August 27, 2007

Did Obama undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

A reader has sent me a theory about why Sen. Barack Obama's personality seems so different today than when he wrote his first autobiography in 1995. While highly speculative, his idea sounds not implausible.

Since I don't watch television news, I'd never seen Barack Obama on video until after I read his 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Thus, I developed a rather different perspective on Obama's personality than the multitudes whose opinion was molded by seeing him on TV. Rather than seeing him as "comfortable in his own skin" (a phrase common among those who know him from TV), his memoir showed a supremely uncomfortable 33-year-old who was "a literary artist of considerable power in plumbing his deep reservoirs of self-pity and resentment, an unfunny Evelyn Waugh. ...Obama has a depressive’s fine eye for the disillusioning detail. ... The book’s chief weakness is that its main character—Obama himself—is a bit of a drip, a humor-impaired Holden Caulfield whose preppie angst is fueled by racial regret. (Obama has a knack for irony, but of a strangely humorless flavor.)"

Now, Waugh was an infinitely more interesting person than the man who was Prime Minister three times during Waugh's early career from 1925-37, yet who is barely remember today. (Can you name that Tory PM? Waugh is now mentioned about 3.5 times more on the Internet than that Prime Minister.) Waugh was a man of near genius, but I've never heard of anyone ever considering him as a potential Prime Minister. The idea seems ludicrous. And that's about the same impression I took away from Obama's first memoir -- a talented and highly interesting man, but not at all what you'd look for in a President.

Lots of people who hadn't read Obama's autobiography were outraged by my article about his book. They'd seen him on TV, where he looked very Presidential, so his book couldn't possibly be like I said it was.

Kevin Drum of the liberal Washington Monthly, however, plowed all the way through Obama's first book and reported back similarly, although Drum was less sympathetical and more distrustful than I was, but we seemed to be in agreement that twelve years ago Obama hadn't portrayed himself as the kind of emotionally stable individual you'd want in the White House. Drum wrote:

Obama routinely describes himself feeling the deepest, most painful emotions imaginable (one event is like a "fist in my stomach," for example, and he "still burned with the memory" a full year after a minor incident in college), but these feelings seem to be all out of proportion to the actual events of his life, which are generally pretty pedestrian. Is he describing his real feelings? Is he simply making the beginning writer's mistake of thinking that the way to convey emotion is to use lots of adjectives? Or is something else going on?...

There's just something very peculiar about the book. I can't put my finger entirely on what it is, but for all the overwrought language that Obama employs on page after page, there's very little insight into what he believes and what really makes him tick. It was almost as if Obama was admitting to his moodiness and angst less as a way of letting us know who he is than as a way of guarding against having to really tell us. By the time I was done, I felt like I knew less about him than before.

But, clearly, Obama isn't today the person portrayed in his first book. For one thing, he now has a mild sense of humor. Perhaps he never was who he claimed in 1995 to be -- we now know his depiction of his Hawaiian days was quite distorted.

Or, perhaps he has changed. One possibility is that he goes through moderate hypomanic and depressive cycles. This is quite common among high achievers. The secret to winning your place in history is often to have an up cycle coincide by luck with a time when intense action is needed.

But, another possibility is that he's done something to improve himself. A reader writes:

You should catch the Daily Show at 11. Not so much what Obama has to say, but just watching how comfortable he is in his own skin. I thought about you when Stewart showed him the headline, "Angry Obama the Pothead Is Not How They Remember Him In Hawaii", his reaction was deep and genuine laughter, with no sign of self-consciousness or defensiveness.

From use of a throwaway use of the phrase, "push back against the habits of thought", I think I know why "Angry Obama" seems so mellow, he's gone through therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I'd guess) and I think his shrink did the trick.

Habits of thought is a buzzword that you'll hear from CBT and Positive Psychology terms just as (to put it in California terms) someone talking about Thetans is probably a Scientologist. …

As for "habits of thought", here's how the CBT folks use the term, "But Dr. Seligman believes that explanatory style can be changed. In a recent study of depressed patients he found that cognitive therapy - a technique that identifies and corrects erroneous habits of thought -changed the style of the patients from pessimistic to optimistic, and that the change persisted one year after therapy ended."

