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In Sickness and In Power

LSE public lecture

The course of world history has been critically shaped by the physical and mental illnesses of heads of state, sometimes in the public eye but usually in secrecy. Long fascinated with the inter-relationship between politics and medicine, David Owen uses his deep knowledge of both to undertake a unique study of illness in Heads of Government during the last 100 years. Owen expertly scrutinises such diverse political personalities as Sir Anthony Eden at the time of Suez in 1956; John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961; the last Shah of Iran; and President Mitterrand of France who suffered from prostate cancer. Lord Owen also focuses on the "intoxication of power" and hubristic behaviour in such leaders as David Lloyd George and Margaret Thatcher and in particular President Bush and Tony Blair. Lord Owen outlines some of the safeguards that society needs to address as a consequence of illness in heads of government.

David Owen was British Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister James Callaghan from 1977 to 1979. He co-founded the Social Democratic Party in 1981 and led it from 1983 to 1990. As EU negotiator, he collaborated with Cyrus Vance, former US Secretary of State, to put forward the Vance-Owen Peace Plan for Bosnia in 1993. He is currently Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and sits as a crossbencher in the House of Lords. Before entering politics, he practiced as a clinical neurologist and psychiatrist at St. Thomas' Hospital in London. He is the author of many books, most recently In Sickness and in Power: illness in heads of government during the last 100 years (Methuen Publishing, April 2008).


Lord Owen | talks
Professor Peter Hennessy | talks | www


Date and Time:

27 October 2008 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Old Theatre, London School of Economics & Political Science
Houghton St

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Organised by:

London School of Economics & Political Science
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Available from:

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For more information, email events@lse.ac.uk or phone 020 7955 6043.

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