Mental Illness And The Presidency

January 30, 2014 Alistair McHarg

America may not be perfect, it may not even be pluperfect, and, truth be told, its glory days as a superpower seem to be shrinking faster than telephone poles in the rear-view mirror of a Cadillac El Dorado fleeing a crime scene. However, there is one area in which we have progressed nobly, that is, making good on our constitutionally guaranteed claim of unequivocally equal opportunity for all, regardless.

It seems incredible today but, when I was just a little Funny In The Head, JFK’s Catholicism was a source of fierce debate and considered a political liability. When Barack Obama became president he made history because of his racially mixed heritage. Today, many people believe that Hillary Clinton will be our next president, which would make her the first woman to smash through the nation’s loftiest glass ceiling.

America's First Mentally Ill President

Is wanting to be President of the United States a mental illness? Read the mental health humor blog for a funny take on this.Like fish on the beach sprouting legs, our national soul is evolving in ways we may consider heartening, but is the playing field level enough to shoot marbles? I know what you’re thinking, and more to the point, I know what I'm thinking, and here it is. Who will be America's first mentally ill president?

Not surprisingly, this question was taken up by the APA (American Psychological Association), in a lengthy research project. The resultant white paper, entitled “Mental Illness and the White House: You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Work Here But It Helps”, put forth a highly controversial theory.

Chumley Throckmorton, APA press liaison, put it thusly, “Like so many explorations, our findings contradicted our expectations. We tracked the growth of mental illness acceptance over the past century and plotted it against long-range political trends in order to predict when the first certifiably crazy president would be elected.

“What we found instead was that every American president going all the way back to Washington could, under current psychiatric standards, be considered crazy. We identified what might be termed, 'Presidential Syndrome', in which a person simultaneously craves power and powerlessness, adulation and abuse, unflinching loyalty and constant betrayal, and a never-ending tsunami of insoluble problems.

“According to APA experts there is absolutely no situation in which a person craving this cacophony of contradictions could conceivably qualify as sane.

“One may easily point to the depression of Lincoln,” Throckmorton said, “who, in fairness, had reason to be depressed. The hilarious bipolar exploits of Teddy Roosevelt leap to mind, as does the morbid obesity of President Taft. Millard Fillmore had a pathological fear of accomplishment, and so on and so on. But these are distractions."

Throckmorton gazed over the top of his reading glasses and, oozing gravitas, added, “Has there ever been a mentally ill president is not the question to ask. The real question is, has there ever been a president of the United States who was not mentally ill?”

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2014, January 30). Mental Illness And The Presidency, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

February, 1 2014 at 6:12 am

Hi Alistair! "ALL PRESIDENTS MENTALLY ILL", wouldn't that be a great headline in the news of today. I'm curious about who will take up the mantle, besides, breaking those glass ceilings must be messy, glass all over the place and such. In all seriousness, mental illness stigma keeps too many from help; it too often leads to tragedies, many of which could have been prevented. Have a great weekend, Cindy.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
February, 5 2014 at 12:42 pm

I couldn't agree more, Cindy, stigma is a danger. This is why I am so relentlessly shameless about being bipolar, I behave as if mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of because as far as I'm concerned, it isn't.

Tom Cloyd, MS, MA
January, 30 2014 at 8:37 pm

Wonderful, simply wonderful. I howled at least twice. Fine end to an excellent day!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
January, 31 2014 at 6:18 am

Tom - You make it all worthwhile! Thanks for writing - I do appreciate it. Alistair

January, 30 2014 at 1:50 pm

Interesting post. Hopefully the stigma that surrounds mental illness goes away soon- it's definitely been long enough. I will proudly support the first mentally ill presidential candidate whenever he or she steps up to the plate!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
January, 31 2014 at 6:20 am

Hi Dagan: Thanks for writing. Have you ever looked at a stone worn smooth by water? That is must happen with stigma. You can't legislate prejudice away. All of us must simply wear it away over time, all day, every day. Cheers, Alistair

Gary Ledbetter
January, 30 2014 at 6:18 am

Yes. But when will one come and say it? That is when the real difference in the acceptance of mental illness will be made.

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