Enigma of Lenin's illness Academic Article uri icon


  • A difficult problem that arises periodically involves the physical and psychological problems of political leaders. Unlike the ordinary person, where the presence of physical or psychiatric disability that interferes with functioning will be revealed and will result in suspension from work responsibilities (e.g. pilot, bus driver, physician), the situation is different with regard to political leaders. Concerning the latter, the information may remain concealed because it is conceived of as stigmatizing, e.g., mental illness, and sexual disorder. The result of hiding such information is that sick leaders may continue to hold their positions of vast power in spite of their disability. Examples of world leaders who suffered from sustained disability as a result of incapacitating neurological or psychiatric illnesses, physical problems or medication effects include Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and Conrad Adenauer. In the present article we will discuss in detail Lenins severe illness--whose differential diagnosis and real facts were kept hidden from the public--and the consequences of this cover-up.

publication date

  • January 1, 2002