Science Subjects: Dementia; Narcissism in US Presidents

June 29, 2021

Outside the normal news cycle this afternoon, a couple of interesting science/health items caught my eye earlier as I was close-to-normal-constantly Doomscrolling the InterWebs, seeing them created a curiosity as one could apply to me personally, the other to this country.
And of course, I’m involved with both.

Initially this bothered me because of my age (72.5 years-old):

My mother had Alzheimer’s disease (she passed in 1999), but she is/was the only close relative to have dementia that I know of, and as the following explains, that in itself could be serious. Not enough of us are being tested for dementia.
As new study reported last week by Michigan News at the University of Michigan:

Only one in 10 older adults in a large national survey who were found to have cognitive impairment consistent with dementia reported a formal medical diagnosis of the condition.

Using data from the Health and Retirement Study to develop a nationally representative sample of roughly 6 million Americans age 65 or older, researchers at the University of Michigan, North Dakota State University and Ohio University found that 91-percent of people with cognitive impairment consistent with dementia told questioners they did not have a formal medical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

“(The discrepancy) was higher than I was expecting,” said Sheria Robinson-Lane, study co-author and assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing.

Go Read the whole article — and as always, race/gender somewhat critical as non-Hispanic Blacks had a higher estimated prevalence (93-percent) of no reported diagnosis, as did males (99.7-percent) compared to females (90.2-percent).

I’ll get tested next doctor’s visit.
Meanwhile, if I can’t make it to the doc’s office, I can maybe visit an online site where I can be detected for dementia built by some Canadian scientists/technicians — via CTV News last Sunday:

The Dementia Population Risk Tool (DemPoRT) was developed by researchers from the Ottawa Hospital, the University of Ottawa, and the Bruyère Research Institute and ICES.
It’s an online questionnaire for people over the age of 55 that asks about their health, lifestyle and sociodemographic information, and predicts how at-risk they are of developing dementia later in life.

Some of the factors that DemPoRT looks at include age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical exercise, existing health conditions and languages spoken.

“What sets this dementia risk calculator apart is that you don’t need to visit a doctor for any tests,” said lead study author Dr. Stacey Fisher in a news release.

DemPoRT also looks at demographic factors, such as education, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, marital status and immigration status.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it clear that sociodemographic variables like ethnicity and neighbourhood play a major role in our health,” said Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, senior author of the study, in a news release.
“It was important to include those variables in the tool so policy makers can understand how different populations are impacted by dementia, and help ensure that any prevention strategies are equitable.”

The calculator can be found at ProjectBiglife.

And in another pointed-study of a mental-problem, this time, narcissism in US presidents:

Although T-Rump wasn’t mentioned in the research, he would have been the worse — a mean, nasty, self-centered narcissist (double definition, there), but we dodged a bullet with him. The analysis published earlier this month at International Studies Quarterly.
Background/details of the study at Ohio State News yesterday:

Results showed that of the presidents measured, those highest in narcissism — including Lyndon B. Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon — were about six times more likely to initiate a dispute with another great power in any given year than a president with average levels of narcissism.

The inclination to “go it alone” in international disputes fits with the desire of those high in narcissism to boost their own reputation and self-image and appear tough and competent to others, said John Harden, author of the study and a doctoral student in political science at The Ohio State University.

“More narcissistic U.S. presidents differed from others in how they approached foreign policy and world politics,” Harden said.
“They were more likely to weigh their personal desires more heavily than political survival or the country’s interests when it came to how they handled some disputes.”

Harden studied presidents from 1897 — roughly the time the United States became a great power in the world — through George W. Bush in 2009.
In order to measure presidential narcissism, Harden used a dataset from 2000 created by three researchers to assess the personalities of presidents.
These researchers tapped the knowledge of presidential historians and other experts who had written at least one book on a president.
Each expert completed a personality inventory with more than 200 questions about the president they studied.

Using the personality test results for the 19 presidents from 1897 to 2008, Harden analyzed five facets of the test that relate with a common measure of grandiose narcissism: high levels of assertiveness and excitement-seeking and low levels of modesty, compliance and straightforwardness.

Harden determined those five factors are correlated with narcissism in a separate analysis using a general population sample.

“These facets describe people who want to be in charge, seek the spotlight, brag about their accomplishments and are willing to lie and flatter to get what they want. They certainly would be willing to insult others, too,” Harden said. “So it is a pretty good description of a narcissist.”

Based on these results, Lyndon Johnson was the president who scored highest on narcissism, followed by Teddy Roosevelt and then Richard Nixon.

The president who scored lowest on narcissism was William McKinley, followed by William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge.

“The results are in line with common assessments of the presidents,” Harden said.

Leaders high in narcissism also behave in ways that increase tensions, such as taking actions to project strength. They are willing to accept risks.
They also behave dramatically and send unclear signals, Harden said.

While the public and some political scientists may believe that U.S. presidents act with the best interests of the country at heart, Harden said this study provides evidence that some leaders use their office to make themselves feel powerful and important.

“Leaders high in narcissism don’t want the same things from their position as others do,” Harden said.
“For them, the world truly is a stage.”

T-Rump was way-beyond the draw…

(Illustration out front: M.C Escher’s ‘Three Spheres II,’ found here).

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