Presidential Illness: A Secret History From Washington to Trump

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Duration 01:00:32

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Jacob M. Appel (MD JD MPH HEC-C DFAPA) is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, where he is Director of Ethics Education in Psychiatry, Assistant Director of the Academy for Medicine and the Humanities, and Medical Director of the Mental Health Clinic at the East Harlem Health Outreach Program. He also teaches graduate students at Albany Medical College’s Alden March Bioethics Institute. Prior to joining the faculty at Mount Sinai, Jacob taught for many years at Brown University and at Yeshiva College, where he was the writer-in-residence. Jacob is the author of five literary novels, ten short story collections, an essay collection, a cozy mystery, a thriller, a volume of poems and a compendium of dilemmas in medical ethics. He is Vice President of the National Book Critics Circle, co-chair of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry’s Committee on Psychiatry & Law, and a Councilor of the New York County Psychiatric Society.


The issue of presidential health has at turns fascinated, concerned and inflamed Americans since the Constitutional Convention. How to address the prospect of an impaired or incapacitated chief executive has arisen repeatedly in Unites States history, and several–including Garfield and Wilson–have been unable to conduct their duties for prolonged periods of time. Others, like Madison, Cleveland, FDR and LBJ, overtly deceived the public as to their health. This lecture will explore the history of presidential illness, focusing on the debates surrounding the medical records of candidates, the diagnosis of politicians from afar, and the scope of the 25th Amendment and related removal mechanisms. As our third-oldest president yields office to our oldest president, never has the subject been more relevant.



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