Obama on the Couch by Justin Frank

58%

18 Critic Reviews

While the text becomes repetitive, it may satisfy readers curious about the psychology of their leadership.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

Even though he’s three years into his term as President, many Americans feel like they don’t know the “real” Barack Obama. From the idealistic campaigner who seemed to share our dreams, and who promised to fulfill our lofty expectations, to pragmatic politician who has repeatedly compromised on the promises of his campaign, it indeed seems as though there are two Obamas. What to make of this? How can the electorate get a better sense of its commander-in-chief, and how can the President more effectively lead a nation in a moment of turmoil and crisis? These questions are of great interest to most Americans, but the questions – and their potential answers – are especially intriguing for a psychiatrist eager to diagnose and help cure the ills that plague our country. Here, Justin Frank, M.D. ,a practicing psychoanalyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller Bush on the Couch - brings a new patient into his office, and the results of his sessions are not only fascinating, but they provide valuable insights that will help readers in their frustrating pursuit of the President’s character.

Obama’s transformation over the course of his brief but incredibly well-examined political career has left some supporters disillusioned and has further frustrated opponents. To explore this change in behavior, and Obama’s seeming inability to manage the response to his actions, Dr. Frank delves into his past, in particular, the President’s turbulent childhood, to paint a portrait of a mixed-race child who experienced identity issues early in life, further complicated by his father’s abandonment. As he addresses everything from Obama’s approach to health care reform, his handling of the Gulf Oil spill, to his Middle East strategies, Dr. Frank argues that the President’s decisions are motivated by inner forces - in particular, he focuses on Obama’s overwhelming need to establish consensus, which can occasionally undermine his personal—and his party’s—objectives. By examining the President’s memoirs, his speeches, and his demeanor in public, Dr. Frank identifies the basis for some of his confusing or self-defeating behavior. Most significantly, he looks at the President’s upbringing and explores the ways in which it has shaped him—and what this means for our nation and its future. 

Obama is a complex and mysterious figure who inspires many questions and great interest from Republicans, Democrats, and from the rabid 24-hour news cycle; this book provides what everyone’s been looking for: an intriguing and provocative assessment of the President’s strengths, weaknesses, and even what could be called his destructive tendencies, ultimately drawing connections that will enable readers to interpret recent history in revealing new ways. 

As Obama’s first term comes to a close, speculation about the future will only grow more intense; Obama on the Couch will give average citizens and pundits alike a way to help all of us anticipate what the President will do next—and what the future of our country might hold.
 

About Justin Frank

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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.
 
Published October 18, 2011 by Free Press. 290 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Biographies & Memoirs, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Obama on the Couch
All: 18 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Below average
on Aug 11 2011

This will hopefully prove helpful in freeing him to confront his internal opposition and rid himself of “father figures” like Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke. Psycho-babble mixed with occasional insight.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Sep 26 2011

While the text becomes repetitive, it may satisfy readers curious about the psychology of their leadership.

Read Full Review of Obama on the Couch | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Vanessa Bush on Oct 15 2011

This is a completely intriguing look at a complicated man, one that will linger as readers observe the president, whether or not they fully buy its psychoanalysis.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Jennifer Bendery on Oct 17 2011

Frank ... spent nearly two years studying Obama's memoirs, speeches and general public demeanor as part of his effort to give insight into who the president really is, something he said many people want to know.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Glenn Altschuler on Oct 23 2011

Obama on the Couch is, to put it mildly, highly speculative. Insufficiently attentive to the evolving political realities Obama confronts, including the rise of the Tea Party and Republican control of the House of Representatives, Frank does not really help us understand his smart, complex and often frustratingly elusive subject.

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The Boston Globe

Below average
Reviewed by Boston Globe on Nov 06 2011

Still, outsized claims are the hallmark of this genre, and Frank’s book is no exception. His argument that Obama’s biracial identity brands him with “a fundamental division that he has been trying to heal for his entire life’’ feels like overreaching.

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Deseret News

Excellent
Reviewed by Waka Tsunoda on Oct 17 2011

One thing is clear: President Obama makes a fascinating subject.

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Mail Online

Below average
Reviewed by Daily Mail UK on Oct 16 2011

Frank's analysis of Obama also stretches to analyse his biracial herritage.

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News Review.

Excellent
Reviewed by Jaime O'Neill on Dec 01 2011

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.

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Psych Central

Below average
Reviewed by Stefan Walters on Jan 01 2012

Rather than a serious psychoanalysis of the president, what we get here is a dense examination of the president’s life, through painstaking review of a huge number of sources.

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OpEdNews

Excellent
Reviewed by Thomas Farrell on Oct 19 2011

Dr. Frank does make an observation that is relevant to considering the questions above when he describes one of Obama's big-sounding speeches.

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Rolling Stone

Excellent
Reviewed by Julian Brooks on Nov 11 2011

A practicing psychoanalyst ... Frank applies the insights and techniques of his trade in an effort to unravel the mysteries and inconsistencies of Barack Obama's character.

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Dissident Voice

Below average
Reviewed by William Manson on May 05 2012

Highly informative and often convincing, the book to my mind is still entirely too sympathetic to Obama

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Illinois Review

Below average
Reviewed by Mark Rhoads on Dec 01 2011

If you're lucky, maybe you've never heard of one Justin Frank, M.D. who pretends to commit psychoanalysis at The George Washington University.

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Buffalo Beast

Below average
Reviewed by Buffalo Beast on Nov 01 2011

The good Doctor has taken a crack at analyzing a human being whose personality isn’t a caricature, in Our Glorious Commander in Hope Barack Obama, and wow does he do a remarkably bad job.

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Old Hickory's Weblog

Good
Reviewed by Bruce Miller on Mar 05 2012

An insightful biography of President Obama. It's written for a general audience, though will be hard going for readers without some familiarity with psychoanalytic terms.

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The Blue Voice

Good
Reviewed by Blue Voice on Mar 04 2012

So even a study like this one with inherently flawed sources material can still provide useful information and insights. And Frank achieves that.

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The Peter Collins Show

Good
Reviewed by Peter Collins on Nov 04 2011

To those who dream that Obama would be much different in his second term, Frank offers a–well–very frank opinion. Your humble host strongly recommends this book.

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Reader Rating for Obama on the Couch
62%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 26 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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