A google of "habits of thought" and "Obama" shows he used the expression in his second book, The Audacity of Hope:

"each successive year will make you more intimately acquainted with all of your flaws - the blind spots, the recurring habits of thought that may be genetic or may be environmental, but that will almost certainly worsen with time, as surely as the hitch in your walk turns to pain in your hip."

It seems to me that between book 1 and book 2, Barry had his head worked on and it took. In this interview, he comes across as a good guy.

CBT isn't Freudian witchdoctoring. It has a good track record of helping people with moderate emotional problems get themselves out of the ruts they're stuck in. The Wikipedia article on it says:

A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy based on modifying cognitions, assumptions, beliefs and behaviors, with the aim of influencing disturbed emotions. The general approach developed out of behavior modification, Cognitive Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and has become widely used to treat neurosis psychopathology, including mood disorders and anxiety disorders. The particular therapeutic techniques vary according to the particular kind of client or issue, but commonly include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly included. CBT is widely accepted as an evidence and empirically based, cost-effective psychotherapy for many disorders and psychological problems. It is sometimes used with groups of people as well as individuals, and the techniques are also commonly adapted for self-help manuals and, increasingly, for self-help software packages.

If Obama has been helped by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or something else, he should tell the public. His endorsement could do a lot of good by encouraging others to try it.

If he had therapy, the most likely point was in the 18 months following his defeat by Bobby Rush when he challenged the Congressman in the 2000 primary. Obama's Harvard credentials had played well in the Hyde Park district he represented in the Illinois legislature, but more typical blacks in Rush's South Side district found Obama stuck up and unlikable. In his latest book, in the next sentence after mentioning "habits of thought," Obama goes on:

In me, one of those flaws had proven to be a chronic restlessness; an inability to appreciate, no matter how well things were going, those blessings that were right there in front of me. It's a flaw that is endemic to modern life, I think -- endemic, too, in the American character -- and one that is nowhere more evident than in the field of politics. Whether politics actually encourages the trait or simply attracts those who possess it is unclear. Lyndon Johnson, who knew much about both politics and restlessness, once said that every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes, and I suppose that may explain my particular malady as well as anything else.

In any event, it was as a consequence of that restlessness that I decided to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent for his congressional seat in the 2000 election cycle. It was an ill-considered race, and I lost badly -- the sort of drubbing that awakens you to the fact that life is not obliged to work out as you'd planned. A year and a half later, the scars of that loss sufficiently healed ...

Denial, anger, bargaining, despair -- I'm not sure I went through all the stages prescribed by the experts. At some point, though, I arrived at acceptance -- of my limits, and, in a way, my mortality. I refocused on my work in the state senate and took satisfaction from the reforms and initiatives that my position afforded. I spent more time at home, and watched my daughters grow, and properly cherished my wife, and thought about my long-term financial obligations. I exercised, and read novels, and came to appreciate how the earth rotated around the sun and the seasons came and went without any particular exertions on my part.

Sounds like Obama was doing some emotional therapy -- either self-directed or with a counselor. From a Google search, it doesn't seem like anyone has ever raised the topic of whether Obama has had therapy, but it hardly seems unlikely in someone so introspective.

We have a destructive prejudice in America against politicians admitting to getting any help for emotional problems, even though roughly half of all Presidents appear to have had one kind of mental problem or another (e.g., Lincoln and depression).

Indeed, perhaps Obama's beautiful but disturbing first book chronicling his obsession with his father was written under the influence of some quasi-Freudian therapist who demanded that he obsess at vast length over his parents, while his more bland but reassuring second book is the outcome of a quick, practical course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or something similar. This is 100% speculation, of course, but it would help answer the basic question about why Obama's self presentation of his personality changed so much from age 33 to age 42.

Obama goes on:

And it was this acceptance, I think, that allowed me to come up with the thoroughly cockeyed idea of running for the United States Senate.

