Tag Archives: madness

On Nixon’s Sanity…or Otherwise

August 18, 2011

I’ve  been hearing a lot about Nassir Ghaemi’s new book A First Rate Madness. Ghaemi, an academic psychiatrist with a string of prestigious teaching posts to his name.  He’s also the director of the Mood Disorders Clinic at Tufts University Medical Center.  Using the lives of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill and Gandhi, Ghaemi argues that one “should accept, even celebrate” the possibility that our decision-makers have dealt with mental illnesses —  all of which he says foster in those who have them the qualities of “realism, resilience, empathy and creativity.”

It’s an intriguing and counter-intuitive theory – which should rise or fall on the strength of Ghaemi’s grasp of the personalities he’s chosen as his subjects. I cannot claim any special knowledge of Lincoln, Churchill or Gandhi. As one of the late President’s biographer’s, however, and the only one to have spent considerable time with his psychotherapist – I’ll be intrigued to see the case he makes for Richard Nixon. According to Newsweek, Ghaemi concludes, that Nixon’s failing was that he was “too sane” for the times he lived in, his handling of the Watergate crisis too much like that of an ordinary person. Continue reading

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