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Diagnosis: Tony probably sane

London, Dec. 1: After weeks of speculation about British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s health, he has been given some good news on the medical front: he is probably not mad.

That is the view of Dr Allan Beveridge, a psychiatrist, although he says that without meeting the Prime Minister he cannot be sure.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine today, Dr Beveridge condemns the practice of using psychiatric language as a form of political abuse.

But he says he is entitled to consider whether Blair is mad because several commentators over the past year have questioned the Prime Minister’s sanity.

They have cited his ability to convince himself that he is right and his faith in his ability to achieve the impossible.

His critics say these tendencies were particularly evident in the approach to the Iraq war.

Dr Beveridge says: “There is certainly an analogy between believing in what cannot be demonstrated and delusional thinking, but it does not necessarily follow that they are the same thing. Otherwise one could argue that belief in God was evidence of delusion.”

“It is also hard to agree that great optimism is a sign of madness.”

Dr Beveridge says that at least two writers have accused Blair of being a psychopath, citing his charm, insincerity and talent for drama.

“The most prosaic explanation for these qualities is that he is a lawyer, merely using the tricks of the trade to argue a case,” Dr Beveridge says.

“He has the lawyer’s ability to defend positions without necessarily believing in them.”

Dr Beveridge concludes that claims about Blair’s madness are dubious. But he says that, without interviewing him, the answer must be: “I don’t know.”

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