The author of this study, turned into a book already published in many countries, is a true professional in both politics and medicine. It is about David Owen, who in the period 1977-1979 was the Foreign Secretary in the Labor government of James Callaghan in England. Subsequently, he founded his own party, and when he retired from active politics in 1992, he was awarded the title of Lord. For seven years before he was elected to Parliament in the early 1960s, David Owen worked as a doctor in a prestigious London hospital on the banks of the Thames - directly opposite the Houses of Parliament
However, it hardly crossed your mind that there could be such a thing as an occupational disease of politicians. David Owen pays great attention to the so-called Hubris-syndrome. A concept known to few people, originates from the ancient Greek "hubris" and denotes excessive self-confidence, assertiveness, intolerance of criticism, belief in one's own infallibility and almost divine purpose.
All these characteristics are not positive at all, but to what extent can they qualify as a disease?
“Hubris syndrome is a relatively new concept in science and has not yet been definitively recognized as a disease. But I hope it happens. It's been five years since I've been writing about this syndrome in specialized medical journals, publishing books, giving talks, writing more and more materials on this topic. Therefore, it becomes a subject of scientific discussions in medical circles at an increasingly high level. I still leave open the question of whether hubris syndrome is a disease or not, but it is the syndrome of power, it is what the philosopher Bertrand Russell called the "intoxication of power". For some people, it becomes an inevitable companion of power. We must know about it, we must sharpen our attention at every manifestation of its first symptoms. Because politicians often suffer from it, quite often I would say. As well as all those who have power - businessmen, financiers, even senior military officers."
Roosevelt suffered from polio and Brezhnev from dementia
"Politicians get sick just like us mere mortals - says Lord Owen in the interview, - and we should not ignore the fact that they are rather older than young". They suffered from various diseases - for example, Franklin Roosevelt was sick with polio, which is why he spent his entire presidency in a wheelchair. However, this disease practically did not affect the clarity of the mind and his ability to make decisions. Which cannot be said about the illness of the "senile" Soviet leader from the first half of the 1980s, which strongly influenced the state of the country - we are talking about Brezhnev. Lord Owen devotes a chapter in his book to both topics.
Hitler took arsenic, amphetamines, cocaine…
"Arrogance" and "Retribution" - that's what the British historian Ian Kershaw called two of his books about Hitler. However, in addition to "hubris", Hitler gave doctors many reasons to doubt his he alth - both physical and mental. "Toward the end of his life, shortly before his suicide, Hitler took a huge amount of various, including and extremely extravagant preparations, which could not possibly have affected his he alth - says David Owen. - Including. arsenic, amphetamines, cocaine, etc. gas mask tablets that contained small doses of strychnine and atropine. Among other things, he developed Parkinson's disease - his left hand was constantly shaking, and from 1943 his speech was impaired. What is interesting, however, is what happened a decade earlier - in the 1930s. It is quite obvious that even then he developed Hubris-Syndrome to an extreme degree. This unshakable self-belief enabled him to captivate the entire German people. We must not forget that he came to power through democratic elections and only then developed paranoia and cruelty," added Owen.
Stalin's pathological paranoia
When it comes to paranoia, the mind turns to another dictator - Stalin - first an ally and then a sworn enemy of Hitler. He had heart problems, he had arteriosclerosis, but the main Stalinist disease, according to Owen, was, of course, paranoia. "This paranoia of his grew more and more and over time it became very difficult to communicate with him," explains Lord Owen. - To one degree or another, paranoia is inherent in all of us, but under Stalin it definitely reached a pathological level. He was extremely suspicious of everything, including and to the doctors. He trusted only his assistant Poskrebyshev, in the past a paramedic, who prescribed him all kinds of tablets and potions. Paranoia was probably always a part of him, but it developed and became especially noticeable after Kirov's assassination in 1934.”, thinks Owen.
Kennedy suffered from kidney disease
Kennedy hid from the public a serious kidney disease - Addison's disease, although it caused him terrible pain, from which he saved himself with narcotics. And he succeeded in that - at the right moments, he really radiated youth and he alth. Particularly characteristic in this sense are his televised debates with Richard Nixon during the presidential election of 1960. Nixon was sweating, pale, exhausted, and emerged as the clear loser against the good-looking, bronzed Kennedy. However, no one realized that this bronze skin pigmentation was a symptom of Addison's disease. Kennedy defeated Nixon by a narrow margin, and many believe that if he had been open and honest then, if he had admitted his illness, he would hardly have won the election."
Yeltsin's Heart Attacks
The first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, did not hide his illnesses - everyone wrote about his heart attacks and heart bypass surgery. Of much greater concern than this, however, was his addiction to alcohol. However, Owen believes that the exacerbation of alcoholism happened because the nitroglycerin stopped working on Yeltsin. But in the end, this did not seriously affect his ability to lead the country. "I well remember this period when he was actually a heavy drinker and I had the opportunity to meet him then and listen to him speak at a reception at the British Prime Minister's country residence. The event was closed to journalists. It was a concise, very clear and precise analysis of the problems facing Russia and the world at that moment," Owen recalled. – This guy was right in the head, I remember saying that to myself at the time. True, to some extent he damaged his own image when he began to conduct the orchestra in Berlin drunk. The Russians could not like such behavior, and it is precisely in this respect that he contrasts with Putin, who skillfully restored in the mass consciousness of his people the image of a leader restoring the national pride and greatness of Russia. It may have been necessary to some extent, but I am convinced that Yeltsin will go down in history as the man who made a radical turn in the history of Russia, putting it on the path of a market economy and democracy. This requires courage and courage, this path was not easy at all, and that is what Yeltsin's legacy will remain".