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State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind Hardcover – June 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"This is one of those few books that is a virtual Rosetta stone to understanding how so many Americans are living in an alternative reality." --BuzzFlash

“Bryant Welch makes a fascinating and compelling case that right-wing politics has subverted our democracy by infecting us with a form of national political neurosis. This book unmasks the politics of fear---the deeper chords touched by campaigns that appeal to the dark side.” --Robert Shrum, senior strategist of the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns and author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner

“Bryant Welch was born to write this vitally important and highly readable investigation of how a cadre of ethically challenged political operatives and their religious and journalistic allies have gradually distorted and disabled the minds of ordinary Americans—and have all but crippled the once-extraordinary mind of America. It is not too late for us to reclaim our identity, but we will succeed only if we take to heart the lessons so lucidly laid bare by the remarkable work of this insightful psychologist and experienced political activist.” --Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard Law School  

 “State of Confusion is intense, clear, logical, and striking in its message. It will grab you emotionally and intellectually…the message cannot be missed.…Bryant Welch sees through the smoke and mirrors and offers the only remedy that will place democracy firmly in the grip of the people from whom it is being stolen: the truth.” --Dr. Harold I. Eist, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry, George Washington University, and former president of the American Psychiatric Association

“Dr. Welch is a master of making complex psychological concepts understandable and using them to explain the disturbing political climate of our time. This beautifully written, urgently relevant work should be on the bookshelf of everyone who cares about the survival of American democracy.” --Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., president of the Division of Psychoanalysis, American Psychological Association, and professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology

“[State of Confusion] is a unique and successful effort to understand the machinations of politicians and others who have significant influence on others.…With professional credentials in both law and psychology, Dr. Bryant Welch is ideally suited to raise the issues…fascinating reading.” --Lewis P. Lipsitt, Ph.D., professor of psychology, emeritus, Brown University

About the Author

Bryant Welch, J.D., Ph.D. has more than thirty-five years of experience in law, psychology, and politics. He spent seventeen years in Washington, D.C., where he built the American Psychological Association’s Practice Directorate, and has held faculty appointments at the University of North Carolina and George Washington University. He currently lectures and consults nationally and practices clinical psychology on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where he lives with his wife, Debbie.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312373066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312373061
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Welker, Ph.D. on July 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Bryant Welch's recent book, State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind (2008) Thomas Dunne Books, provides a compelling psychoanalytic framework for understanding the collective mental pathology driven by current sociopolitical machinations. He describes three "battleground psychological states" (paranoia, sexual perplexity and envy) that are manipulated in "gaslighting" the public--duping voters and consumers through the provision of defensive maneuvers that alleviate anxiety and create unquestioning believers in causes benefiting those in power.

Mental dynamics remain in focus throughout Dr. Welch's penetrating analysis, the uniqueness of which stems from his perspicacity, the breadth of his professional experience (psychology, law, and politics) and the intensity of his effort. A personal anecdote in his acknowledgments is illuminating: "My personal mental image while writing the book was to framing a house. What made it especially difficult was the sense that I had to drive every nail with my head." (Page xii)

While reading State of Confusion I remembered that when I decided to major in psychology (during the Nixon Administration, the Vietnam War, post political assassinations) I wanted viable answers to why our nation was so crazy. Forty years later I had all but given up hope that psychology could be of much help countering the formidable power of self-serving politicos and marketers. Reading Bryant Welch's book renewed my hope.

Bryant gives us a practicable framework with which to promote healthier functioning of "The American Mind." I hope the American Psychoanalytic Association takes advantage of this opportunity by supporting and elaborating his ideas, joining him in the arduous task of driving each nail with our heads.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeana on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in -- or just curious about -- how the US got where it now is in Iraq and among the nations of the world, you need to read this book. It explains how the "gaslighters" [Karl Rove, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc] manipulated the minds of American citizens, increasing their vulnerability after 9/11, to make Americans more dependent on "their" brand of reality and to enable their agenda to be achieved. They warped American citizens' ability to "think," and discredited those persons and professions that could foster "clearer" thinking and decision-making. The psychological explanations are invaluable tools for helping readers identify similar on-going manipulations from the current Presidential campaigns. State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Celenza on July 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a highly informative book about how the Bush administration and its right-wing political ideology have created our multiple current crises. Bryant Welch submits his comprehensive knowledge (both broad and deep) of global and domestic conflicts, especially the players within them, to an incisive psychological analysis so that we may understand the oft-times puzzling actions of our leaders. No matter your political persuasion, this is a book for everyone to read - you will have more substance to your arguments with Welch's research and analysis behind them!
Andrea Celenza
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm somewhat perplexed by the string of five-star reviews. Despite agreeing with the author on virtually every point, I do not think this is a very good book. The book lacked depth at certain points, borders on abject ignorance whenever matters of religion are addressed, and consistently lacks in nuance. I also found the book marred by a tendency to engage in psychoanalytic citing of anonymous cases, something that is simply out of place in writing about our current political crises.

I have to confess that as a film buff I was put off at nearly the very beginning, when Welch introduces the notion of "gaslighting" -- a metaphor that is quite apt in discussing the Right's persistent and largely successful attempt to muddy the minds of Americans in thinking about politics -- and talks exclusively of the 1944 Hollywood film starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman that was a remake of a superior 1940 British film starring the great Anton Walbrook, which was itself a film version of the Patrick Hamilton stage play. OK, not mentioning any of this is indicative of the persistent lack of depth I found in the book. No doubt the author wanted to keep things simple (assuming he was aware of the earlier film or play; it is possible that he knows only the later Hollywood version), but throughout the book I found myself wanting to add footnotes. The fact is that I am not sure I learned a single new fact reading the book. Any reader who has read a substantial number of recent books on the state of politics in America will already know everything contained in the book. Many will already have a deeper understanding than can be gained from the book. Though the concept of gaslighting is helpful, it is the only new thing I gained.

I do think the discussion of healthcare was strong.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Big Zee on September 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Bryant Welch is an insightful psychologist and experienced political activist and fast becoming one of the most important new voices in American Journalism today.

His book, State of Confusion calls out the Bush Regime, the possible forthcoming Palin Presidency and the bullies at Fox News for employing the same tactics as the Psy-Ops Strategies imposed by the government in George Orwell's classic book 1984.

The Lee Atwater/Karl Rove/Roger Ailes Psy-ops maneuver is exposed for what it is - and the corporate media (which controls most book reviews) isn't eager to publicize a book that posits that a large segment of the American population (you can find a chunk of them regularly watching FOX News) have been brainwashed, emotionally manipulated, and embedded with a false sense of reality.

Bryant Welch revels why so many Americans are living in an alternative reality created by the demonic Thought Police (Atwater, Rove, Ailes) of the Republican Party. He shows how Americans have been emotionally and psychologically manipulated by a "manufactured reality" of the right wing consortium by using think tanks, public relations spin, advertising techniques, corporate media, psychological tactics, politicians, and twisted religious leaders.

Who can ever forget the "Two Minutes of Hate" in George Orwell's Classic 1984? Every citizen was required to assemble together in front of a large Tele-screen every day so that the government would show videos of our enemies and we were to focus our hate on them and chant slogans for two minutes every day. These slogans are now replaced by Fox News code words such as Prayer.
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