Flanagan believes Harper is prone to depression. “He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia,” he wrote in 2014, “at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.”
This interests me.
There's no shame in suffering from depression - some pretty impressive leaders have done so. Churchill referred to his as the "black dog" and would similarly go into funks that would last for days or more. Abraham Lincoln also dealt with issues of depression.
I think there's more to the story than just this, but there is definitely a great deal about Harper that becomes clear through the lens of his sense of social estrangement and the persona/beliefs that have formed in response to it.
He has never successfully cultivated the social skill of pretending to connect. He has difficulty feigning interest. His associates talk of him sometimes simply turning his back and walking away from them while they are in mid-sentence.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Stephen Harper would gain a great deal as a leader if he were to face his own cognitive reality head-on. Depending on what else is in his mix (but assuming he's not beyond empathy, given his reaction to the Ashley Smith detention tapes), making peace with himself could serve as a catalyst for Harper the Mental Health champion - something he's already flirted with in minor keys over his time in Ottawa.
Imagine a Prime Minister not fixated on defeating those who may challenge him and make his world uncomfortable, but a leader determined to empower and effectively emancipate individuals who struggle with mental illness or alternative cognitive abilities, like autism.
A leader who can look back on a successful career and say "these things define me, but they didn't suppress me, either - they aren't weakness and they can be a strength."
Harper still has an opportunity to define himself as a leader worthy of remembrance, rather than a footnote.
I'd love to see him make the right choice - I'd be supportive if he did.
But then I've no interested in tearing down others or wresting wins. I want everyone to do well.