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Bush on the Couch Rev Ed: Inside the Mind of the President Paperback – October 23, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Revised ed. edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006143065X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061430657
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gina Pera, Adult ADHD Expert and Author VINE VOICE on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
The reader who keeps an open mind about Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) will find this book an eye-opener and its author incredibly astute and prescient.

Dr. Frank extensively and authoritatively documents his suggestion that Bush has Adult AD/HD. In fact, he does an astounding job linking untreated ADHD symptoms with Bush's lifelong patterns. In so doing, he demonstrates that, when ADHD is not recognized (in the child or the parent), fatal personality flaws might develop from what initially were minor or at least treatable symptoms.

For that reason alone, this book should be at the top of the bestseller list. Bob Woodward's book excellently records the facts of all that's transpired during this administration, but what's missing in his and all the other accounts is the WHY. The pundits always seem so flummoxed as to why Bush has done the things he's done - as if his actions have been deliberate and calculated, not unwitting but troubling neurobehaviors.

I read the first edition when it came out, so my memory is a bit foggy about that version. But I seem to recall that edition as being a more heavily swayed by the psychoanalytic side, which disappointed me. Moreover, psychoanalytic theory too often misses the genetic inheritance; that is, that the child has most likely inherited his or her brain "wiring" from one or both parents. For example, if the mother is narcissistic, did her behavior make the child narcissistic or did the child inherit the neurogenetic tendency to be narcissistic? After all, low empathy is a function of the brain; and narcissism is associated with low empathy. Could anyone witness Bush during Katrina (and many other examples) and not shudder at his obvious lack of empathy?
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Dr. Frank's insights into our tragically flawed, incurious and destructive 43rd president are first rate. This new edition, an easier read than the first, is both penetrating and profound on every page, and the elegant epilogue alone fully justifies the price of the book. It is intriguing to compare this work to GWB's own just released memoir, Decision Points. It seems to me (admittedly as the author of The President's Therapist: And the Secret Intervention to Treat the Alcoholism of George W. Bush) that in denying the facts of his abusive upbringing, "forgetting" that flamboyant huckster Arthur Blessit brought him to Jesus (naming instead rather more acceptable Dr. Billy Graham), and so strenuously asserting, on page one, no less, that not a drop of liquor passed his lips while he was president, Mr. Bush merely confirms Dr. Frank's central thesis that the management of anxiety is the key to understanding the late president's essentially infantile personality. Dr. Frank does an excellent job of dissecting W's use of frat-boy sarcasm as a persistent coping device, permitting him to evade the need to provide serious answers to serious questions. Some readers might argue that Bush On The Couch is insufficiently objective, too much the polemic. Unfortunately, as history will surely judge, the GWB presidency was an American tragedy of such proportions that to attempt to be "fair and balanced" is to fall into a Catch-22 conundrum. Sure, parts of George W.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Whether you love or hate President Bush, or believe or disbelieve the analysis here, this is a serious book about the application of the latest psychoanalytic techniques.

That said, I found many of the author's examples of the President's behavior, just a bit too facile. Most of them could be explained equally as a result of his intense alcoholism or perhaps as a result of a brief but intense cocaine habit, neither of which were dwelled on at any length by the author. Thus the highlight of the book is not so much belief in the author's "psychoanalysis-at-a-distance," as it is in his comprehensive outline of, and use of Melanie Kline's paradigm for psychoanalysis.

As one who did read Dr. Henry Murray's psychoanalysis of Hitler, as well as Valmik Volkan's analyses of Richard Nixon (A Psychobiography of Nixon) and Anthony Storr's excellent Freudian analysis of Sir Winston Churchill, Franz Kafka and Sir Isaac Newton, I can say without a doubt that the tools of a serious psychoanalyst are prominently on display here. The book is worth five stars alone for demonstrating how Kline's psychoanalytic framework is to be put to good professional use.
If he had called his work "psychobiography," instead of "psychoanalysis," I would have felt better about the analysis, and perhaps would have given him a pass.

Giving the author his just due, the outlines for a sound psychoanalysis are certainly in place here, especially in regards to the inconsistent, if not poor parenting received by George Jr., from Barbara and George senior. But as he so carefully notes, that was a function of the pre-Freudian times that they became parents. And while Kline's analysis places a preponderance of weight on developments during the formative years, they are far from the full story.
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