The mental rigours of being US president

Donald Trump is not the first president to be called unhinged, by political enemies and medical professionals alike. But some of his predecessors were manic depressives, bipolar and even psychopathic, say experts.

In the summer of 1776, the American Revolutionary War was going so badly for the rebels that George Washington apparently attempted suicide by redcoat.

As his militiamen fled in panic at Kip’s Bay, Manhattan, the 44-year-old supreme commander lapsed into a catatonic state, according to biographer Ron Chernow.

Washington just sat on horseback staring into space as dozens of British soldiers charged at him across a cornfield.

The future first US president’s aides grabbed the reins of his mount and with some difficulty managed to spirit him to safety.

One of his generals, Nathanael Greene, later said the Virginian was “so vexed at the infamous conduct of his troops that he sought death rather than life”.

Washington’s suspected emotional breakdown illustrates how even the greatest of crisis leaders can snap under pressure.

Fast forward nearly two-and-a-half centuries, and the mental state of his political descendant is under somewhat less forgiving examination.

Presidential psychiatry has been all the rage ever since Donald Trump entered the White…

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