Bipolar Disorder & Despotism: Is There A Link?

An Uneasy Awakening: Bipolar Musings

napoleon hitler stalin

Although published some eighteen years ago, A Brotherhood of Tyrants: Manic Depression & Absolute Power by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb is a book that has only recently come to my attention. I was initially very much intrigued by the central thesis of the book, namely that the unholy trinity of Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin all manifested clear signs of bipolar disorder, and that this underpinned their tyrannical and despotic behaviour.

Drawing on a wide range of literature, Hershman and Lieb make links between their subjects’ lives and behaviour to construct their argument that each case has consistently exhibited manic-depressive symptomology and behaviours.

Notwithstanding the fact that posthumous diagnoses are fraught with difficulties, the data relating to Napoleon renders, at least in my opinion, the most convincing case. The authors make clear links between Napoleon’s mania and depression and his behaviour on the battle field, in addition to erratic…

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