During the period September 1992 to June 1996 I was a psychotherapy out-patient in the Department of Psychiatry of The George Washington University Medical Center. The department chairman at that time was Jerry M. Wiener, M.D., a nationally-prominent psychiatrist/psychoanalyst who served as president of The American Psychiatric Association as well as The American Psychoanalytical Association.
Dr. Wiener participated in a conference on presidential disability under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a provision that outlines the line of succession in the event of the incapacitation of the President of the United States. The conference was sponsored by The Carter Centre of Emory University, January 26-28, 1995.
The work of the conference was memorialized in a book that addressed the following questions: Who should determine when a United States president is unable to fulfill the office's responsibilities? What political and medical decisions are necessary? This book consists of the proceedings of a series of conferences held by the Working Group on Disability in US Presidents. The Working Group contains medical doctors, politicians, and former administration members, who examine the current implications of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This Amendment establishes the causes and methods for the removal (either temporary or permanently) of the President of the United States if he/she becomes incapacitated and what the chain-of-command is in the event of his/her removal. The Working Group received a great deal of national attention from these conferences, and its findings and policy recommendations were endorsed by former Presidents Carter and Ford. The implications of the Working Group's findings are currently being debated by the United States Congress. This book is especially pertinent with the recent 2000 Presidential election, as the health of the candidates, as well as their right to privacy, have become public issues.; James Toole, MD is professor of neurology at Wake Forest University; Robert Joynt, MD is professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The contents of the book comprise the following:
Part 1 Introduction, Arthur S. Link; participants; presidential disability - introductory remarks, James F. Toole, sudden incapacitation, Herbert L. Abrams, neurological disorders, James F. Toole and Burton J. Lee, III., behavioural disorders, James M. Post, the medical heritage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hugh E. Evans, discussion, Edwin M. Yoder, Jr.; maintaining presidents' health - President Wilson, Arthur S. Link, the spouse's view, Kathy J. Harriger, taking care of the president -the White House physician, Lawrence C. Mohr, the president's physician, Daniel Ruge, the public's right to know, Thomas G. Wicker, discussion, Kenneth M. Viste, Jr. and Jerry M. Wiener; possible remedies - reform - yes, Bert E. Park, reform - no, Stephen E. Ambrose, discussion, Richard E. Neustadt and Lloyd N. Cutler. Part 2 Wake Forest University, November 10-12, 1995: participants; address, President Gerald S. Ford; introduction, James F. Toole; report on investigating advantages and disadvantages of formalized, standardized contingency plans in cases of disability, Francis I. Kitteridge; report on balancing public disclosure with patient confidentiality, Wayne King; report on the role of the spouse in determining disability and ensuring presidential health, Katy Harringer; report on strengthening the position of the physician to the president and White House medical staff, Howell Smith; discussion; draft summary for future consideration; letters from Daniel Ruge and Jonathan Rhoads. Part 3 The White House, December 1-3, 1996: participants; committee reports; preparation of draft report and recommendations -discussion, consideration of principles, questions and answers; consideration of draft report and recommendations - discussion; adoption of principles and consideration of final draft of report and recommendations. Part 4 Report, recommendations and commentaries: participants; recommendations and commentaries; appendices.