Thursday, December 6, 2007

Getting Inside the Candidates' Heads.

In an article published in the L.A. Times,neuropsychiatrist Dr.Daniel G. Amen suggests that, just as a presidential candidate's physical health can be taken into consideration during an election, a candidate's brain health should be a factor as well. He "want[s] our elected leaders to be some of the "brain healthiest people" in the land." and believes giving the candidates brain scans isn't off limits.
Behaviors such as, "Rudy Giuliani's messy personal life, John McCain's temper and Hillary Clinton's inability to seem authentic" can be evidence of underlying brain dysfunction.
Dr. Amen believes that both President Clinton and President George W. Bush have shown clear brain pathology. He says,
"President Clinton's moral lapses and problems with bad judgment and excitement-seeking behavior -- indicative of problems in the prefrontal cortex -- eventually led to his impeachment and a poisonous political divisiveness in the U.S. The prefrontal cortex houses the brain's supervisor, involved with conscience, forethought, planning, attention span and judgment.
One could argue that our current president's struggles with language and emotional rigidity are symptoms of temporal lobe pathology. The temporal lobes, underneath your temples and behind your eyes, are involved with language, mood stability, reading social cues and emotional flexibility."
If what he says is true....that certain behaviors can show evidence of brain dysfunction ("Sometimes people with messy personal lives have low prefrontal cortex activity associated with poor judgment; sometimes people with temper problems have brain damage and impulse control problems; sometimes people who struggle with authenticity have trouble really seeing things from someone else's perspective."), than we can do as we've always done when choosing a candidate; let's just look at past behavior.That should give a good indication whether or not the person has a problem with "poor judgment", "impulse control problems" or "trouble really seeing things from someone else's perspective". There's really no need to go to such extreme measures as brain scans.

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