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Justin Frank, M.D., Puts President Obama on the Couch (BOOK REVIEW)

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But in connection with containment, I also mentioned abandonment. Containment is not abandonment, and abandonment is not containment. Abandonment is accompanied by abandonment feelings. By definition, all forms of trauma involve abandonment feelings; trauma is accompanied by abandonment feelings. The psyche can work somehow to repress abandonment feelings, which include rage. This is known as repression. When the abandonment feelings are so strong that the child could not endure them, the psyche somehow represses them. In the context of psychoanalysis, as mentioned, transference can occur. Transference involves the evoking of repressed abandonment feelings from the past in the present. Because abandonment feelings include rage, transference involves anger. Obviously transference can occur in many situations in life, not just in the context of psychoanalysis. But in the context of psychoanalysis, the experience of transference hopefully can lead to some recognition of past situations in which the person experienced abandonment feelings and accompanying rage, which was of course repressed at the time.  

Not surprisingly, Dr. Frank conjectures and hypothesizes that President Obama has repressed rage in his psyche as a result of repressed abandonment feelings. How many among us do not have repressed rage in our psyches as a result of repressed abandonment feelings? Most people do have repressed rage in their psyches as a result of repressed abandonment feelings. It's a safe bet that President Obama, like most people, has repressed rage in his psyche as a result of repressed abandonment feelings.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Frank says that Obama "cannot heal a split without facing the fact that there is a split -- that he has repressed his rage at both his parents and that the splits are really closer to repressions than to traditional good guy/bad guy splits" (page 34). However, in order to resolve the split, Obama have to experience his repressed rage toward his parents, as would anybody else who wants to resolve the split in their psyches. If Obama were able to resolve the split in a way that empowers him, he would move forward forcefully to become a far more powerful person than he is at the present time.

Now, I would point out the obvious. President Obama is going to have to campaign for re-election in 2012 while he is actively serving as president. In theory, this means that President Obama is going to have to act as Candidate Obama did in the 2008 presidential election. But in the 2008 presidential election, the Republican candidate for president, Senator John McCain simply was not able to fight the good rhetorical fight with the golden-tongued Candidate Obama. Granted, the Republican party might once again choose a candidate who cannot fight the good rhetorical fight with Candidate Obama in 2012. Nevertheless, in 2012, Candidate Obama will also have to defend his track record as President Obama. Furthermore, the Republican candidate for president in 2012 will be assisted by the well-financed Republican noise machine. In short, President Obama will be in the fight of his political life in 2012. In 2012, the Republicans collectively will work together to make his re-election far more of a challenge for him than Senators McCain was able to make the 2008 election.

If the Republicans were able to press enough buttons in President Obama in the 2012 election, he just might find himself in the situation in which his repressed rage surfaces. Of course when repressed rage surfaces, it needs to be contained appropriately. But the prospect of President Obama's repressed rage surfacing in the 2012 presidential campaign strikes me as likely and potentially constructive. In 2012, he is going to be in the fight of his political life. He had better learn how to fight the Republicans with the contained repressed rage in his psyche, or else he will be a one-term president, at least temporarily until he decides to run for president again in 2016 or 2020 or 2024.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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