A number of presidents, candidates and politicians — including (clockwise from top left) Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Eagleton, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater — have been the subject of speculation about their mental health or faculties.

A number of presidents, candidates and politicians — including (clockwise from top left) Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Eagleton, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater — have been the subject of speculation about their mental health or faculties.

It’s been called everything from the elephant in the room to a forbidden issue…the mental health of the President of the United States.

But this doesn’t mean President Donald Trump.

History suggests several presidents faced mental health issues and something so common is no disqualification for office, but is it a danger to have the leader of the free world without access to a mental health professional?

In short: Does the president — any president — need a psychiatrist?

Guests

  • John Gartner Psychologist living and working in Baltimore and New York and the creator of a petition calling for President Trump's removal.
  • Alex Thompson Politics and policy editor of Vice News
  • Rebecca Brendel Consultant, American Psychiatric Association’s Ethics Committee
  • Dan McAdams Professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University
  • Matthew Dallek Associate professor of political management, Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University. He is the author of "Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security"

What To Read

The President Needs A Psychiatrist by Alex Thompson

This is not about assuaging the fears or stoking the jeers of those who have called Donald Trump a psychopath or a narcissist. The assumption that presidents have robust mental health was wrong long before the 45th president came along. As I have written before, at least two presidents—John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon—surreptitiously took daily psychiatric medications such as Valium and other anxiety treatments while occupying the Oval Office. Another—Lyndon B. Johnson—was so emotionally erratic that his top aides consulted psychiatrists and confronted the first lady about his behavior. And Abraham Lincoln experienced such deep bouts of depression during his life that he was confined to bed and contemplated suicide.

Despite the mercurial behavior and pill-popping, there is no one employed to keep tabs on the president’s mental health. Nor has any presidential physician ever been a trained psychiatrist.

American Psychiatric Association Remains Committed to Supporting Goldwater Rule by Dr. Maria Oquendo

1. When a psychiatrist comments about the behavior, symptoms, diagnosis, etc. of a public figure without consent, that psychiatrist has violated the principle that psychiatric evaluations be conducted with consent or authorization.

2. Offering a professional opinion on an individual that a psychiatrist has not examined is a departure from established methods of examination, which require careful study of medical history and first-hand examination of the patient. Such behavior compromises both the integrity of the psychiatrist and the profession.

3. When psychiatrists offer medical opinions about an individual they have not examined, they have the potential to stigmatize those with mental illness.

Could America Elect a Mentally Ill President? Yes. In fact, we probably already did. by Alex Thompson

“Nixon and John F. Kennedy clandestinely filled their medicine cabinets with psychotropic drugs, recently uncovered documents reveal. In fact, Kennedy aide and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. suggested in his journals that several modern presidents were mentally unbalanced; he recorded top aides arguing whether President Lyndon Johnson was clinically paranoid or a manic-depressive, and fretted that there was no constitutional ‘procedure for dealing with nuts.'”

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