Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two Psychiatrists Look at the Bush Administration

A summary by Jack Dresser, Ph.D., with selected excerpts from two books:

Bush on the Couch by Justin A. Frank, M.D.
Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, George Washington University
The Superpower Syndrome by Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Harvard University

Psychiatrist Jerrold Post, M.D., founder of the CIA�s Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior, stated, "the leader who cannot adapt to external realities because he adheres to an internally programmed life script...has displaced his private needs upon the state." **Applied psychoanalysis is a discipline used routinely by intelligence agencies since early in World War II ** to identify such distortions and predict political behavior through psychological profiles of foreign leaders. Although lacking the data of direct doctor-patient interaction, such analyses have far greater external data available to draw upon. Dr. Frank has applied these methods to George W. Bush. Dr. Lifton focuses on the theme of grandiosity and unresolved personal self-doubt projected into our foreign policy.

** Part of special ops/psyops intel TP

A Sense of Entitlement

A lifelong "sense of entitlement" has been exhibited by Mr. Bush, described by Washington psychoanalyst Justin Frank. Dr. Frank has published a comprehensive study of Mr. Bush�s personality, based upon his many public statements, public actions, and the historical record provided by biographers, journalists, and others who have known him well and observed him closely over many years. Specifically, Mr. Bush feels and acts entitled to disregard the laws, rules and expectations governing ordinary people.

This has taken many forms over many years. He did not have to "pay attention" at Yale, to wait his turn in line to gain safety from war in the Texas Air National Guard, to observe the law regarding intoxicated driving, to file required reports on his Harken Energy stock sales with the SEC, or to respect the will of Florida voters. His has become our national outlaw ethic. He disrespects U.S.-signed treaties to reduce global warming and nuclear proliferation, and refuses to support the International Criminal Court. This fits the romanticized American outlaw image, but is an adolescent response to problems needing complex adult solutions.

Violating a principle common to all human societies, Bush entitles himself to lie without guilt. He has misled, misrepresented, and lied outright and continuously throughout his public life. This has been witnessed and described by many observers. There are volumes of documentation by writers of impeccable reliability recounting the Bush practice of saying anything to control the perceptions of others in order to get what he wants.

Bush's Orwellian descriptions that totally misrepresent known facts reveal his perceived exemption even from the laws of reality, suggesting disordered thinking. He also claims exemption from the laws of personal and public accountability. "I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation," he told journalist Bob Woodward.

Aggression and Cruelty

This is a lifelong pattern. As a child, little George blew up frogs with firecrackers inserted into their bodies. Lacking scholastic and athletic abilities, he used unkind teasing in school. In college, he hazed new fraternity pledges with branding irons on the buttocks. As Governor he mocked death-row inmates and smirked at their executions. As a political campaigner, he relies heavily on smug ridicule and mockery of opponents.

The smirk is one of Mr. Bush's characteristic expressions that has worried his political handlers is a telltale indication of sadism. It reveals pleasure in inflicting or observing pain, defeat or discomfort in others while attempting to suppress more overt and unbecoming expressions of his pleasure. He is a profoundly angry, destructive man who, in Dr. Frank�s words, "needs to break things."

Dr. Lifton extends the analysis to the appointees surrounding Bush as well, all of whom avoided Vietnam service. Lifton describes the exaggerated aggression with which people may respond to "death guilt" or "survivor guilt" � the knowledge that facing a common challenge others suffered while you didn't. This is often associated with a sense of "failed enactment" at the moment of truth. When such a wound to self esteem is repressed, it often becomes "transformed into impulses toward further violence." This may well unconsciously haunt our entire tough talking Republican leadership who hid out as young men while others died.

(TP Note: Does the above paragraph describe bush's repressed feelings of guilt for not going to Viet Nam? Does bush in his own feel he is fighting now like the man he wasn't in his youth, in the Iraqi war he created?)

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Easily mistaken for resoluteness, Mr. Bush's impulsiveness, snap decisions, and disinterest in abstractions or complexities are all suggestive of adult ADHD. He is impatient and easily frustrated, with poor control of his emotions. On two known occasions, he has driven his car through property barriers in fits of temper. And of course, the continuing indications of dyslexia: Dr. Frank observes, "He may seem decisive, but his behavior represents the fall-back position of someone trying to manage the anxiety of not being able to think clearly."

Defensive Dyslexia. Mr. Bush has learned to use his legendary difficulties with language to avoid meaningful communication, to obfuscate meanings for tactical concealment. Unable to think and communicate with language in normal ways, he has learned to use it manipulatively � to attack, dismiss, distract and intimidate, to control rather than communicate with others. Most alarming is his genuine inability to think clearly and to develop cognitive models that even remotely match the complex realities for which he is responsible.

Untreated alcoholism.

Mr. Bush displays common characteristics of a "dry drunk," struggling to protect self-esteem and cope with anxiety without the liquid crutch. Symptoms include inflated self-confidence, judgmental intolerance, denial of responsibility, avoidance of introspection, simplistic thinking, and compulsive daily habits that remove him from responsibility and stress. Without treatment, the alcohol is removed without the "ism." Instead, self-esteem is now protected by his born-again Christianity, which permits escape from accountability for his past while avoiding the self-examination and restitution of a 12-step program. Many of his actions are "dry" efforts to reduce anxiety by avoiding his inner world. In Dr. Frank�s words, "Throughout his life, George W. Bush has taken many detours from the path to self-knowledge."

In addition, his annual physical detected nasal spider angiomas that might suggest continued alcohol abuse, and unusually low blood pressure typical of antisocial personality incapable of normal emotional responses.

The Overall Diagnosis: Megalomania

"The evidence suggests that behind Bush�s exterior operates a powerful but obscure delusional system that drives his behavior," concludes Dr. Frank. Omnipotence and grandiosity are clearly reflected in Mr. Bush�s identification with God�s purposes and his flouting of international opinion and international will. Omnipotent fantasy is a self-esteem protecting mechanism from early childhood, outgrown in normal development that Mr. Bush lacked. This childish omnipotence is identified and described by both authors.

Mr. Bush�s personal grandiosity has been projected onto our nation. His megalomanic narcissism and lack of ego boundaries is translated into a vision of superimposing our "Freedom" throughout the world, welcomed or not. Jealousy, a centerpiece of Bush�s psychological struggle since early childhood, is the motive attributed to "the enemy" through projection. The Bush grandiosity fits seamlessly with the neoconservative agenda, which explains Bush�s choice of Cheney as Vice President and neoconservatives Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith to the top three civilian DOD posts, as well as Richard Perls and Elliot Abrams in other key administration posts. After collapse of the Soviet Union, these neoconservatives resurrected the 19th century�s grandiose images of **Manifest Destiny,** the right to impose ourselves on others, that perfectly fits Mr. Bush�s megalomania.

**Manifest Destiny, "ordained by God to rule the world" is the religion of the Yale, Eli, Skull and Crossbones fraternity.** TP

In Dr. Frank�s judgment, "the enterprise he is poised to add to his history of failures is the future of our nation. Our collective denial helped put him in that position...Our sole treatment option � for his benefit and for ours � is to remove president Bush from office... before it is too late."

About the Review and Reviewer

Dr. Dresser is a behavioral scientist who served as an Army psychologist during the Vietnam era. He is not a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst, but feels these are important perspectives for public consideration, has attempted to carefully and concisely summarize their views, and recommends the reader to the works cited. It should be pointed out that Dr. Frank is a Kleinian psychoanalyst, but his observational foci and diagnostic conclusions would be consistent with other theories of psychological developmental as well.


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