from jaspers evening edition today-
Presidential candidates' health is a campaign issue. So what about their brains?
Getting inside their heads ... really inside
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la- ... -rightrail
Three of the last four presidents have shown clear brain pathology. President Reagan's Alzheimer's disease was evident during his second term in office. Nonelected people were covering up his forgetfulness and directing the country's business. Few people knew it, but we had a national crisis. Brain studies have been shown to predict Alzheimer's five to nine years before people have their first symptoms.
President Clinton's moral lapses and problems with bad judgment and excitement-seeking behavior -- indicative of problems in the prefrontal cortex -- eventually led to his impeachment and a poisonous political divisiveness in the U.S. The prefrontal cortex houses the brain's supervisor, involved with conscience, forethought, planning, attention span and judgment.
One could argue that our current president's struggles with language and emotional rigidity are symptoms of temporal lobe pathology. The temporal lobes, underneath your temples and behind your eyes, are involved with language, mood stability, reading social cues and emotional flexibility.
A national leader with brain problems can potentially cost millions of people their lives. Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein give us recent historical examples. Both of Milosevic's parents committed suicide, he had serious bouts of depression and reportedly drank heavily -- all signs that point to brain problems. He was found to be unreasonable and unreliable in negotiations and heartless as a political leader. Hussein was described as paranoid and without empathy, also symptoms pointing to poor brain function. His mother suffered severe bouts of depression and attempted suicide while pregnant with him, which is known to affect a baby's developing brain. He was physically and emotionally abused by his stepfather. All of these stresses must have been involved in shaping his paranoid brain into a mind that could torture dissenters, murder relatives and launch chemical attacks that killed thousands.
Functional scans, such as Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, provide a window into the brain. Doctors can now see healthy or dysfunctional brain patterns, much as we can assess the strength of a heart or measure hormone levels, and recognize trouble. All doctors might not agree on the interpretation, but there is a growing body of scientific literature establishing what these scans mean, such as attention deficit disorder or a predisposition for Alzheimer's.
Perhaps a simple scan can do what we can't do as electors- decide who is fit mentally to run our politics. Hopefully it's not someone psychotic like the leaders that are leading down this road to insanity that we have now, and will find this out before they do unto others what we would never do.
Someone who can read a map to sanity would be an improvement- lets give them a SPECT scan before they can assume power.