IS GINGRICH MENTALLY ILL? YEAH, I SUSPECT HE IS
Jacob Weisberg thinks Newt Gingrich may be clinically manic. I strongly suspect Weisberg is on to something:
Without medical records that he hasn’t released, we can't know whether Gingrich may have inherited his mother's manic depression. Nevertheless, one observes in the former House Speaker certain symptoms -- bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, racing thoughts, spending sprees -- that go beyond the ordinary politician's normal narcissism.
One possibility is that Newt suffers, and benefits from, the milder affliction of hypomania.... John D. Gartner, a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, ... writes: "Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence, and really big ideas. They think, talk, move, and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions 'just doesn't get it.'" ...
The most vivid image of Newt's Messiah complex came out of the GOPAC scandal.... In its final report, the Ethics Committee appended internal GOPAC documents, including some of Newt's handwritten notes from the period leading up to his big 1994 victory....
The notes are nuts -- self-aggrandizing and overcaffeinated. You can see them here.
There are cosmological renderings, with Newt, as the central "System Designer," warming the radiating orbits of his staff, supporters, constituents, and the public. There are crazed lists of things to do, like get more exercise, watch his diet, and "articulate the vision of civilizing humanity and recivilizing all Americans."
Hold that thought -- to-do lists that have grandiose plans alternating with mundane thoughts of getting more exercise? I'm reminded of a book I read years ago: Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania by Andy Behrman. Behrman is, as he explains in the book, clinically manic -- diagnosed, medicated, the whole megillah. In the memoir, until he arrives at the right kinds of treatment, he starts and quits jobs, travels on whims, has impulsive sex with a lot of different men and women, and eventually becomes an art forger.
And he begins the book with a to-do list that's rather similar to Gingrich's in its mix of the grandiose and the mundane (click to enlarge):
Gingrich's version leaps from
5. Define, plan and begin to organize the movement for civilization and the effort to transform our welfare state into an opportunity society to help people achieve productivity, responsibility, and safety so they can achieve prosperity and freedom so they can pursue happiness (task 3, 5, 8)
6. Diet, exercise, recreational renewal with Marianne (task 9)
Yeah, I'd say if Andy Behrman is clinically manic, so is Gingrich.