Obviously, the BS meter here is running about 9.5 on a 1 to 10 scale: Obama talks about how he had come to realize one of his flaws was "restlessness," how he had learned to accept his limits and the satisfactions of his limited life ... and then almost immediately he decides to run for the U.S. Senate! And then for the Presidency! And when he's term limited out of the White House after eight years, he'll convert to Catholicism and run for Pope (unless there's an opening in the Galactic Overlord job).

But there's nothing unique among politicians about Obama's overweening ambition. They're all like that. Fifteen years ago in The United States of Ambition, Alan Ehrenhalt asked about our political leaders: Who chooses these people? His answer was: They choose themselves.

And we like that. As Gen. Patton said, Americans love a winner. We pay lip service to having our heroes lead a balanced life, but we mostly just want them to win, damn the consequences. I've seen a million movies in which the hero is striving so hard that his wife complains that he's missing all his son's Little League games. So, then, there's a montage of him playing catch with his son and cheering him on when he hits a homer in Little League, and then our hero goes back out and wins the really big prize and gets a standing ovation.

Same with Obama -- he inserts a montage in his book about spending more time at home watching his daughters grow while exercising and appreciating how the earth rotates around the sun ... and then he's off on the Road to the White House! We love that kind of hypocrisy in our heroes.

So, if Obama had help getting his head screwed on right after his depressing pratfall in 2000, he shouldn't keep it a secret. Telling us about it could help a lot of people who need help.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


James Kabala said...

Two humorous quotations about Stanley Baldwin:

"One could not dignify him with the name of stuffed shirt. He was simply a hole in the air." - George Orwell

"I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill, but it would have been much better if he had never lived." - Winston Churchill

I don't know enough about him to know how much either of these remarks is deserved.

RICK said...

Steve, you’re way overanalyzing Obama. He’s just putting on another mask. In the early to mid-90s he needed to build up his bona fides as a “black” to curry favor with the black community. After all, he was running for political office in a black district in Chicago, and he had very little in his background that recommended him to the black community. So he went so far as to repudiate the very family that raised him and gave him his opportunities. Quite a DISHONORABLE bit of playacting. Then, when he decides to go “national” and run for the US Senate, he needs to broaden his constituency, so he peels off the one mask and dons another, this one to the effect “we’re all brothers together,” or whatever. He’s a phony. So what if he underwent CBT treatment. One study showed that the treatment can hold for more than a year. Well, what personality transformation does he undergo the following year? Who needs multiple personalities in a president! Maybe he should go back to writing diaries or novels penetrating the depths of the human psyche. But the most disturbing part of all of this was his repudiation of his family to satisfy his personal ambition. This dips even lower than the knavery of the lowest politician.

Jewish Atheist said...

So, if Obama had help getting his head screwed on right after his depressing pratfall in 2000, he shouldn't keep it a secret.

The time for that revelation is after his second term, when he's writing his presidential memoirs. The right-wing hate machine would go on and on about how he's insane and unfit to lead, if he's actually had therapy and admits it.

Remember Reagan's line about Dukakis, whom it was rumored had been (successfully!) treated for depression? "I'm not going to pick on an invalid."

Alex said...

"his memoir showed a supremely uncomfortable 33-year-old who was "a literary artist of considerable power--a talented and highly interesting man, but not at all what you'd look for in a President."

I dont think one can underestimate how highly valued verbal skill and charm is among the pundits and culterati who so rapidly promoted Obama (following his '04 convention speech) into being a serious presidential contender. They seriously consider it the key thing about being president. Part of why they so exaggerate the substance of Bill Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Like Steve, I watch little TV. However, I did see the Daily Show interview with Obama and came to a different conclusion than that Obama is simply comfortable and confident. In general, Obama’s body language seem a Frankenstein mix of grave black preacher voice dramatics, stiff staid white torso movements with happy latin/black smile, laugh and arm gesticulations (with mainly mainstream middle-class white speaking points and selective black special interest talks).

If you watch his body language on the Daily Show however he comes across a bit cocky, especially as he gets into the interview, uncrosses his arms and relaxes. Starting at about 2:45 into the 2nd video, the occasional wide shot shows Obama lounging back, head askew with a cool wiseguy grin waiting for Stewart to setup the next adulatory question. Obama comes across so much better in the tight shots with his smile, laugh and hands, so it’s easy to miss what the larger picture conveys.

