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Word Association; I'll begin: Bush.
September 2, 2003 3:30 AM   Subscribe

George W Bush analysed by psychologist Oliver James.
posted by Blue Stone (35 comments total)

 
I'd be wary of any analysis where the psychologist has not actually spoken to the person being analysed....
posted by PenDevil at 4:09 AM on September 2, 2003


Well, if nothing else, it's interesting. However, the author takes a few dramatic liberties; for instance, I don't think "...staring at his vomit-spattered face in the mirror... is a direct quote from "A Charge To Keep." Or, if it is, I definitely need to pick up that book.
posted by phong3d at 4:36 AM on September 2, 2003


I was wary of posting a Bush-Bashing™ article, but I thought the analysis pointed at something we can generally forget about political leaders/politicians, when we concentrate solely on their political philosophies: that these people (not to mention the rest of us) can be driven by quite simple childhood events, leaving the world spinning in the wake of parental abuse, maltreatment, childhood resentments, etc.

I know that Hitler's childhood (violent father - doting mother) is less-than ignored, but our present-day political leaders aren't generally seeen in this light. Children still raging against their less-than-happy childhoods, transferring their childhood scripts to the world, as we all do, but on a much bigger scale.

Maybe politicians need to be psychologically evaluated and vetted before they get their hands on power?

[PenDevil I doubt Bush would submit to public psychoanalysis.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:53 AM on September 2, 2003


show methe man and I too can make up stuff that explains him....would be a bit more convincing (perhaps) if the other Bush children were also subjected to same analysis to see how they conformed to the pattern. Or differed.
posted by Postroad at 4:56 AM on September 2, 2003


He just doesn't come across as a strong public speaker. At all.
I met Barbara Bush, and in the 45 minutes I spent with her I got to see this attitude! A caring woman, who seemed to not have to take any BS, so she didn't. Should have seen her interacting with the SS guys.. that was maybe 10 years ago or so.

But I would like to say that I think Not All Bushes are Bad. Jeb does good things, and seems to control the floor when speaking. I may not agree with some of his ideals, but hey, that's life.

Jeb comes across a lot better when speaking in public- he can carry himself (while reading). George is just painful to watch, and I can't help but keep thinking of that snafu where he's all "we have a saying in Texas" aggh! oh, so sorry George. so sorry..
posted by shadow45 at 4:57 AM on September 2, 2003


PenDevil I doubt Bush would submit to public psychoanalysis.
I'd guess 99% of the people here wouldn't either.
posted by PenDevil at 5:16 AM on September 2, 2003


"I'd be wary of any analysis where the psychologist has not actually spoken to the person being analysed....
posted by PenDevil at 4:09 AM PST on September 2"

That pretty much sums up this post.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:25 AM on September 2, 2003


This reminds of this site that I read a few years ago. Basically, the first Gulf War was fought because George Bush was beaten as a child and the US felt guilty about the prosperity it experienced throughout the 80's. Who'd have thought it?
posted by chill at 5:42 AM on September 2, 2003


Perhaps these verbal faux-pas are a barely unconscious way of winding up his bullying mother and waving two fingers at his cultured father's sensibility.

Someone who speaks Brit, what is this "waving two fingers" stuff? Which two are being waved? Is this the equivalent of the U.S. middle-finger salute?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:12 AM on September 2, 2003


Middle finger and the one next to the thumb, raised in much the same way as a middle finger salute.

No idea what it means, but the sentiment is pretty similar.

Personally i find that a single finger gets a better reaction.
posted by twine42 at 6:23 AM on September 2, 2003


The two-finger salute: a gesture of defiance, less crude than the single-finger version.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:23 AM on September 2, 2003


Oliver James's book They F*** You Up - How to survive family life is published by Bloomsbury, priced £7.99.
posted by thomcatspike at 6:27 AM on September 2, 2003


The two-fingered salute is the act of raising the index and middle finger in a V-shape, with the other fingers curled into a fist. The palm faces back towards you. It's also known as "flicking the Vs". I can't be arsed to search, but the tradition goes back to English longbowmen. The French used to cut off these two fingers if they captured them during war, so it was customary before a battle to show them you could still draw a bow. At that time English longbowmen were probably the most feared military force at least in Europe.
posted by walrus at 6:28 AM on September 2, 2003


Oh, I forgot. Just before the rifle was invented, there was a move in the English military to bring back longbowmen. The point was the hellish inaccuracy of a musket. The counterpoint was that it took a lifetime to train a good archer whereas any fool can point a stick and pull a trigger. Want more effectiveness? Pressgang more fools!

