Manic depressive, bipolar as it is called now. Too often we hear people who are to be convicted of a serious crime sheltering behind the diagnosis bipolar. The stigma resounds. Personally having known and being diagnosed as a manic depressive I have often wondered why there is that deep feeling of concern when there are major travesties of injustice perpetrated. CNN last night spoke about JFK, Lincoln and Churchill. This article from Irish Central merits consideration especially Professor Nassir Ghaemi, Psychiatrist. The war in Ukraine is savage but there is a man who rose to the occasion; like Churchill, I wonder in time will we discover that he has qualities related to manic depression giving him the impetus to act with such deep dedication and commitment. I am talking about President Zelenskyy.

JFK, Lincoln, MLK suffered mental health problems

Manic depressive people have an easier time solving problems in a time of crisis.

Kayla Hertz


Jan 11, 2023

John F. Kennedy: Manic depressive people have an easier time solving problems in a time of crisis.

John F. Kennedy: Manic depressive people have an easier time solving problems in a time of crisis. GETTY

Some of the world’s greatest leaders suffered from mental health issues such as depression, and psychologists and psychiatrists say that it was a big contributing factor to their success.

Tufts professor of Psychiatry Nassir Ghaemi, who wrote a book about the psychological issues of important historical figures, said that manic-depressive people tend to be more creative, empathetic, and realistic than the average person. They often excel during times of crisis, while they may disappoint in times of peace.

Saying that someone has psychiatric issues “in my view, is a compliment,” Ghaemi said.

Two such examples are former American presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, two of America’s most beloved leaders, who psychiatrists say both suffered from depression.


“Some of those mental health problems can, in fact, make for greatness,” said Katherine Nordal, head of the American Psychological Association’s professional practice program, and other psychiatric professionals agreed.

President Abraham Lincoln.


President Abraham Lincoln.

In his book, “A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness,” Ghaemi also discusses Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, as well as Martin Luther King Jr., as examples of great leaders who suffered from depression. Grant, who suffered from alcoholism, excelled during the crisis of war but wasn’t a good leader during times of peace, the Times of India said.

Another such example is former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who suffered from long bouts of depression, which he referred to as his “black dog.” Churchill also thrived in the crisis of war and failed during post-war times of peace and prosperity.

His predecessor of the same political party, Neville Chamberlain, was considered to be more mentally healthy, which is thought to have contributed to the fact that he didn’t recognize the real threat of Adolf Hitler.

*Originally published in April 2021. Updated in January 2023. 

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About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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