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Jesse Jackson Jr.'s 'Bipolar Disorder' Should Be Evaluated by Prosecutors

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To paraphrase the late Ronald Reagan, there they go again. Reagan, who used that line in a completely different context against Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984, could not have imagined a time when another Democratic politician would join a list of bad actors in attributing his atrocious behavior to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder.

The latest news on the Jesse Jackson Jr. front is that the former Illinois Congressman's attorneys may attempt to bar federal prosecutors from having their own medical experts evaluate Jackson. This scenario could end up occurring if Jackson's attorneys raise his supposed bipolar disorder as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

As we all recall, Jackson pleaded guilty on federal charges of pilfering for personal use $750,000 in campaign funds. He resigned from Congress this past November.

Jackson could face 46 to 57 months in prison, while his wife, Sandi, a former Chicago alderwoman, could face one to two years after pleading guilty to filing false income taxes.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the former Congressman's attorney Reid Weingarten objected to the possibility of Jackson's being evaluated by the prosecution's experts at the upcoming July 1 sentencing. Weingarten stated that Jackson's mental illness is "not controversial."

That is funny.

If Jackson were so comfortable with his supposed bipolar disorder, if his condition was truly lacking in controversy, then why, as I wrote last year, was his admission of mental illness so "tortured"? Why did Jackson first reveal that he was suffering from "exhaustion," then later "mood disorder," then finally "bipolar disorder"?

While it is possible that Jackson does indeed have such a diagnosis, I am quite skeptical about it and believe that the prosecution should by all means use its own experts in assessing Jackson's condition.

As I wrote last year, it is appalling that so many celebrities including former Rep. Jackson, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Mel Gibson and others have tried to excuse their violent and/or irresponsible acts by citing their supposed bipolar disorder. The reason I keep using the word, "supposed," is because so many of these celebrities have never indicated that they had a mental disorder until after they behaved badly.

At best, they are cowards for failing to reveal their diagnosis long before their criminal or destructive acts. At worst, they are liars too. Either way, they defame those of us who actually have a diagnosis and have never committed a crime, let alone been violent in our lives.

As I have written numerous times before, I was once diagnosed with schizophrenia, a diagnosis that may not have been correct but one that reflected the severity of my psychosis, in which I thought that I was being framed for a series of murders sweeping the nation. It is more likely that my diagnosis is major depression with psychotic features. In any event, I have never been violent in my life. And that is true of the vast majority of people who have been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

Still, as I wrote last year, it never ceases to amaze me that people like Jackson, Kennedy, Gibson and others never admit to having a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or major depression with psychotic features. The reason is obvious. They know that words like "schizo" and "psychotic" have historically terrified everyday citizens, including constituents, whereas "bipolar disorder" and "manic depression" sound relatively palatable and innocuous.

In fact, all of these conditions, when they are legitimate, are severe and can lead to suicide. No one should ever wish to have such a condition. I have tamed my illness, but not before coming close to taking my life in 1997 and 1999, when I had psychotic breaks.

Incidentally, I have met numerous people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses. To the extent that they have ever been violent, it has typically been when they have misread a situation. Rarely have they planned acts of violence, let alone federal crimes. This is another reason why I have my doubts about Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s diagnosis.

Perhaps, I am wrong. Perhaps, I am being overly skeptical. Yet I wonder how the ex-Congressman and his wife could engage in "3,100 illicit transactions," according to federal authorities, as the Sun-Times reported. One mistake is one thing. But 3,100 illegal acts is another.

To cite Bob Dylan, Jackson may just be "another politician pumping out the piss." And federal prosecutors have every right to evaluate him with their own medical experts.