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Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President Hardcover – October 18, 2011

3.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Wonder why President Obama can’t fight back? The answer is in this compelling book. Dr. Frank unravels the tragic flaw within a tightly woven man whose unexpressed rage toward both his parents has neutered him as a leader. Aware of his own capacity for destructiveness, he cannot allow himself to retaliate against opponents bent on crushing his Presidency. Pass on this book to his advisers. It could lift him out of depression and free him to expose the fractures threatening our country and heal our national split before it is too late.”
--Gail Sheehy, author of Passages and Understanding Men’s Passages

“Dr. Justin Frank’s brilliant use of psychoanalytic categories to unravel the mystery and enigma of President Barack Obama should be read by every American. For years we have puzzled over how the president elected on a promise of ‘change we can believe in’ could have become the Democrat who capitulated to most Republican demands—while abandoning and denouncing his political base rather than fighting for the needs of the environment, the middle class, the poor, the immigrants, and the powerless. Obama on the Couch demonstrates why this pattern is for our president a necessary response to his own inner needs. Nuanced and measured, Dr. Frank’s book is a major contribution to contemporary political analysis.”
--Rabbi Michael Lerner, founding editor of Tikkun

“An analyst who can coin phrases like ”obsessive bipartisan disorder” to describe our President is a pleasure to read. But what makes Obama on the Couch an important book is Justin Frank’s ability to dive deep into the President’s eloquent writing about his childhood and emerge with fresh and major insights—unacknowledged rage for the mother Obama claims to idolize, unexpressed despair at his abandonment by his stepfather as well as his father. Obama on the Couch is nothing less than a public service.”
--Jesse Kornbluth, HeadButler.com

About the Author

Dr. Justin Frank, a widely-published national expert on psychoanalysis, is a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He also maintains a private practice in marital and family therapy there. His numerous publications and media appearances range from articles in popular magazines—including Marie Claire and Salon.com—to several book chapters and one New York Times-bestselling book, Bush on the Couch (ReganBooks 2004, with revised paperback editions in July, 2005 and October, 2007). While promoting Bush on the Couch, Dr. Frank appeared on television shows including CNN, MSNBC with Tina Brown, and PBS with Tucker Carlson.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451620632
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451620634
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,174,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Langford on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a facinating read. Not only will you get some insights into Barack Obama but you will learn a little about yourself too. Unlike many liberals, I wasn't expecting much in the way of change from Obama. As Dr. Frank points out, the more someone talks about something the more likely it is that he means the opposite. I don't really understand how anyone, regardless of their feelings about Obama, could not enjoy reading this. For my part, it left me feeling much more sympathetic to the man if not to his policies. The chapter on the psychology of the Tea Party people is worth the price of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Because I have long been puzzled by Barack Obama, I decided to read Dr. Justin A. Frank's new book OBAMA ON THE COUCH: INSIDE THE MIND OF THE PRESIDENT (2011). Dr. Frank is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who uses a Freudian model heavily influenced by the work of Melanie Klein. Dr. Frank himself has never met or interviewed President Obama. Nor has Dr. Frank interviewed people who know Obama and/or have worked with him. All of Dr. Frank's information regarding President Obama comes from the public domain, including of course Obama's two autobiographies, two biographies of Obama, and numerous books and articles about Obama.

It turns out that Dr. Frank was an enthusiastic supporter of Candidate Obama in 2008.

In the introduction Dr. Frank raises eleven key questions about President Obama that he plans to address in his book (pages 6-7):

(1) "How does he come across so differently to different people yet remain an enigma to many?"

(2) "How does he attract identification from such a wide variety of people yet leave so many of them disappointed?"

(3) "Why has someone who campaigned for change so often seemed so tentative?"

(4) "What lies behind his exceptional facility with language - and why do his actions so rarely live up to his words?"

(5) "Why is he so driven to compromise, settling for positions that leave so few people genuinely satisfied?"

(6) "Why is he drawn to charismatic, narcissistic men who ultimately let him down?"

(7) "Why does he appear to resist confronting authority figures?"

(8) "What is the source of his famous, Zen-like calm, and how and at what cost does he maintain it?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Justin Frank's Obama on the Couch fulfilled all of my expectations, and then some, after having read his earlier Bush on the Couch. Obviously, Bush and Obama are very different patients, and clearly, Dr. Frank has much greater sympathy towards the current President than he did towards G.W. This makes the book all the more fascinating. He truly takes a loving but rigorously clinical approach to diagnosing the President, drawing extensively upon the President's two memoirs and hundreds of speeches and other public appearances. The unfortunate conclusion that this reader draws from Dr. Frank's analysis is that Mr. Obama is different than what we, the American people, bargained for. If the clinical assessments of the President's quest for a lost father figure, and his sense of rejection by his mother, as well, compel him to suppress a deep anger, and always seek compromise--especially with those who have hurt him--then we are in serious trouble. The depth analysis of the President is all the more compelling and troubling because it is clear, as Dr. Frank admits throughout the book, that he genuinely likes President Obama, and admires his achievements. Yet, as an honest and highly qualified psychiatrist, Dr. Frank cannot avoid identifying some serious personality flaws, that may be the tragic source of Mr. Obama's failure as a President, at the very moment that the nation needs the best qualified leadership in Washington. The book is a well-written, thoroughly gripping volume, and I strongly recommend it for anyone, from anywhere on the political spectrum, who strives to understand what makes Washington--and this President--tick.
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I am one of the millions--at least I assume we are in the millions--who had such high hopes for the presidency of Barack Obama and have been so very disappointed. I have lived long enough to have experienced many presidencies, and in 2008 I truly thought Barack Obama, Jr., would be one of those who would be seen historically as elevated as Washington, Lincoln, and FDR.

As a figure he still intrigues me which is why I have read "Dreams of the Father" and "Audacity of Hope," followed by "Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope" by Nikki Grimes, and most recently the biography of his mother, Janny Scott's "A singular Woman," and that of his father, "The Other Barak" by Sally Jacobs--the latter two which I highly recommend.

So when I heard Dr. Justin Frank, M.D., a national expert on psychoanalysis and clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University, speak about "Obama on the Couch" on an NPR program, I immediately ordered the book--and I am so delighted I did.

I had thought maybe this might be a psycho-babble book--after all Dr. Frank is what he is!--but was delighted to discover that it is not. In other words, one does not need a degree in psychoanalysis to read and understand this book about a man who is in need to a real couch experience--I am referring to our president.

Why did the candidate who took on Hillary Clinton as effectively as he did, turn out to be a president who cannot face his enemies--and they are plentiful as we all know--but instead has a need to always accommodate them? Well, the answer to that is much clearer when one reads this book.

For me it has gelled together what I have read in the other books as well as what I have experienced of Obama as a president.
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