Sorry for the derail.
posted by walrus at 6:30 AM on September 2, 2003


stupidSexyFlanders: I believe it was during one of the earlier England-France wars, the English had a more superior longbow granting them more accuracy and distance on the battlefield. On the occasions when the French captured English bowmen they would cut off the middle and index fingers of the English to prevent them being able to be bowmen.

The English longbowmen then began taunting the French on battlefied by showing that yes indeed, they were still in possession of their fingers and could operate their longbows.

This was told to me by an English friend so any inaccuracies or downright falsehoods may be attributed to him.
posted by PenDevil at 6:32 AM on September 2, 2003


Damn, Walrus beat me....
posted by PenDevil at 6:33 AM on September 2, 2003


Don't you just hate it when that happens? I'll try to type slower next time.
posted by walrus at 6:35 AM on September 2, 2003


I know that Hitler's childhood (violent father - doting mother) is less-than ignored, but our present-day political leaders aren't generally seeen in this light.

Sure they are. Before he retired in the mid/late 90's, David Barber made his living psycholomogizing Presidents, in part by looking at childhood stuff to the extent he could find it out. Made his career when he predicted Bad Things in Nixon's presidency before he took office.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:49 AM on September 2, 2003


James also wrote Britain on the Couch (available only in UK), which suggested a dramatic increase in depression after the 1950s in the UK. The solution to this low serotonin society? More Prozac.
posted by ed at 6:51 AM on September 2, 2003


Armchair analysis of the most powerful figure in the world morphs into discussion of British military history.

Gosh I love MetaFilter.
posted by aladfar at 7:09 AM on September 2, 2003


Jeb does good things

I.e. illegally purging legitimate voters, get caught doing it, and preventing them from voting in the next election.

I.e. Responding to the Florida Department of Children and Families ooops-we-lost-a-5-year-old-in-our-care crisis by bringing in on board Jerry Regier, who views spanking that causes ''bruises or welts'' as acceptable punishment.

I.e. Raising kids just like his mom.
posted by magullo at 7:22 AM on September 2, 2003


Armchair analysis of the most powerful figure in the world morphs into discussion of British military history.

Oh, is that what it was about? I was too busy wondering how Oliver Willis got an audience with Bush, let alone analyzed him.
posted by m@ at 7:23 AM on September 2, 2003


This piece is lacking, it left off analyzing George's sisters's death, which turned his mother's hair grey.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:01 AM on September 2, 2003


thomcatspike

huh?
posted by delmoi at 9:33 AM on September 2, 2003


Well he certainly has "carved something of his own" in this world.
posted by archimago at 9:41 AM on September 2, 2003


He had a sister whom died while he was a young lad. His sister and him were close and her illness took her suddenly. Her parents took her to the Male clinic to be treated, yet her siblings were not told, so George never had a chance to say "Goodbye". It turned his mother's hair grey and supposedly is the reason he became the jokester in his family too.
Ps, did you know he is related to Princess Di?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:53 AM on September 2, 2003


I'd be wary of any analysis where the psychologist has not actually spoken to the person being analysed....

You spit in the face of the whole theory of criminal profiling, then. (Not to imply that GWB is a criminal...)
posted by crunchland at 10:34 AM on September 2, 2003


And he is also a closeted, deeply repressed homosexual who acts out his sexual frustration by worshipping Satan at strange Bohemian Club rituals, and, and.........Save us from the clutches of psychoanalysis! - Bush is a dry drunk! Bush has an authoritarian personality and was warped by an overachieving father and a domineering mother! Bush is a monster! Bush is a scared little boy. Bush is a spoiled brat, and a bully......

Whatever. But what good does a public, pop psychoanalysis of Bush accomplish? Rare ( or nonexistent ) is the US President who is not some strange piece of work, and many are clearly sociopaths. Maybe that's part of the job description, the certainly that you know better than everyone else.

But I think I'll focus on his behavior as President (and as a public figure in general) and on his administration's policies, thank you very much: on that count he doesn't deserve another term, for a whole swarming host of reasons. But GW Bush's psyche? He can keep that to himself.
posted by troutfishing at 10:35 AM on September 2, 2003


But what good does a public, pop psychoanalysis of Bush accomplish?

