Head cases

The mental health of saints and presidents
Being president of the United States undermines one’s mental health or else an inordinate number of people with mental disorder have been elected to the post. According to psychiatrists at Duke University (reported in the June Atlantic Monthly), 16 of the 37 presidents from Washington to Nixon “may have suffered from a mental illness.” In ten cases this was manifested during their time in office and “probably impaired job performance.” Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and alcoholism, in that order, were the prominent afflictions. Franklin Pierce lost a son and almost went mad. William Howard Taft faced presidential anxiety by overeating and suffered “massive obesity and obstructive sleep apnea.”


This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.