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March 5, 1982

Woodrow Wilson: A Medical and Psychological Biography

JAMA. 1982;247(9):1351. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320340097062

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The personality of Woodrow Wilson has always been a controversial subject, one that prompted a psychological study by Freud himself. Edwin Weinstein, professor of neurology at Mt Sinai Medical School and a fellow of the William Alanson White Institute of Psychoanalysis, has written a superb book analyzing the influence of Wilson's neurological and psychological health on his political life.

Weinstein presents persuasive evidence that Wilson suffered from mixed cerebral dominance, with consequent childhood dyslexia and lifelong difficulties with reading and factual recall, in marked contrast to his mastery of rhetoric and imagery. Wilson's early career as an academic was interrupted by severe bouts of "the blues," headaches, and gastrointestinal disturbances at times of psychic stress. Wilson also suffered from hypertension and cerebral arteriolosclerosis, and experienced his first stroke at age 39, which left his right hand partially paralyzed. Another, larger stroke while president of Princeton University left him blind in