiality, it added.


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