Obama On The Couch


by Justin Frank, MD

Since President Obama became a public figure, we have struggled to define him.  Yet no has been able to answer the fundamental question:  Who is Barack Obama?

Obama on the Couch gets to the core of the man some see as the embodiment of hope for the future and others as no better than a third-world terrorist.
Dr. Justin Frank uses applied psychoanalysis to enhance our understanding of the president by revisiting Obama’s life history from a psychoanalytical perspective.

Dr. Frank connects the psychological dots between

  • The half-black child raised in Hawaii by his white mother and grandparents
  • The son abandoned by the father he never knew
  • The man who is playing out his personal struggles on the international stage, from Indonesia to Hawaii, from Los Angeles to Harvard Law, from the South Side of Chicago to the White House.

Dr. Frank makes links that help the reader reframe recent history in revealing new ways and shed light on this complicated man. Many of his decisions, from his handling of health care reform to his selection of advisors, reflect the lasting effects of his earliest experiences. His behavior in office is at times motivated by inner forces and defenses that he himself doesn’t recognize.

Obama’s divided self, as seen in the contexts of his mixed-race heritage and broken home, play out in his need to promote unity at every turn, seemingly blind to irreconcilable differences within our nation.  Obama on the Couch reveals the unconscious forces that drive his presidency.  This book also examines unconscious forces that drive his avid supporters and passionate detractors.


Wonder why President Obama can’t fight back?  The answer is in this compelling book. Dr. Frank unravels the tragic flaw within a tightly woven man whose unexpressed rage toward both his parents has neutered him as a leader. Aware of his own capacity for destructiveness, he cannot allow himself to retaliate against opponents bent on crushing his Presidency.  Pass on this book to his advisers. It could lift him out of depression and free him to expose the fractures threatening our country and heal our national split before it is too late.
– Gail Sheehy, author “Passages

Dr. Justin Frank’s brilliant use of psychoanalytic categories to unravel the mystery and enigma of President Barack Obama should be read by every American. For years we have puzzled over how the president elected on a promise of “change we can believe in” could have become the Democrat who capitulated to most Republicans. Obama on the Couch demonstrates why this pattern is for our president a necessary response to his own inner needs.  Nuanced and measured, Dr. Frank’s book is a major contribution to contemporary political analysis.”
– Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor-in-chief Tikkun

An analyst who can coin phrases like “obsessive bipartisan disorder” to describe our President is a pleasure to read. But what makes “Obama on the Couch” an important book is Justin Frank’s ability to dive deep into the President’s eloquent writing about his childhood and emerge with fresh and major insights — unacknowledged rage for the mother Obama claims to idolize, unexpressed despair at his abandonment by his stepfather as well as his father.  Obama on the Couch is nothing less than a public service.
– Jesse Kornbluth, editor HeadButler.com

Brilliant. Justin Frank has opened a powerful line of inquiry into the minds of sitting presidents. Using classical techniques of psychoanalysis, Justin Frank pierces the facades of the high and mighty to delve into their psyches, and he hits the target more precisely and more cogently than any other analyst in America today. Bush on the Couch was a triumph of presidential analysis. I can hardly wait for the arrival of Obama on the Couch.
– Michael Carmichael,  University of North Carolina

Dr. Frank’s On The Couch franchise has reinvented the way we look at political candidates and I keep asking myself why no one has thought of this before. His latest opus, Obama on the Couch has taken The President apart from the ground up and shown us the real man – half Shakespearean tragedy, half American success story – in a way that other authors could only hope to do. I found myself climbing deeper and deeper into the mind of this most enigmatic and engaging politician – no small feat – enjoying prose at once articulate, engaging, and – the rarest of beasts – occasionally profound. Great work wrapped up in a thoroughly entertaining package.
– Robert Pobi, author of Bloodman

Obama on the Couch is a fascinating read. Frank approaches this virtual analysis meticulously, closely reading both of Obama’s memoirs, combing through speeches and journalistic accounts of Cabinet meetings. The president’s puzzling insistence on seeking compromise even with political opponents who have sworn resistance, Frank writes in a tongue-in-cheek diagnosis, is evidence of “obsessive bipartisan disorder.”  And his chapter on how Obama’s critics see him – the psychology, or even pathology, behind some of their complaints – is masterful.
Boston Globe