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Dave Randall

Posted on March 19, 2019 22:37

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The big mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may have housed more than a couple of flawed men.

44 men have served as our 45 presidents--Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms, thus the odd number. All men, one of color, and at least 15 with character flaws or psychological disorders and illness that, in retrospect, should have precluded them from holding the seat of power. 

Thomas Jefferson's brilliance was not compromised at the time, but he is viewed, today, as a deeply conflicted by his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings, their children, and the amoral hypocrisy of it all. 

Andrew Jackson had a volcanic temperament. His attitude toward his hundreds of slaves and his treatment of Native Americans might qualify as sadistic. It seems to be up to which of his biographers you read.

Franklin Pierce did not have a distinguished term in office, marred by the death of his son, which resulted in his suffering severe bouts of depression. He drank voraciously.

Abraham Lincoln also lost a son, and was also depressed. Andrew Johnson, who ascended to office after Lincoln's assassination, drank more than Pierce. It was his bitter disposition that played a major factor in his impeachment.

It's no secret that Ulysses S. Grant had a fondness for the bottle that inevitably impaired his judgment during two scandal-plagued terms. Alcoholism was not considered a disease in the 19th Century. If anything, it was assumed to relieve the horrors of depression. The world of medicine, at the time, couldn't have been more wrong.

Theodore Roosevelt spent all his adult life compensating for a sickly childhood. 

Woodrow Wilson was a virulent racist, Warren Harding a womanizer, Calvin Coolidge was taciturn--Silent Cal, they called him. But the silence came from tragic losses in his family, including the death of his son when he was president. Again, depression clouded over a Commander in Chief. It was also said that Dwight Eisenhower suffered "Melancholia".

John F. Kennedy hid several illnesses, and his reckless pursuit of women. Bill Clinton, as we know from the recent past, was impeached expressly for lying about his extra-marital liaison. Clinton loved women, but denied many other accusations.

Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon both had issues of inferiority and paranoid delusions. The late Dick Goodwin wrote of discretely asking a psychiatrist about the symptoms, and getting answers that made him conclude Johnson was not at all well. Nixon's personality comes out on the many tapes he tried to keep from release until his death 25 years ago.

If these disorders had been more widely known, there might well be three fewer faces on Mount Rushmore. The Civil War and the tragedy of slavery might never have ended, or the Cuban missile crisis could well have ended the world. 

Dave Randall

Posted on March 19, 2019 22:37

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Source: BBC

Mental health: I lost two jobs because my Borderline Personality Disorder was misdiagnosed.

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