Candidates vying for the presidency already face intense scrutiny from voters, the media and political rivals’ crack opposition research operations — but that’s not enough for one doctor: he demands brain scans.
Dr. Daniel Amen, a neuropsychiatrist and brain-imaging expert, says that scans of the human brain can reveal dysfunction and even predict degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. In an interview with MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson, Amen said that the technology could be used to effectively vet future presidents.
“For years, what I have thought about, talked about, is we should be scanning the brains of presidential candidates,” said Amen. “Because a president with a bad brain can ruin life on earth…I’m sort of tired of presidents who’ve had a bad brain that are not leading the country in a good direction.”
Asked by Carlson if the current electoral process, including presidential primaries, was its own kind of informal “scan,” Amen insisted that taking an actual look at a candidate’s brain was far more telling.
“That certainly gives good information,” he said of the primary process, “but did you know that brain scans can predict five to ten years before people have symptoms whether or not they’re vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease? And several of our candidates are older…I would argue that President Reagan, in his second term, had evidence of memory lapses. And that’s sort of a national crisis.”
Deficiencies in former President Clinton’s thinking — which Amen believes could have lead to the Monica Lewinsky flap — could have also been exposed by such a scan, he says. “President Clinton was known to have issues with judgment and impulse control…that was a very divisive political scandal that came out of, I would say, bad brain function.”
As for President Bush, a Wednesday editorial from Amen in the Los Angeles Times argues that some of the commander-in-chief’s perceived weaknesses may be traced to brain fitness.
“One could argue that our current president’s struggles with language and emotional rigidity are symptoms of temporal lobe pathology,” writes Amen. “The temporal lobes, underneath your temples and behind your eyes, are involved with language, mood stability, reading social cues and emotional flexibility.”
Concludes Amen in the Times, “Ensuring that our president has a healthy brain may be more than an interesting topic of conversation. It can be important information to put into the election equation. A president with brain problems could wreak havoc on the U.S. and the world at large.”