Perhaps it was intentional to use a somewhat detached black cool factor that mostly affluent young liberal white NYC studio audience would see. It was off-putting to relics like me who caught it and don’t take the blue-sky, everything-is-different-now political rhetoric at face value.

I read a lot and avoid TV, so the last time I saw the spotlight on Obama was his speech at the Democratic National Convention before the 2004 Presidential Election. At the time he seemed painfully earnest, idealistic and young but promising. In three short years, it seems his voice has dropped an octave, his speech dramatically slowed and assumed more preacher-like variations. He still seems bodily restrained from the clips I’ve seen of him since, but he talks with his hands more effectively and focuses on more uncontroversial white mainstream concerns about finding a sane middle way.

Maybe his confidence/cockiness comes from the fact that he’s done far better than he initially dreamed, knows he has the VP or the next Dem presidential nomination sealed and is only 46yrs old with many miles left on the tread.

I’m not sure he’s had his head shrunken, but he certainly has been working with media coaches. Like Bush, I still have no idea how he'll really act if he gets in power.


Anonymous said...

having done some 'self-therapy' with CBT, it certainly seems plausible to me. i'd never thought of it before, but CBT is very legalistic. you're changing the 'laws' you use to evaluate your life.

if only W had gone to that same shrink instead of his regiment of BAT(born again therapy).

Anonymous said...

Like most liberals, Obama is a Myers-Briggs F personality, a person whose decisions are made less by thought than by feelings. The F effect may be most important in less obviously emotional situations, where decisions are based on subdued positive or negative feelings rather than straight logic. Obama seems to have particular appeal with white F type women (with their Islamic capacity to block out facts and reality and love their leader). His first book is representative "F in the arts" angst.

No Fs have achieved the presidency in the 20th century because the complex process of managing a political career and then a presidential campaign favors stronger thinkers (or anyhow those apt to choose strong thinkers as their managers). Gore's F nature probably cost him the presidency when he had every other advantage in 2000.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: No Fs have achieved the presidency in the 20th century because the complex process of managing a political career and then a presidential campaign favors stronger thinkers (or anyhow those apt to choose strong thinkers as their managers).


Have you ever read Edith Efron's Can the President Think?

PS: I don't have a clue about Stanley Baldwin's career, but 75 years from now, when names like "Juanita Broaddrick" have long since been forgotten, Bill Clinton will be lucky to even be an asterisk in the history books.

If you can point to one single, solitary, substantive, non-trivial thing he ever did in his entire life [other than raping girls at Oxford, raping girls as a professor at UArk School of Law, and raping campaign volunteers while Ark Atty Gen], then it's more than I can think of.

Maybe you could say, "Not vetoing the reduction of the capital gains tax down to 20%", but I doubt that anyone will remember that 75 years from now.

Certainly Jamie Gorelick and the "wall of separation" will long since have been forgotten, as will have been Richard "Il Consigliere" Ben Veniste, Denise "Silicone" Rich, Sandy "Socks" Berger, Kalmen Stern, David Goldstein, Jacob Elbaum, Benjamin Berger, Arthur Coia, Anthony Pellicano, Terry Lenzner, Craig Livingstone, Anthony Marceca, and the rest of their merry band of criminals and low-life thugs. [Unless, God forbid, they're all resurrected in a Frau Hillary administration.]

Heck, it's only been twelve years, and in the midst of this current debate over whether to bail out all these good-for-nothing thieving rat-bastard bankers who invested so many of Alan Greenspan's shekels in paper they knew damned well to be worthless, I don't think anyone even remembers that Robert Rubin did exactly the same thing for his fellow tribalists over at Goldman Sachs back in 1995 when their Mexican paper tanked. And here just this very day, Rubin's Man Friday, poor ol' Larry Summers [God bless his little heart], is calling for yet another rescue. Plus ça change.

Anyway, I suppose that phrases like "got me a Lewinsky from that slut" or "put some ice on it" might persist for a while, but I kinda doubt it.

