Sunday 19 November 2017

Ted Kennedy was an alcoholic with post-traumatic stress, says son

Patrick Kennedy, son of the late US politician Ted Kennedy
Patrick Kennedy, son of the late US politician Ted Kennedy
Former US Democratic senator Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy
Adam Cullen

Adam Cullen

The son of Edward 'Ted' Kennedy has said his father was an alcoholic who tirelessly battled with his mental health and addiction.

In a sensational new book, Patrick Kennedy (48) reveals that the widely loved politician "self-medicated" and never fully recovered from the assassinations of his two brothers, President John F Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy.

The tell-all tome penned by the former congressman tells of how Ted Kennedy struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following the murders. In an extract from his book, 'A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction', Patrick Kennedy writes: "I can now see my father suffered from PTSD."

Patrick Kennedy reveals that his father "denied himself treatment" and often took matters into his own hands.

"He had chronic pain from a back injury he received in a small plane crash in 1964 when he was a very young senator," writes Patrick.

"He denied himself treatment and he sometimes self-medicated in other ways."

Concerned by the senator's drinking, the family tried to stage an intervention in 1991.

However, according to the book, the process did not go as planned.

"Dad, we're concerned, we're worried about you, and we think you're drinking too much,'" Patrick recalls he and his tearful siblings saying.

"He took it the exact opposite way we had hoped," he writes.


The senator accused the family of fighting against him and siding with "those people" who didn't understand how difficult his life was.

"I've been seeing a priest," Ted Kennedy allegedly said.

"But you wouldn't know that. If you had bothered to ask me rather than just accusing me, you would have known I'm trying to get help."

With that, Patrick claims, his father got up and walked out of the room.

Patrick, who has also battled with addiction, had a rocky relationship with his father, who died in August 2009 at the age of 77.

He says that at one point their relationship became so bad that his father suggested he no longer stay with him when in Washington.

In 2006, animosity between the pair reached boiling point when Patrick went public with his drink and drug demons in a 'New York Times' article after he had been arrested for crashing into a barrier at the US Capitol.

"He called the article a disaster - the word he always used to describe the most extreme situations," Patrick writes.

"How dare I talk about the family this way? How dare I discuss 'these things' in public? I stood there on the verge of disintegration. I was early in my sobriety and still pretty vulnerable. And I watched my father circulate around the room, talking about the article."

In a more moving passage Patrick, who suffers from bipolar disorder, reveals the contents of a letter written to him by his father in 1980.

Patrick says the letter was penned by his father that year in case he was assassinated during his unsuccessful presidential campaign. But he reveals he did not receive it until after his father's death.

"In it, he talked about how much he loved me, and how I had given him so much love," Patrick writes.

"He said he would never forget the times we went fishing and sailing."

According to Patrick the book, which is released today, has deeply upset and shaken other members of the family whose Irish roots link them to New Ross, Co Wexford.

In an interview with US TV station CBS, Patrick said he expected that there would be "anger" in the family.

"I know how some of them are going to react, they will be angry," he said.

Irish Independent

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