Shrinking W: Is He a Puppet, Fool, or Sadist?

Since W the movie failed to figure out George W. Bush, a psychiatrist who's studied him is giving it a go. Justin Frank, MD, the author of Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, says President Bush is not Dick Cheney's puppet nor is he a well-intentioned fool in over his head but a sadist who will revel in watching the world clean up his mess from his Crawford couch.

Dr. Frank believes the mess Bush has left is the result of giving a destructive personality extraordinary power. He shrinks Bush down to a wounded child, a boy who enjoyed killing frogs who grew into a man — to steal a phrase from everyone's favorite VP candidate — hellbent (unconsciously) on destroying the world. To see what he said, read more.

For Bush, the roots of his bad-boy sadism run deep. As a young boy, he identified with his harsh and often cruel mother (ed., Barbara!), whose inability to provide necessary maternal early nurturing culminated in her withdrawal after George’s young sister’s illness and untimely death. He was a ruthlessly teased, learning-disabled little boy who was criticized by teachers for not being able to keep up in class. And he was left behind by an emotionally distant father who reinforced the message from his mother that it was pathetic for a 7-year-old to show grief about his sister’s death. All of these factors contributed to an unrelenting self-hatred that made him feel weak and ashamed, things he tried to deny by posing as superior, exploiting weakness in others and becoming a bully.

Yesterday we heard President Bush defend his accomplishments (depending on how you look at it) and admit his mistakes at his last press conference. He was charming — but aren't all sociopaths? — and appeared sincere, giving the impression that he never meant to do anything but his job well.

So, who's crazy now?

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