Clinton's mental state | Arkansas Blog

Monday, July 24, 2006

Clinton's mental state

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2006 at 8:02 AM

We linked earlier to a Brummett column about a visit with John Gartner, a teacher at Johns Hopkins, who's working on a book about Bill Clinton with something of a psychoanalytical bent. Gartner takes exception to the Brummett column. His letter is on the jump. He's not happy.


From the title of your column, "Clinton's mental condition" (which appeared as "Clinton deemed hypomanic" in the Springdale Daily News), the reader might get the mistaken impression that I am suggesting Clinton suffers from a mental disorder, which I am not. From its tone, one might think that I am trivializing the life of a great president whom I deeply respect. You accurately described my previous book, The Hypomanic Edge, about a mildly manic temperament, which is not a mental illness, found among charismatic visionaries in business, politics, religion, and the arts. But you were inaccurate in portraying me as "begging for anecdotes" in order to "advance my theory," implying that my agenda is a reductionistic caricature of Clinton, when he is, in fact, a richly complex larger-than-life individual. Actually, I'm just in the initial stage of my research for this biography. I spent two weeks in Arkansas interviewing dozens of people in order to help me understand the enigmatic Clinton (and I want to thank all those who allowed me to visit with them). This was intended to be the first wave of interviews, but I fear your column will be damaging to my effort to collect more data, because in today's superheated political climate, people will be reluctant to share their stories if they think it's all an excuse to prove a pet theory that could be used to hurt Bill Clinton. To make the matter worse, your column appeared the day President Clinton was back in Little Rock for Win Rockefeller's funeral--not the nicest welcome home present. I really wish you had waited to read my book, instead of trying to write it for me. Then we could have a legitimate on-the-record interview for your column.


John D. Gartner, Ph.D.

Assistant professor of psychiatry Johns Hopkins University Medical School

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