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The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington
"Of all the post-war presidents none has caused more controversy than Richard Nixon"
 real 56k

Author of The Arrogance of Power, Anthony Summers
"I have simply tried to report the truth"
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Monday, 28 August, 2000, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Nixon 'was on drugs'
Richard Nixon
The new book claims that Nixon suffered from depression
Late US President Richard Nixon was under the influence of mood-altering drugs without prescription for at least part of his term in office, according to revelations published in a new biography.

So bad was the problem, the book says, that at the height of the Vietnam War the then Secretary of Defence, James Schlesinger, ordered military commanders not to react to orders from the White House, unless they were cleared with him or the secretary of state.

The claims appear in The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers, who also alleges that Mr Nixon beat his wife, Patricia, on more than one occasion, once giving her a black eye.

Mr Nixon resigned from office in 1974 over his role in the Watergate scandal, becoming the only sitting US president in history to step down to avoid impeachment.

He died on 22 April, 1994.

Depression

According to the book, Mr Nixon consulted a psychotherapist, Dr Jack Dreyfus, in 1970 after becoming depressed over the hostile public reaction to the bombing of Cambodia.


Richard Nixon never raised a hand to Mrs Nixon. The book contains no evidence, only rumour and second- and third-hand hearsay by the dead

Nixon aide John Taylor
Dr Dreyfus, an enthusiastic user and promoter of the drug Dilantin, told The New York Times that he gave Mr Nixon a bottle of 1,000 capsules of the drug "when his mood wasn't too good", and later gave him a further 1,000.

The psychotherapist said Dilantin, an anti-convulsant used to counter epilectic seizures, was effective in combating "fear, worry, guilt, panic, anger and related emotions, irritability, rage, depression, violent behaviour" and a host of other ailments.

The New York Times quoted a specialist from Cornell University Medical School as saying that Dilantin had potentially serious side effects, such as changed mental status, confusion and loss of memory.

Mr Nixon's family and friends strongly deny that he took mood-altering drugs.

'Marital abuse'

They also deny the claim that the relationship between Mr Nixon and his wife, Patricia, was one of "prolonged marital difficulty, of physical abuse".

John Taylor, Nixon's chief aide in his retirement years and now the director of the Nixon Memorial Library, said: "Richard Nixon never raised a hand to Mrs Nixon.

"Their affection and respect for one another is well known to all who knew them. The book contains no evidence, only rumour and second- and third-hand hearsay by the dead."

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