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Does Newt Gingrich Have Bipolar Disorder?

Dec 28 2011 | Comments 12

UPDATE: I go into this a bit further over at the Philly Post. Check it out, and thanks for your comments.

In today’s Daily Beast, Gail Sheehy writes about the exhaustive interviews she did with Newt Gingrich and his family members some years ago in preparation for a Vanity Fair article. Newt’s mother was living in Dauphin, Pa., at the time, and confessed to Sheehy that her son had a rough childhood—one she called “a heck of a mess.”

Newt’s was a rootless boyhood as his stepfather’s military career moved the family around the U.S. and abroad. His mother became more and more emotionally fragile. How did she survive? I asked Kit Gingrich.

“I almost didn’t,” she blurted out. “I had manic-depressive illness.”

“Oh, sure. My life was moving from one post to another and another doctor and more medicine,” she told me. “You name it,” she said, referring to all the medications she was given for bipolar disorder, “and I was on it.” When a new doctor took her off all medication, she said, “I almost fell apart.” Bob Gingrich was furious and demanded that she be medicated again. But in that brief window of clarity, she told me, she saw him with new eyes. “Bob is a tyrant,” she declared. “No question about it.”

Oddly, though Sheehy questions the impact that Bob (and Newt’s biological father) had on the politician, she goes on to say:

His mother’s legacy of manic-depression may be even more relevant. The condition is inherited in about 80 percent of cases. I asked Gingrich if he thought he had a genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder. He didn’t blink. He said he didn’t know, then applauded the special powers of leaders who are thought to have been bipolar.

“Churchill had what he called his ‘black dog,’” he said. “Lincoln had long periods of depression. You go down the list …” He speculated that leaders who are able to think on several levels at once may have a different biochemical makeup. “You have to have a genetic toughness just to take the beating,” he concluded.

Bizarrely, Sheehy spends the rest of the article essentially arguing that Newt may, in fact, have bipolar disorder. It’s pretty ridiculous and borderline offensive. She even quotes Frederick Goodwin, who should be ashamed of himself for stooping this low, as saying, “Gingrich’s quickness, his ability to pick things up quickly, is consistent with studies of first-degree relatives of manic-depressives.”

It’s veiled character assassination. I dislike Newt Gingrich very much, but political careers have been torpedoed by accusations of mental illness. Is that Sheehy’s agenda? I wonder if she’d treat a liberal politician the same way.


liz | 2:23 PM | bipolar disorder, politics, kit gingrich bipolar disorder, newt gingrich bipolar disorder

evelyn porter Says:

I think it’s a possibility….having known several people with the condition, it occurred to me that Newt has the signs of the disease. It isn’t political or character-assassination, it’s a genuine question.

Jan 13 12:47 PM

Tabitha Says:

After reading about Newt, his history with his wives, his history as a politician, among other things I googled the question “Does Newt Gingrich have bipolar disorder?” If I came to ask the question I am sure many others will as well. It is a fact that bipolar disorder is the most hereditary mental illness so learning that his mother suffers from the illness will just strengthen people’s questions. Hopefully, if this is a news event at all, it will bring out much needed advocacy. Treated mental illness does not prevent people from living productive lives and raising successful, happy children. Regardless of whether or not Newt has a mental illness, he has been able to lead a successful life.

Jan 20 7:25 PM

liz Says:

Being bipolar, I recognize traits of this condition, definitely in Newt. These include his rough outbreaks, changeability, and sexual escapades. That doesn’t mean he cannot be a great President. I have been great in my field of education, with a master’s degree now, and 30 yrs. under my belt. I have tremendously helped and taught so many children. Church and Lincoln are both most probably bipolar, and definitely were great men, and great presidents. Medication is important, and hopefully he can use something to keep calmer.

Jan 20 10:16 PM

VJ Says:

Wow – I just googled the exact same thing, and landed here. I too have known a coupla people with bi-polar, and I am really wondering if it fits him. I hold my breath that any minute he will lose it. The aggression is unreal sometimes.

Jan 22 8:18 PM

Torie Says:

Ha. I ended up here for exactly the same reason. Because we have many family members with bipolar disorder and see the kind of things that sometimes go on, I just googled Newt Gingrich and bipolar.

Jan 23 5:03 AM

Cara White Says:

So do we hold Newt accountable for his actions if he has a mental illness?

Jan 23 6:10 PM

Does It Matter If Newt Gingrich Is Bipolar? | Screw Cable Says:

[...] couple weeks ago I wrote a strongly worded blog post responding to Gail Sheehy’s Daily Beast piece about Newt Gingrich’s family history, in [...]

Jan 24 10:57 AM

Does It Matter If Newt Gingrich Is Bipolar? | Overnight Satellite Says:

[...] couple weeks ago I wrote a strongly worded blog post responding to Gail Sheehy’s Daily Beast piece about Newt Gingrich’s family history, in [...]

Jan 24 10:58 AM

Paris Says:

If so, I would decidely vote in his favor. Our past presidents wasted all their (and ours) time making us believe that they could straighten out all of our vast problems just by voting for them, and us as a people might have been delusional by voting for them. So who are the real ’sick’ ones here? Time to give a possibly affected one the chance here. I think he’s brilliant. And I don’t mind the idea of this handicap, if that’s what it is. He seems to make a lot of sense. Actually he makes more sense than all of them.

Jan 25 2:18 AM

Deb Says:

Wow. I just figured this out myself. If you Google the symptoms of Bi- Polar, these are the words his opponents are using. ” Zany”, “Is this the Angry Newt” The story about him doodling himself as the center of the universe. The story about Tiffany’s. Classic Bi-Polar. This is what Nancy Pelosi knows I guarantee it.
I for one would not want a President who had a mental disorder to have his finger on the button at any given moment. I don’t want to believe it cuz Romney is a liberal but I know this is what Nancy knows. We still got Santorum…

Jan 29 3:32 PM

dmax Says:

I don’t think I’d contend that his infidelity is conclusive proof of hypersexuality, but it’s consistent with it.
Improper purchasing? How about a revolving account at Tiffany’s?
Grandiose ideas? Thinking that, despite his political history, he can be President and put a colony on the moon.
This isn’t a difficult diagnosis to consider, is it?

Mar 16 3:51 PM

Alaskan Girl Says:

He has an account at Tiffany’s, but it is in good order. That is like attacking someone for having good credit.

Further, even if he does have bi-polar disorder (which I seriously doubt) then he is the most functional bi-polar guy out there. Bi-Polar disorder can be treated. Some amazingly successful people out there ARE Bi-Polar and have come out and talked about it in public. Things like Dyslexia and Bi-Polar are highly treatable, and to continue this thread as it is some kind of obstacle is absurd.

We have had presidents who were OPENLY alcoholic, like Ulysses S. Grant. You are not electing a pope or a priest, but a servant.

Classic Christian behavior, eh? More like a bunch of lobbyists who don’t want Newt in because he will slam the cookie jar (Federal Budget) on their tentacles into Congress.

Our nation will be stuck with “managing the decline” because of people like you who spread terrible lies and shape opinion in a way that is false. Newt was the only guy who understood how to fix the budget and enhance the revenue stream of the US to save us from Europe. Shame on all of you.

Jul 27 6:59 PM

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