White House Cases: psychiatric patients and the Secret Service

Am J Psychiatry. 1985 Mar;142(3):308-12. doi: 10.1176/ajp.142.3.308.


Delusional visitors to the White House or other government offices (often seeking a personal audience with the President) are interviewed by the Secret Service and then sent to Saint Elizabeths Hospital if they are considered mentally ill and potentially dangerous to themselves or others. A review of the demographic characteristics and diagnoses of 328 of these "White House Cases" treated at the hospital between 1970 and mid-1974 showed that these patients were most commonly unmarried, white, and male, and most had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Although 22% of this group have threatened some prominent political figure, to date none of this study's patients has attempted to assassinate any such government official.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Delusions / diagnosis
  • Delusions / psychology
  • District of Columbia
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Government*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • Violence*