In fact, after all the Boomers die off, I kinda doubt that anyone will even remember JFK anymore - in another 50 or 75 years, he'll be just another answer to a trivia question, and names like "Lee Harvey Oswald", "Fidel Castro", and "Nikita Khrushchev" will have all the currency that names like "Leon Czolgosz" and "Emma Goldman" have today.

PPS: Brownie points for the first person who can identify "Leon Czolgosz" without cheating.

Anonymous said...

Clinton's strong extroversion resonated with the F types in the dem. party. However, Clinton is the rare high IQ rational N type (theorist) who makes the presidency. Clinton's significance was being wise enough to embrace Reagan's 3 domestic pillars: free trade, an independent federal reserve, and limited government--the political recipe for prosperity--when they were still remote territory for democrats (early 1990s). I agree Rubin is vastly overrated, like many Goldman political survivors, and his reigning philosophy of a balanced budget yielding low interest rates is more or less wrong (it's productivity growth). Bush may not be brighter than 120 IQ, but he's not touchy-feely, and he had the good judgement to trust Rove (140 IQ+), an N type, to make the decisions. Steve's early call that Rove was overrated was accurate. Bush is an experiential S type (like Nixon).

Chief Seattle said...

WRT Clinton not having done anything memorable, that seems like a pretty positive thing to me. Whatever he did or didn't do, there were no major wars, no major terrorist attacks, growing trade, improving environment, general prosperity.

We can only hope that the next president is as forgettable.

Steve Sailer said...

Clinton as the Democratic Calvin Coolidge, with the only difference being that unlike the depressed Cal, he never slept? I like that ...

Anonymous said...

Leon was the guy who shot President Garfield if I'm not mistaken. Sad that I remember such trivia.

chrysoperil said...

Waugh was a man of near genius, but I've never heard of anyone ever considering him as a potential Prime Minister. The idea seems ludicrous.

Interviewer: You are in favour of capital punishment?
Waugh: For an enormous number of offences, yes.
Interviewer: And you yourself would be prepared to carry it out?
Waugh: Do you mean, actually do the hangman’s work?
Interviewer: Yes.
Waugh: I should think it very odd for them to choose a novelist for such tasks.

But one of Arthur C. Clarke's more sensible ideas is that very last people who should be allowed near power are those who want it.

Anonymous said... trade, an independent federal reserve, and limited government--the political recipe for prosperity...

In fact "free trade" leads directly to offshoring of entire industries and labor forces, which in turn leads directly to the shrinking of the middle class. It only leads to prosperity in the short term, and is a sure sign that a nation's business elites are stripping the bones of the empire, instead of building it.

Mthson said...

"[Obama] dips even lower than the knavery of the lowest politician."

I agree. What we really need is another George W. Bush in the white house.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Clinton's strong extroversion resonated with the F types in the dem. party. However, Clinton is the rare high IQ rational N type (theorist) who makes the presidency... Bush may not be brighter than 120 IQ, but he's not touchy-feely, and he had the good judgement to trust Rove (140 IQ+), an N type, to make the decisions.

I tell you what - if I promise to read up on "Myers-Briggs" [whatever that is], then will you devote a little bit of time to Edith Efron's Can the President Think?

It's a long article, certainly by pop-essay standards, but it might be the most fascinating piece of psychological analysis I've ever encountered in my adult lifetime.

Efron's insight was that Clinton was literally pathologically incapable of making any decisions whatsoever, so that the effective Coolidgean works [or "non-works", as the case may be] of his Administration, which Mr. Sailer just identified, were purely random coincidence.

I.e. from Efron's point of view, with Clinton I & Clinton II, what we had were eight consecutive years of deer-in-the-headlights panic, wherein literally nothing at all transpired at the Federal level.

Frau Hillary, on the other hand - now she's the decision maker in the family. She failed spectacularly in her first attempt to reshape American health care in her own Nurse-Ratched-ian self image, but she's patient. Very, very patient.

After all, she's been planning this since she wrote her undergraduate thesis on Saul Alinsky.

