Ethical considerations in psychiatric profiling of political figures

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2002 Sep;25(3):635-46, viii. doi: 10.1016/s0193-953x(02)00011-4.


Questions concerning such matters as the effects of health and alcoholism on Boris Yeltsin's decision making; the mind of the Unabomber; the psychology and decision making of Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who was initially characterized by the US Government as "the madman of the Middle East"; the psychology of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, who were involved in an extended siege with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that ended tragically on April 19, 1993; and, most recently, the psychology of the nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in which they claimed thousands of lives while giving their own, "killing in the name of God," and of their charismatic leader Osama bin Laden have led journalists to turn to social scientists, including psychiatrists, to offer commentary on public figures.

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Famous Persons*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Politics*
  • Psychiatry / ethics*