Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The politics of presidential medical care: The case of John F. Kennedy

  • Rose McDermott (a1)
Abstract

Political concerns often compromise the delivery of high quality medical care in ways that can be both problematic and dangerous for political leaders. President John F. Kennedy's medical care offers a particularly rich exposition of the many ways in which these dynamics can play out and how additional factors can complicate matters, such as when the patient is himself duplicitous, when family members try to intervene in care, and when public exposure risks political future. This article examines the politics and management of Kennedy's medical conditions by the various physicians involved in his care and explores how these considerations may have compromised not only the quality of his care but, in turn, exerted an influence on his behavior. This happened not only through the downstream effect of his treatment on his thoughts and behavior but also through the tremendous allocation of time and attention that his care required—attention a healthier man would have been able to direct toward problems of greater national concern.

Copyright
References
Hide All
1. Post, Jerrold and Robins, Robert, When Illness Strikes the Leader (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993).
2. Dallek, Robert, Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House (New York: Harper Perennial, 2013); Dallek, Robert, John K. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life, 1917-1963 (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2003); Dallek, Robert, “The medical ordeals of JFK,” Atlantic Monthly, December 2002, 290(5): 49-61; Gilbert, Robert, The Mortal Presidency (New York: Fordham University Press, 1998).
3. Blair, Joan and Blair, Clay, The Search for J.F.K. (New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1976).
4. McDermott, Rose, Presidential Leadership, Illness and Decision Making (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
5. Travell, Janet, Oral History (Boston, MA: John F. Kennedy Library, 1966).
6. Lundy, John S., Essex, Hiram E., and Kernohan, James W., “Experiments with anesthetics: IV. Lesions produced in the spinal cord of dogs by a dose of procaine hydrochloride sufficient to cause permanent and fatal paralysis,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1933, 101(20), 15461550.
7. Kennedy, John K.Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Mass. All references come from the JFK Personal Papers (hereafter JFK papers), Box 45.
8. JFK papers, Box 48.
9. JFK papers, Box 48.
10. JFK papers, Box 48.
11. JFK papers, Box 48.
12. Learner, Laurence, The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963 (New York: HarperCollins, 2001).
13. Learner, Laurence, “A Kennedy historian assesses the Dallek disclosures,” Boston Globe, November 27, 2002.
14. Travell, , 1966.
15. JFK papers, Box 45.
16. JFK papers, Box 48.
17. JFK papers, Box 48.
18. JFK papers, Box 48.
19. JFK papers, Box 48.
20. JFK papers, Box 48.
21. JFK papers, Box 47.
22. JFK papers, Box 48.
23. JFK papers, Box 46.
24. JFK papers, Box 48.
25. Crane, George E. and Chase, Chevy, “Dyskinesia and neuroleptics,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 1968, 19(6): 700703.
26. Lertzman, Richard A. and Birnes, William J., Dr. Feelgood: The Shocking Story of the Doctor Who May Have Changed History by Treating and Drugging JFK, Marilyn, Elvis, and Other Prominent Figures (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013).
27. Rensberger, B., “Amphetamines used by a physician to lift moods of famous patients,” New York Times, December 4, 1972, p. 34.
28. Reeves, Richard, President Kennedy: Profile of Power (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993).
29. Dallek, , 2003.
30. Quoted inLeamer, , 2002.
31. JFK Papers, Box 48.
32. McDermott, , 2007.
33. Gilbert, Robert E., “The contemporary presidency—The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Recommendations and deliberations of the Working Group on Presidential Disability,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2003, 33(4): 877888.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics and the Life Sciences
  • ISSN: 0730-9384
  • EISSN: 1471-5457
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 17 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 161 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.