To insure the focus of theme it is assumed for present purposes that the hurdles of proof and proximate cause in an actionable defamation have been cleared and that there is no concern with any other issues that may arise, offensively or defensively, in a defamation action beyond the propriety, or impropriety, of proving mental suffering as an element of compensable damage. Stated another way, the crux of the matter is whether mental anguish is, can, or ought to be classified as special damage in defamation actions. Punitive damages are, of course, an element of no relevance here except in the unlikely event some court should find that mental anguish provides the special damage under the usual defamation rule requiring some special damage before punitive damages are allowable.
Jack G. Day, Mental Suffering as an Element of Damages in Defamation Cases, 15 Clev.-Marshall L. Rev. 26 (1966)