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President Obama Needs to Mourn (Review essay)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) January 14, 2012: What difference does it make, if any, if the president of the United States is incapable of serious mourning? What benefit, if any, is there to being capable of serious mourning? With the presidential election coming up later this year, I want to explore these fascinating questions.






Justin A. Frank, M.D., is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. As a psychoanalyst, he follows Melanie Klein's approach to psychoanalysis, using her model of our psychological condition.


I read Dr. Frank's book OBAMA ON THE COUCH (2011) before I read Dr. Frank's earlier book BUSH ON THE COUCH (2004; rev. ed. 2007). In his book about President Barack Obama, Dr. Frank sets forth a far more lucid explanation of Melanie Klein's thought than he does in his book about President George W. Bush (GWB). In addition, Dr. Frank's book about Obama includes a helpful glossary of psychoanalytic terminology toward the end of the book.


Dr. Frank suggests that GWB probably suffers from the kind of learning disability known as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


But Dr. Frank's most important diagnosis of GWB is that he suffers from megalomania (pages 200-206, 231).


However, the most moving and at times poignant part of Dr. Frank's book is his recurring discussion of the death of GWB's younger sister Robin in October 1953, when GWB was about seven years old (pages 2-3, 14-16, 68, 84, 105,187, 224-225, 246).


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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; Ph.D.in 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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