Media diagnose Hillary "Sybil" Clinton with "mood swings," depression, and "multiple personality disorder"

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

In recent days, members of the media asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton displayed "mood swings," "could be depressed," "[r]esembl[ed] someone with multiple personality disorder," and "has turned into Sybil."

Between February 25 and February 27, members of the media asserted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton displayed "mood swings," "could be depressed," "[r]esembl[ed] someone with multiple personality disorder," and "has turned into Sybil," an apparent reference to a book and movie about a woman who developed multiple personality disorder after being severely abused as a child. Asserting in a February 25 National Review Online blog post that Clinton has displayed "erratic, roller-coaster, mood swings these past few weeks," CNBC host Lawrence Kudlow wrote: "Now I'm no psychiatrist, far from it, but I think a simple answer is that Senator Clinton could be depressed." Kudlow added, "Maybe Hillary's taking meds, but they're just not working for her? Could that be why she's always attacking Big Pharma?" In a February 27 New York Times column, Maureen Dowd claimed that Clinton "has turned into Sybil." Dowd added: "We've had Experienced Hillary, Soft Hillary, Hard Hillary, Misty Hillary, Sarcastic Hillary, Joined-at-the-Hip-to-Bill Hillary, Her-Own-Person-Who-Just-Happens-to-Be-Married-to-a-Former-President Hillary, It's-My-Turn Hillary, Cuddly Hillary, Let's-Get-Down-in-the-Dirt-and-Fight-Like-Dogs Hillary. Just as in the White House, when her cascading images and hairstyles became dizzying and unsettling, suggesting that the first lady woke up every day struggling to create a persona, now she seems to think there is a political solution to her problem." On the February 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, commentator Jack Cafferty claimed Clinton "[r]esembl[ed] someone with multiple personality disorder." And on the February 25 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews declared: "I mean, most people have mood swings and attitude swings, which, I have to say in my case, change radically time to time, but to go from basically applauding him [Sen. Barack Obama] as a human being to saying he ought to be ashamed of himself is a wicked turn of tone, I think. But you say what you think." Chicago Tribune reporter Jill Zuckman responded: "It comes across as a little schizophrenic."

As Media Matters for America has documented, in her 2007 book The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton (Regnery Publishing), Republican strategist Bay Buchanan suggested that Clinton may have a disorder "involving narcissistic personality style" and was quoted in an article on the book as saying, "[W]e are talking about a clinical condition that could make her [Clinton] dangerously ill-suited to become President and Commander-in-Chief."

Additionally, as Media Matters documented in 2004, following a speech in which former Vice President Al Gore called for the resignation of six top Bush administration officials, pundits claimed that Gore "has gone off his lithium again," that "half the country thinks he's a mental patient," that he "is insane" and "needs medication," and "that if he is already on medication, his doctors need to adjust it or change it entirely."

Kudlow's February 25 blog post, headlined "Hillary's Mental Roller Coaster":

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed Hillary's erratic, roller-coaster, mood swings these past few weeks?

She's all over the map. Irritable and angry. Manic. Pessimistic and sad. One minute she's shedding tears, the next minute she's shouting and attacking, then she's sarcastically ripping on Obama, and on and on it goes.

So, is Hillary depressed?

Now I'm no psychiatrist, far from it, but I think a simple answer is that Senator Clinton could be depressed. She seems deflated. Down in the dumps.

Look, depression is a serious problem. It's also a multibillion-dollar business. Three of the more popular drugs in the market today to treat it are Pfizer's Zoloft, Eli Lilly's Prozac, and GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil. Maybe Hillary's taking meds, but they're just not working for her? Could that be why she's always attacking Big Pharma?

From Dowd's February 27 New York Times column:

After saying she found her "voice" in New Hampshire, she has turned into Sybil. We've had Experienced Hillary, Soft Hillary, Hard Hillary, Misty Hillary, Sarcastic Hillary, Joined-at-the-Hip-to-Bill Hillary, Her-Own-Person-Who-Just-Happens-to-Be-Married-to-a-Former-President Hillary, It's-My-Turn Hillary, Cuddly Hillary, Let's-Get-Down-in-the-Dirt-and-Fight-Like-Dogs Hillary.

Just as in the White House, when her cascading images and hairstyles became dizzying and unsettling, suggesting that the first lady woke up every day struggling to create a persona, now she seems to think there is a political solution to her problem. If she can only change this or that about her persona, or tear down this or that about Obama's. But the whirlwind of changes and charges gets wearing.

From the February 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

CAFFERTY: Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her when it comes to that debate tonight in Cleveland, Ohio. If she has any hope of closing the gap on front-runner Barack Obama next Tuesday in Texas and Ohio, Clinton's got to deliver a big night tonight, a really big night.

The question is, which Hillary Clinton's going to show up? In the last few days, we've just about seen it all. At Thursday's debate in Austin, Texas, Clinton showed a softer side, saying that she was honored to be there with Barack Obama. A couple of days later, she morphed into a scolding mother, talking down to a child, waving her finger and saying, "Shame on you, Barack Obama." She called him out, demanding that he meet her in Ohio for a debate on his tactics and behavior in the campaign.

She wasn't finished. Resembling someone with multiple personality disorder, last Sunday, Clinton mocked Obama, derided his calls for unity. She made fun of him, as though his 11 straight victories in the primaries meant nothing.

From the February 25 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Let me, Chrystia, to start with this, and then I want to go to Jill and then Susan [Page, USA Today Washington bureau chief]. What is Senator Clinton's endgame here that seems to have started on Saturday? Telling Barack Obama because of some literature he's put out in Ohio that he ought to be ashamed of himself. Very strong language. What is up?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND (Financial Times managing editor): Well, we did see a really interesting change over the weekend. You know, and if you think about the Texas debates, where she was almost valedictorian, quite gentle, quite elegiac in how she treated Senator Obama, and then over the weekend, we saw two new tones.

MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at this two tone here, both the one on Thursday, then the one on Saturday.

CLINTON [video clip]: And, you know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored -- I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. [video break] Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public.

MATTHEWS: Jill, what do we make of that? I mean, most people have mood swings and attitude swings, which, I have to say in my case, change radically time to time, but to go from basically applauding him as a human being to saying he ought to be ashamed of himself is a wicked turn of tone, I think. But you say what you think.

ZUCKMAN: It comes across as a little schizophrenic. I think that the Clinton campaign is trying everything they can possibly try to stop his momentum. And I think the other thing is, he is going on offense against Senator Clinton when it comes to NAFTA. In Ohio, a state that's been so badly hurt by the loss of manufacturing jobs, NAFTA's a four-letter word, and if you let that concept take hold, that you're for that, then you're in deep trouble.

I mean, she's only up at this point by about 11 points, compared to 20 points maybe a week ago. So, she's got to do everything she can to hold on to that.

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