Behind every historical event, I am pretty sure there was that one man (or woman) who expressed an irrational idea and had at least one close acquaintance ask, “Have you gone absolutely mad?“
In my opinion, I cannot imagine our country, or any country for that matter, having been formed from sound, rational, minds. Mental health not only impacts the lives of an individual, but can also impact the lives of those around them. Thus, it is understandable to expect our world leaders to have a sound, clear, state of mind when in the position of running an entire country; but do they? I mean, running an entire country is stressful work and after all, they are just as human as us. Turns out, an interesting study conducted in 2006 by Jonathan Davidson from Duke University Medical Center and his team of researchers discovered that nearly half of our U.S. Presidents had a mental health disorder.
Today, the United States celebrates President’s Day, in honor of all the U.S. President’s and of course the 287th birthday of the first U. S. President, George Washington. I came across this article from Psychology Today called, Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental Illness, by Guy Winch Ph.D. in 2016, talking about Jonathan Davidson’s 2006 study. I found it very interesting, but more importantly, absolutely motivating to those suffering from mental health disorders today!
According to Guy Winch Ph. D., Davidson and his team studied the first 37 Presidents and discovered that nearly half of them displayed some sort of mental health disorder. Interestingly, the study concluded that 27% of these U.S. Presidents were suffering a mental health disorder while in office. Nearly a quarter of those with a mental health disorder, suffered depression. Other disorders included a variety of different anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, and even alcohol abuse (Winch Ph. D.).
Living with Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I have had my doubts about achieving greatness with a mental health disorder. There have been many times I was convinced that my OCD was going to keep me from doing the things that I love! Today, I learned that the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, suffered from Depression! A great man who played a key role in abolishing slavery in the United States had to deal with the stress of the Civil War and Depression! Now, that is inspirational!
According to Winch Ph. D., Davidson’s study revealed that 8% of the Presidents with mental health disorders suffered from a variety of different anxiety disorders. Having an anxiety disorder myself (OCD), I now feel like skies the limit! If past U.S. Presidents can take on the stressful work of running a country while coping with their own mental health problems, then the only thing holding me back from doing amazing things is me, not my OCD.
To me, this study reveals that not all mental health disorders are as debilitating as they are often made out to be. Yes, mental health disorders can have debilitating effects, but I believe this study on U.S. Presidents with mental health disorders proves that an individual has more power than they think over their mental health disorder. I am confident these great men had struggles, but perhaps those struggles with mental health contributed to their road to greatness.
Anyone with a mental health disorder has the potential to achieve greatness! Whether it is conquering the world or just getting up in the morning to go to work. Mental health disorders are everywhere and it isn’t a bad thing. Having a brain slightly wired differently, may be challenging, but I believe it can lead to some amazing things.
Happy President’s Day!
Davidson, J. R., Connor, K. M., & Swartz, M. (2019, February 18). Mental illness in U.S. Presidents between 1776 and 1974: A review of biographical sources. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pubfacts.com/detail/16462555/Mental-illness-in-US-Presidents-between-1776-and-1974-a-review-of-biographical-sources
Winch Ph. D., G. (2016, February 2). Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental Illness. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201602/study-half-all-presidents-suffered-mental-illness