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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 - 10:22:56 PM
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Dementia in World Leaders

Jul 17, 2004 - 10:58:00 PM

[RxPG] If Stalin had taken the trouble to visit a psychiatrist, millions of Russians might have been saved from death in the purges of the early twentieth century.

Delegates at the annual conference learned today that the brutal Russian dictator suffered from dementia following a series of strokes. “This might be an explanation for the florid paranoia, dimming of his superior intellect and the unleashing of his most sadistic personality traits,” said Dr George El-Nimr, a consultant psychiatrist in North Staffordshire.

Dr El-Nimr and his colleagues, Dr Baseem Habeeb at Mersey NHS Trust and Dr Emad Sulib, senior lecturer in psychiatry at Liverpool University, set out to study the possible impact that dementia might have had on seven world leaders. They found, unsurprisingly, that undetected dementia could affect the future of nations – and possibly the world.

Had Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States after the first world war, stepped down after developing vascular dementia, it might have been possible to persuade Congress to ratify the Versailles Treaty, establishing the League of Nations and so averting the second world war. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vascular dementia may have impaired negotiations with Stalin at Yalta at the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s shock resignation in 1976 was said to be the result of his “remarkable awareness” a year earlier of his cognitive deterioration. But the same could not be said for President Ronald Reagan, who died of Alzheimer’s disease, last month. “How much did his early dementia affect his presidency?” asked Dr El-Nimr.

Other leaders cited were Urho Kekkonen of Finland, who developed dementia while in office, and British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald.

Publication: Royal College of Psychiatrists

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