People: The Pope's problem is 'psychological'

THE POPE, says one of his doctors, 'is neither mad nor senile, but in my opinion he is psychologically unwell' as a result of being shot in St Peter's Square in 1981. 'If you are a man who loves peace and you see a bullet coming towards you, the effect of such an attempt is very profound on the psyche, but it is not immediately noticeable,' according to Professor Corrado Manni.

Professor Manni told The European it became clear to him that Pope John Paul was not well when he had insisted on risking his life to visit Sarajevo in early September. The trip was cancelled at the last minute. 'No normal man in his position would have chosen to go to Sarajevo at that moment,' he said. While not believing that the Pope should retire, Professor Manni would like to see him cut back on his workload. The doctor discounted rumours that John Paul was suffering from cancer or Parkinson's disease.

A CHINESE doctor is also speaking out about a famous patient, albeit more harshly. Mao's physician for 21 years, Dr Li Zhisui, says the founder of China's Communist system was a decadent bohemian, and not that nice at all.

'In outer appearance, Mao was very easy going . . . but when you stayed longer with him, you found that he was a merciless tyrant who crushed anybody who disobeyed him,' Dr Li said.

He also was an unprincipled ladies' man who lured numerous women to sleep with him and did not bother to get treatment for venereal disease. Dr Li said the number of women increased and their average ages decreased 'as Mao attempted to add years to his life according to the imperial formula'.

'Mao was a man who had no friends. He saw everybody as a subject, a slave,' he told the New York Times. 'The mistake of those who got purged was to see themselves as equal to him.'

Far from being a hardworking state leader, Mao lived idly, not changing out of his dressing gown for weeks, Dr Li said. He never bathed, but ordered his bodyguards to wipe him down with hot towels. Nor did he attend to dental hygiene, arguing that 'a tiger never brushed his teeth'.

A BLACK felt hat owned by President Francois Mitterrand raised five times as much as a white bikini owned by the supermodel Cindy Crawford at a Paris auction to help raise money for Aids research. The hat fetched 35,000 francs ( pounds 4,180), while Ms Crawford's bikini went for just Fr7,000. The Beavis and Butthead design surely was a turn-off.

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