Dr. Ghaemi looks at the careers and personal plights of figures like Sherman, Lincoln, Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr,. What Ghaemi uncovers is that our great heroes were neither “normal” nor were they special in the sense of being better, or more perfect, than the rest of us. They often suffered from mental illness, but these afflictions actually proved beneficial by boosting the very traits they needed to excel as leaders during hard times. In the case of Lincoln and Winston Churchill, depressive realism and empathy helped these men tackle both personal and tremendous national challenges. For General Sherman and Ted Turner, mania proved a catalyst for the design and execution of some of their most creative and successful strategies. Depression built resilience in King and Gandhi.
As Dr. Ghaemi concludes, “We should not be seeking leaders who are like us – our leaders should be different from the norm and possess the qualities that come naturally to those persons with mental illnesses.”