‘Madness’ And Leadership, Hand In Hand–LISTEN–
If you think about the challenges facing the men and women running for president, you might think about travel, long hours, endless public scrutiny and complete erosion of privacy. The reward that waits after victory is more pressure: a huge weight of responsibility. It’s hard not to wonder who would actually want that job.
Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, has an answer. In his new book, A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness, Ghaemi lays out the argument that leaders with some mental illnesses, particularly mania or depression, are often better in times of crisis.
Ghaemi came to that conclusion after studying the lives and medical records of many great leaders, and found that quite a few — from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr. — had some form of mental illness.
“Historians have often not paid much attention to these features of their lives; they’ve just written them off as irrelevant to their leadership,” Ghaemi tells NPR’s Laura Sullivan. “So one thing I wanted to do was just to show that these symptoms not only were present in their lives, but were relevant to their leadership.”
Ghaemi says a lot of research shows that there are some benefits to mania and depression.