London: It is a secret that could have stopped Richard Nixon becoming president of the US. He was secretly seeing a psychiatrist during the height of his political career, a new book has claimed. Nixon began seeing Arnold Hutschnecker in 1952 with a string of complaints he thought were all in his mind, like back and neck pain and insomnia, a leading daily has reported.
The book claims that Nixon continued seeing the doctor for at least a decade, including during the 1960 election which he lost to John F Kennedy. Should the disclosures have been made public at the time, it is questionable whether voters would have allowed such an unstable man to become president.
In 1952, the year Nixon sought help from Hutschnecker, he was 39 and vice president of the US under Dwight Eisenhower. Over the coming years he had to weather a political scandal about funding for his expenses, diplomacy in the Far East, Russia, Brazil and Uruguay. He actually served as president for six weeks in 1955 when Eisenhower fell ill with heart problems and won respect because he did not attempt a power grab.
Come the 1960 election Hutschnecker remained as one of Nixon`s advisers and treated him for stress. He also advised him how to look calmer against Kennedy who always retained an air of cool that Nixon found impossible to achieve, the newspaper reported.
Bearing that in mind, Nixon`s attacks on Kennedy now appear breathtakingly hypocritical.
According to the book, called ‘The Gumshoe and the Shrink’, in 1960 Nixon`s team got into offices belonging to two doctors treating Kennedy looking for dirt that he was actually secretly ill.
The plot later deepened when Nixon later attempted to smear Kennedy by leaking to the press the fact that he was suffering from Addison`s disease. Kennedy came under pressure from his aides to respond by revealing that Nixon was seeing a psychiatrist but he refused, a leading daily has said Monday.