It helps us all understand the often bizarre behaviour of the man that controls the largest military in the free world.

I'd say that pieces like this are pretty darn useful.
posted by bshort at 10:54 AM on September 2, 2003


Blue Stone - Having said that, I think psychohistory is a fascinating topic and Presidents - as historical figures at least - surely deserve the full treatment. If you haven't read it, you might like Peter Loewenberg's seminal work, Decoding the Past: The Psychohistorical Approach [ " A provocative defense of the contributions Psychoanalysis has made to the study of history and culture." ]

It includes one famous analytic essay on the common experience shared by the Nazi youth cohort [ "The unsuccessful adolescence of Heinreich Himmler" ] - deprivation and hunger (starvation even) as children (from the latter years of WW1 through the consequent years economic turmoil in Germany), and their typical lack of fathers during the years of WW1, as well as the concurrent dominant role played in their early childhood years by their mothers.
posted by troutfishing at 10:57 AM on September 2, 2003


bshort - The schizoid fence-sitting of my position indicates both a traumatic childhood and also my potential for a brilliant political career.

But - having read Blue Stone's linked article - I'm still not sure I understand GW Bush, although his inclination to be morally rigid and authoritarian reminds me more than a bit of my Born-Again brother. Except that the GW also had a fantastically privileged childhood (materially, at least, if not in terms of love). But I'd be the last to try to shoehorn GW into any one psychoanalytic take. People are complex and I'd credit GW with as much or more complexity than average. That doesn't mean I think he's an intellectual - definitely not. But he also reminds me of little of Nixon, except that his emotional and social intelligence ( in a manipulative sense, anyway ) are probably higher than Nixon's. [ That said, I think his abstract intellect is a bit challenged ] But - crucially - his executive control functions are excellent. That said, I think his presidency will be thought of by future generations as an especially horrifying, large scale disaster. I'd say like a train wreck, but I think 9-11 has upped the ante.

I think GW's presidency illustrates the shortcomings of having a business executive as president. Executives, in the classic business definition, are supposed to be - above all - efficient and effective: goal oriented. but they are not required to have a broad understanding of the world outside of their limited purview. Because of Globalization, this may be changing but GW is clearly from the old style executive school. The goal in business, at least, is clear: profit. But what is the goal of the President of the US? Is it to enrich and empower one's buddies, one's corporate sponsors and one's socioeconomic class? I suspect that is GW Bush's real objective. But - assuming less venal, self interested motives - GW still generally does what Karl Rove advises because Rove's advice will help him retain power. And, lacking a wider understanding of the world and of history, he merely plays the executive to his "experts" - the Rumsfelds. Cheneys, Wolfowitzes, and so on - who actually seem to determine policy positions and who seem to be pursuing both self interested and ideologically intoxicated agendas.

I think Presidential candidates should be forced to take a written exam to determine minimum competency at least ( a simple pass/fail grade ) to determine a certain basic understanding of history, of American government, and of Global Issues.

I'm not sure about submitting them to psychoanalytic scrutiny though.
posted by troutfishing at 11:34 AM on September 2, 2003


basic understanding of history, of American government, and of Global Issues.

Thought that was the VP's job.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:10 PM on September 2, 2003


I misread the post and thought it said George W Bush analysed by proctologist Oliver James, which would have made for some interesting reading.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:47 PM on September 2, 2003


the tradition goes back to English longbowmen

Oy. I know it does little good to debunk these things, but (in the words of Snopes) this is "so obviously a joke that shouldn't need any debunking." It goes along with a myth about an alleged phrase "pluck you." See the Snopes link for the full deconstruction; here's the gist:
First of all, despite the lack of motion pictures and television way back in the 15th century, the details of medieval battles such as the one at Agincourt in 1415 did not go unrecorded.... Several heralds... were present at the battle of Agincourt, and not one of them (or any later chroniclers of Agincourt) mentioned anything about the French having cut off the fingers of captured English bowman.... Secondly, for a variety of reasons, it made no military sense whatsoever for the French to capture English archers, then mutilate them by cutting off their fingers.
less crude than the single-finger version

This is the first I've heard of such a difference; I always thought they were trans-Atlantic equivalents, like "lorry" and "truck."
posted by languagehat at 7:08 PM on September 2, 2003


Well I did say I couldn't be arsed to search. Thanks for the correction.
posted by walrus at 1:53 AM on September 3, 2003


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