The Zionist Conspiracy
Friday, May 12, 2006
Menachem Begin's Psychiatric Condition
Haaretz's weekend magazine features a long piece about a new book by a clinical psychologist that claims that Menachem Begin was a manic depressive from "early infancy."
While there is much evidence that Begin was severely depressed from his last year as Prime Minister - after the death of his wife and the failures of the Lebanon War - the book's premise that Begin suffered from lifetime mental illness does not appear persuasive.
To be sure, Begin was haunted by the murders of his parents and brother during the Holocaust - and the fact that he had fled Poland in 1939 while they had stayed. And it cannot be disputed that at times Begin behaved erratically. However, at least as likely as mental illness as an explanation for Begin's sadness were the personal losses he had suffered along with the losses of the Jewish people, and the overwhelming burden he imposed on himself as leader of the Irgun and later as Prime Minister of Israel.