I’m feeling bad for President Obama these days. So much stress—and possibly no therapy. How does someone in his position manage it all? Has there ever been a president in therapy?
At a professional forum in 1999, Kitty Dukakis, social worker and wife of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, reportedly stated, “If you’re running for public office and expect to be elected, forget about letting it be known that you’ve been in therapy. It’s a tragedy that it’s come to this.” Moreover, she was grateful her husband didn’t get to become the president, as it enabled her—as the wife of a politician—to seek treatment for her addictions.
Has much changed since then? Has anything? Has any politician at a higher level ever admitted to being in therapy while in office?
My own internet research came up almost empty. The exception? It turns out there was a U.S. president who consulted a psychiatrist during office—he was fictional, however.
On the TV series The West Wing that aired from 1999-2006, Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet saw Dr. Stanley Keyworth, played by Adam Arkin. At least once, possibly more.
In the story represented in the clip below, Bartlet has experienced a serious bout of insomnia following a conversation he’d had with staffer Toby about his abusive father, who’s deceased. Toby had suggested that Bartlet had never felt his father’s approval and thus still might be seeking it via winning votes.
I think it’s an interesting take on what it could be like to be a U.S. president in therapy: