A First Rate Madness : Uncovering The Links Between Leadership And Mental Health
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A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Health
By Nassir Ghaemi
Inverse Law of Sanity:
“This book argues that in at least one vitally important circumstance insanity produces good results and sanity is a problem. In times of crisis, we are better off being led by mentally ill leaders than mentally normal ones.” (Pg. 3, intro)
Dr. Ghaemi attempts to draw a connection between leadership and mental illness in his book, A First-Rate Madness. He uses historical figures as case studies to support his conclusions on the benefits of mental illness, in specific, depression and mania. He observes four qualities supposedly derived from mental illness: realism, resilience, empathy, and creativity; these elements apparently “promote crisis leadership.” The historical figures discussed include General William Sherman, Ted Turner, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, among other less significant cases.
Dr. Ghaemi asserts that his approach is not psychohistory – a discredited field of psychology (he also actively refutes any association with Freud’s psychoanalytic approach). Instead, he claims that he uses historical case studies, evaluates their sickness, and then derives his support from the cases. In diagnosing historical figures, he uses symptoms, genetics, course of illness, and treatment as guidelines. For many of these cases, Dr. Ghaemi pieces information