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Henry Stein July 29th, 2011 08:51 AM

Madman in Chief
The recent issue of Newsweek included a review of a bizarre new book of psychiatric case studies by Nassir Chaemi titled, "A First Rate Madness." The provocative and spooky thesis is that great leadership is not characterized by a "splendidly healthy mind, but an exceptionally broken one." The author proposes that mood disorders, like depression and mania bring clear-eyed perception and resilience to a leader. In support of his opinions that madness is a close relative of genius, and that crazy leaders are often too sane for their time, the author provides an illustrative list of political and business leaders. Conspicuously missing from this book are the paranoid, sociopathic, and psychopathic figures of Hitler and Stalin. Stating that George W. Bush was "too normal" to deal with the September 11 attacks, raises serious questions about the author's judgement. Perhaps the author, director of the Mood Disorder Program at Tufts University, needs to get out a little more often.

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