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US historical presidency gets time on the couch

by MarciaB / May 21, 2006 5:13 AM PDT

The psychiatric couch, that is, from a study done by Duke University Dept. of Psychiatry professors.

ARTICLE HERE

ASSESSING THE PSYCHIATRIC HEALTH OF U.S. PRESIDENTS
(excerpts from article)
It turns out that about half the presidents between George Washington and Richard M. Nixon suffered from some sort of psychiatric disorder.

The sheer volume of psychiatric disorders resident in the historical presidency is, at first blush, staggering. Most of us have given very little thought to the mental health of, say, Rutherford B. Hayes (major depressive disorder) or James Garfield (depression, again). But to realize that 10 presidents suffered from depression is to concentrate the mind on why it often seems so difficult for presidents to concentrate the mind.

In truth, there is a very important message in the three psychiatrists' report, published this winter in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. This study tells us that presidents are more vulnerable and less perfect than we sometimes think. It tells us that people with mental illness can be highly functional and highly successful. And, because the presidents suffer rates of mental illness roughly comparable to the general public, it reminds us that mental illness, especially depression, is more widespread than we sometimes acknowledge.

This report may become irresistible fodder for political scientists of the Jay Leno and Jon Stewart schools, but if interpreted soberly it may be one of the most potent political tools the mental-health lobby has ever acquired.

The important implications of this study: There is no evidence that mental illness led to national catastrophe. (Indeed, it was a man with severe mental disorders who saved the nation during its gravest challenge, the Civil War.) And the prominence of mental illness in our most prominent citizens can only serve to diminish the stigma of psychological problems. In that regard, some of our presidents are serving their country long after having left office.


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Considering the pressures of the job...
by EdH / May 21, 2006 5:21 AM PDT

It's always seemed to me that you'd have to be a little crazy to want it and that doing it would be bound to drive a person around the bend.

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(NT) (NT) I have always believed that, EdH! :)
by MarciaB / May 21, 2006 5:28 AM PDT
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