When political madness works. (2012)
“Kennedy, Roosevelt, Gandhi and Churchill all suffered various types of depression, bipolar syndrome or hyperactive manias. But instead of being a handicap, these “problems”, when kept under some control, helped them in crises
FT Magazine, 12 October 2012
As the political fight heats up in America, there has been endless debate about the character of President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But does anyone know what drives their inner psychology or neurology? And should we care?
That is the question that has been bubbling in my mind this week, after I attended an event organised by David Owen, the British politician.
Owen has … assembled a network of neuroscientists, financiers, politicians and psychologists to explore “hubris”. This week they held their first public brainstorming session under the aegis of the British Royal Society of Medicine and Daedalus Trust (of which, in the interest of disclosure, I am a trustee).
… one of the most provocative pieces of research comes from Nassir Ghaemi, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts University. Last year, Ghaemi published a book, A First-Rate Madness, which evaluates a dozen world leaders, and concludes that many were not mentally “normal”. On the contrary, Ghaemi says, men such as John Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill all suffered various types of depression, bipolar syndrome or hyperactive manias.
But instead of being a handicap, these “problems”, when kept under some control, helped them in crises: mania is associated with energy and creativity, and depression instils empathy and more realism. Or, to put it another way, people who are entirely normal – or “homoclitic” to use the psychological jargon – do not make great leaders.
Read the full article here: When political madness works
Got an opinion? Leave a comment below.