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Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President Hardcover – June 15, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060736704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060736705
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,582,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bush Administration policies are not only a "great catastrophe" but the products of a disturbed mind, according to this provocative blend of psychological case-study and partisan polemic. Psychoanalyst Frank sifts through family memoirs, the writings of critics like Al Franken and David Corn and the public record of Bush’s personal idiosyncrasies for clues to the President’s character, interpreting the evidence in the rigidly Freudian framework of child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. He finds that Bush, psychically scarred by an absentee father and a cold, authoritarian mother, has developed a galloping case of megalomania, characterized by a Manichaean worldview, delusions of persecution and omnipotence and an "anal/sadistic" indifference to others’ pain, with removal from office the only "treatment option." The author’s exegesis of Bush’s personality traits-the drinking problem, the bellicose rhetoric, the verbal flailings and misstatements of fact, the religiosity and exercise routines, the hints of dyslexia and hyperactivity, the youthful cruelty to animals and schoolmates, the smirk-paints an intriguing, if exaggerated and contemptuous, portrait of a possibly troubled public figure. But Frank’s attempts to translate psychoanalysis into political analysis are unconvincing. Indeed, if Bush’s reneging on campaign promises is a form of clinical "sadism," and his budget deficits an "unconscious attack on his own parents," then Karl Rove, the Cabinet, and both houses of Congress belong in group therapy with him.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Justin A. Frank, M.D., is a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center. Since 1980 he has been a teaching analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. He is past president of the Greater Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Dr. Frank lives and practices psychoanalysis in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

696 of 760 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm 56, a grown woman descended from a long line of Republicans, including a
multi-term Republican State Senator.
Actually I had voted for a Republican candidate in every
Presidential election since I was 21 years old.
But when George W. Bush was running for President I saw a History Channel
documentary during which one of "W"'s oldest friends was being interviewed. The man
merrily related an anecdote he considered hugely amusing...
To make a long story short, although former First Lady Barbara Bush had
suggested to her new daughter-in-law Laura that it would be unwise to ever
criticize "W", Laura Bush made the mistake of doing just that.
It was during the period of time when Bush was newly entering politics. He gave
a speech that Laura had listened to very carefully.
Driving home from the political rally, George asked his young wife how she
thought he did.
She told him honestly that she didn't think he had done as well as he might
The friend relating the story laughed that Bush was so furious at Laura's criticism
that he drove clean through his back garage wall and right out the other side
of the building.
The friend of George Bush who related the story thought it absolutely hilarious.
I didn't find it the least bit funny.
What I did think, was that it suggested a major character flaw and a horrifying
lack of self control.
And I found the very idea of that kind of flaw in a Presidential candidate to
be very unsettling.
And the idea of a violent, uncontrolled response to nothing more than a minor
criticism left me extremely uncomfortable with the idea of having George W.
Bush at the helm of this country.
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104 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on March 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Without a personal interview, I believe all a psychiatrist can tell about a subject, in most cases, is whether he is alive or dead. But then, there's George Bush. While the author spoke in paradigms I did not understand or accept, he brought up some interesting events and behaviors in the life of George Bush that literally crawl with clues:

The loss of his sister, and not being told she died until after the fact. (Guilt?)

Putting firecrackers up the behinds of bull frogs and lighting the firecracker. (Psychopathic?)

His temper tantrums on the golf course. (Infantile? Can't get his own way.)

Following his mother's advice not to use the same word over and over, he gets a Thesaurus to find another word for tears. He adds to his essay, "The lacerates came streaming down her face." (Learning disability?)

Telling a college professor that the poor are lazy, and wish to remain that way. (Limited thought processes?)

As governor he presided over more executions, more than any other in the state's history. One was a woman who had been domestically abused by her husband for eighteen years. Even prominent religious leaders pleaded on her behalf. George let her die. (Again, psychopathic?)

As governor he received another plea from a murderer to have her execution stayed. He play-acted a woman pleading for her life, to a stunned (conservative) commentator named Tucker Carlson. (Again, really psychopathic?)

His rather simple and linear thinking. Responding to the question why terrorists hate us, he said, "They hate our freedoms." (Inability to think in complex abstracts?)

George cannot read the line: ".... shame on me." The type was quite clear. His inability to admit a mistake.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Ryan M. Moore on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Picture a 7 year-old boy with a 3 year-old sister. Tragically, the 3 year-old sister has just died only a few months after being diagnosed with leukemia. However, the parents never told the boy about his sister's illness; they simply told him not to play with her. The girl dies on a trip to the East Coast that the parents have undertaken in an attempt to find treatment for her. On the day after her death, her parents play golf (!) They attend a small memorial service the next day, but there is no funeral. It seems that the parents have a hard time dealing with death, because 4 years earlier the woman's mother had been killed in a car accident, yet she did not attend her own mother's funeral service. Meanwhile, the boy has no idea his sister is dead, or even that she is sick, until the parents arrive back in Texas and finally break the news to him. In the ensuing months the mother's hair literally turns white, but otherwise the woman whose cold, disciplinarian personality has led her family to label her "The Enforcer" represses all signs of grief. The father is literally absent most of the time as he focuses on his political career.

As he gets older, the boy starts having trouble in school. It's obvious that he has some sort of learning disability and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. But the problems go unacknowledged and untreated because his parents have nothing but contempt for psychology. It's not necessarily that the boy is dumb, it's that he's unable to regulate his negative feelings, and it takes so much effort and manage his overwhelming anxiety that there's no energy left for thinking. He is impulsive and makes snap decisions because he is easily paralyzed by too much information or complexity.

As a young man he starts drinking heavily.
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More About the Author

Justin Frank M.D. is a highly regarded psychoanalyst and teacher. A clinician with more than thirty year's experience, Dr. Frank used the principles of applied psychoanalysis to assemble a comprehensive psychological profile of President George W. Bush in his 2004 New York Times bestselling book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President (HarperCollins). His newest book, Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President is being published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster on October 18, 2011.

Dr. Frank currently writes a biweekly column for He also contributes to, and, and is a frequent writer and speaker on topics as diverse as politics, film, and theater. He is Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, and the co-director of the Metropolitan Center for Object Relations in New York.

Dr. Frank did his psychiatric residency at Harvard Medical School and was chief resident at the Cambridge Hospital. He was also awarded the DuPont-Warren Fellowship by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Frank lives in Washington DC.

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