Bush On The Couch


by Justin Frank, MD
Harper Perennial, 2005

Dr. Justin Frank, Professor of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical School, used the technique used by the State Department to create psychological profiles of foreign leaders and applied it to President George W. Bush’s psyche and its impact on how he governs. The book examines not only his childhood but patterns of behavior throughout his life – including heavy drinking, deep religious convictions, attention deficit disorder, misspeaking, and the famous smirk – to eventually tackle head-on the question few seem willing to ask: Is our president psychologically fit to run the country?

With an eye for the subtleties of human behavior sharpened by thirty years of clinical practice, Dr. Frank traces the development of Bush’s character from childhood through his presidency, identifying and analyzing his patterns of thought, action, and communication. The result is a troubling portrait filled with important revelations about our nation’s leader—including disturbing new insights into:

  • How Bush reacted to the 2006 Democratic sweep in Congress with a new surge of troops into Iraq
  • His telling habits and coping strategies—from his persistent mangling of English to his tendency to “go blank” in the midst of crisis
  • The tearful public breakdown of his father, George H. W. Bush, and what it says about the former president’s relationship to his prominent sons
  • The debacle of Katrina—the moment when Bush’s arrogance finally failed him


“A compelling printout of the presidential psyche and how it has shaped our world. You will never listen to a State of the Union address again without applying his fascinating psychological read.”
— Tina Brown

“This exploration of the president’s persona will set your hair on fire—and probably land its brilliant author in the federal witness protection program.”
— Kitty Kelley

“A blazing, professional analysis of what everybody yearns to know: what drives this man who roils the planet. It’s a shame Justin Frank hasn’t actually met the president-a few hours on the couch with the good doctor might well east tensions…across the globe.”
— Ron Suskind

“[Frank} has terrific fun at the president’s expense. Drawing on Bush’s many public pronouncements and his family’s decades-old record, Frank treats him as a patient, and concludes that Bush is a certifiable menace to mankind. In short order, he’s exposed as suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, sadism, megalomania, paranoia, and much else….Frank is brilliant at analyzing the president’s irregular speech patterns….He makes telling points, in particular, about Bush’s accumulation of powers and his Manichean view of the world.”
— Daily Telegraph, London

“An eminent and courageous psychotherapist offers us a penetrating account of the psychological make-up of the most powerful man in the world. It is compelling and persuasive and downright frightening. Most readers will end this book stunned, asking themselves how it has come about that we have chosen a leader so ill-equipped for the job.”
— Irvin Yalom, MD

“Finish the book and you’ll believe the president should be locked up.”
— Independent on Sunday, London