Armchair Diagnosis

Gloria Squitiro is one unconventional first lady.

She’s from a strange place — Long Island, the inscrutable East. She teaches natural childbirth. And after helping her husband, Mark Funkhouser, become mayor, she went to work with him. She even has a desk at City Hall (though she accepts no salary).

But where does originality end and looniness begin?

The question begs an answer, upon the dissemination of what’s now widely known as “the Christmas letter.” In the couple’s annual holiday greeting, Squitiro described her husband’s first prostate exam in mortifying detail. Media outlets and bloggers posted copies, and the letter zipped around town from friend to friend, borne on e-mails with expressions of horror in their subject lines. Already a controversial subject, Squitiro, in writing the letter, tossed a gas can on the debate about her role in public affairs — and her state of mind. The conversation in many salons, real and virtual, seems to have edged from “I think she’s hurting Mark” to “I think she might be bipolar.”

Here, then, is a compendium of Squitiro’s actions and comments, with possible psychiatric explanations.

Bedside viewing of husband’s invasive medical procedure elicits squeals of delight (“highlight of the year,” “the biggest joy of mine,” “I waited in gleeful anticipation”). Click here for the diagnosis.

Accepts the use of a free hybrid from a local Honda dealer. Defends the decision, saying “regular folks everywhere” told the first couple to keep the car. Click here for the diagnosis.

Totes the memoir of Marjorie Beach, the wife of a Pendergast-era mayor, around City Hall. Click here for the diagnosis.

Asks the chief of police to bodyguard the mayor during his ventures into neighborhoods populated by dark-skinned people. Click here for the diagnosis.

Reportedly calls an African-American aide “Mammy.” Click here for the diagnosis.

Squitiro-written, ostensibly homey newsletter, “Funk’s Front Porch,” takes a defensive stance, bemoaning criticism of what’s happening in the mayor’s office as “the attacks on our family.” Click here for the diagnosis.

Requires express elevator rides to the 29th floor. Click here for the diagnosis.

Has a fear of flying. Click here for the diagnosis.

“I got lucky in my choice of men. But he’s more lucky than I am.” Click here for the diagnosis.

“I just hope I’m not Mary Todd Lincoln, ’cause she went crazy when her kids died.”¹ Click here for the diagnosis.

“So many times, I look at Funk and think, Man, if reincarnation exists, you probably are Abe Lincoln.” Click here for the diagnosis.

In exchange to agreeing to her husband’s run for public office, Squitiro requires Funkhouser to sign oath pledging the rest of his life to her: “He’s mine till he dies.” Click here for the diagnosis.

¹ The superficial similarities between the Lincolns and Funkitiros are actually quite striking. Biographies describe Mary Todd Lincoln as short, voluptuous and expressive — much like Squitiro. And similar to his political hero, Funkhouser is tall, cadaverous and frontiersmanly, having grown up in West Virginia.

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