Richard Nixon’s secret psychiatric care that could have torpedoed his presidential bid is detailed in new book
Last updated at 8:14 PM on 5th March 2012
It is a secret that could have stopped him becoming president of the United States.
Richard Nixon was secretly seeing a psychiatrist during the height of his political career, a new book has claimed.
The former US president began seeing Dr Arnold Hutschnecker in 1952 with a string of complaints he thought were all in his mind, like back and neck pain and insomnia.
The book claims that Nixon continued seeing the doctor for at least a decade including during the fateful 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.
Author David Robb also reveals that in a foreshadowing of Watergate Nixon once hired a private eye to look into Kennedy’s health.
When Kennedy found this out his father bizarrely asked his friend Frank Sinatra to find the best investigator around so they could do their own digging.
In 1952, the year Nixon sought help from Dr Hutschnecker, he was 39 and vice president of the United States 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 Dr Hutschnecker remained as one of Nixon’s advisers and treated him for stress.
He also advised him how to looker calmer against Kennedy who always retained an air of cool that Nixon found impossible to achieve.
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.
When Kennedy found this out Mr Robb writes that a ‘US-Soviet’ style standoff commenced with Kennedy’s dad Joe arguing that Sinatra could get them a private eye to hit back.
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.
In recent years major events in Nixon’s presidency have been cast in a new light by declassified documents and former aides deciding to speak out.
It recently emerged that he was manipulated into thinking that the FBI was leaking information by ‘Deep Throat’, the FBI source who exposed the Watergate scandal.
Former FBI no.2 Mark Felt fed off Nixon’s paranoia and was appointed to investigate himself as the source of the leaks.
Last year it was reported that the reason Nixon lost out to Kennedy in the key TV debate in the 1960 U.S. election because his opponent played dirty tricks on him.
In the debate, the first time such an event took place in America, Kennedy demanded a ban on candidates wearing make-up – then applied some anyway.
He also made sure the studio was uncomfortably warm so that Nixon, who perspired easily, would sweat and look shifty.