Obama on the Couch

Justin A. Frank, MD

I’m not one who puts much stock in psychoanalytic theories of human behavior, but there are compelling insights into the 44th president of the United States in this book. Dr. Justin Frank’s earlier book, Bush on the Couch, was roughly the same length as this richly detailed take on Barack Obama, but even the most partisan Republican would have to admit that Obama is a far more complex human being than Bush. Part of that complexity is rooted in his divided self—Barack/Barry, black/white—and part of what frustrates his critics on the left may be explained by his attempts to resolve that internal conflict. Reconciling differences has been a theme of Obama’s life, so it’s little wonder that “No Drama” Obama sometimes exhibits a desire for compromise that has driven his more progressive supporters up the wall. And, while the diversity of his background makes him better able to understand a broader range of people and options than his predecessor, it can also make him overly anxious to please, or far too slow to recognize when he is facing a truly intractable foe. It’s apparent in this book that we currently have a national leader who is a pretty decent human being, but Dr. Frank also allows readers to see how the man’s very decency can sometimes stand in the way of him doing what decency may require.