Reminds me of an old joke: Bill and Hillary were out in the car and stopped at a gas station. To their surprise, the attendant was an old boyfriend of Hillary's, and they greeted each other and chatted a bit. As they were driving off, Bill said, "Well, if you had married that guy, then you would have been the wife of a gas station attendant!"

"No," she said, "if I had married that guy, then HE would be the president now."

Anonymous said...

Stanley Baldwin is most noted for gutting the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and Royal Army in the face of Japanese and German re-armament. That's why Churchill despised him. He was much like Clinton in that regard who did the same.

Both Clinton and Obama appeal to women, who are highly verbal and not very good at spatial/mathematical/logical thinking. Categorize that as the "Oprah Vote." What Clinton had, luckily, was Ross Perot and very bad candidates who exuded wimpiness or age (Bush 1, Dole) and lacked the "regular guy" image. It's doubtful however that Clinton could have won had his chasing around the Oval Office of Monica Lewinsky surfaced in 1996 early enough in the campaign. [He would have been a joke and not taken seriously by men.]

Clinton exploited the "gender gap" by appealing to women. Who mostly feel and don't think, want the flipside of themselves in male leaders (verbal, intuitive, non-thinking). Clinton's political strength was (like GWB analyzing his father's defeat in 1992) realizing his skills would only take him so far and relying on Carville and Begala who ran an amazing campaign aiming to split off just enough of the male vote to win.

Obama has the same strengths and weaknesses of Clinton, but (all therapy issues aside) lacks a Carville, Begala, or Rove to assemble enough male votes to tack onto the female votes. [Anyone looking at Clintonian passivity relating to terror need only look at who voted for him: women who dislike intensely the military, force, killing and prefer to bargain or negotiate with killers.]

However the task of splitting off enough male voters is much more difficult. White men anyway who are not elites understand they lose under female-oriented leaders. Call it the "Falling Down" vote. Blocked in advancement or dumped in their careers by Affirmative Action favoring minorities and women, with very hierarchical "aristo" styled culture (women love complex social hierarchies and aristo-oriented societies) leaving them out of much influence, they understand they are "losers" to the "winners" in that spoils system. Also the potential costs of catering to female viewpoints on terror are high if uncertain. The probability of say a nuclear attack on any one US city is low, but the cost to them if they're there when it happens is very high. Women think "if we are just nice to them the bad men won't attack us" while men pencil themselves in as the doomed guys jumping off the WTC.

Men in particular DO NOT LIKE giving up control to others, particularly foreign men. Which female-oriented appeasement is based on. Giving up control is "acting like a woman" and very unmanly, guaranteeing a loss of status and interest by women.

To me this explains Obama's wobbly, uncertain "tough guy" rhetoric on Pakistan. Wholly out of character from his female-skewing "senstive Hollywood movie star" campaign. He's trying to appeal to men who want something other than a Hollywood pretty boy and not succeeding.

Shrillary has the women's vote locked up anyway. But I doubt many men will vote for her.

Anonymous said...

I previously commented that Romney (upper IQ rational N type) is the only serious candidate to actually have accomplished something outside the fairyland of the media, govt., and politics. He's also running the most rational campaign. The relatively strong anti-illegal position and efforts to move the Michigan primary (which had Romney campaign handwriting on it) were shrewd moves. Romney undoubtedly has chosen rational people for his organization, something he would have done over and over at Bain Capital in managing different portfolio firms.

(The fact that the coolest white collar people are now part of meritocratic private equity firms (2000s) making real improvements to firm operations, and not part of name brand investment banks (80s) taking slices of the pie, speaks well for the country).

With the weird Mormon and Boston private equity angles, you'd think Romney would make isteve sport, but perhaps the great isteve falls silent rather than feed the press edgy criticism of one of the race's strongest immigration opponents (considering serious contenders). In any case, at least if you believe Romney's prospects exceed expectations, Romney profiles would be ahead of the curve, where Obama, who most think of as a man for the future, is probably already past his political peak.

I personally don't love all of Romney's views, but it might be good to have the smartest person with the smartest staff in the highest office.

Anonymous said...

If Obama was growing up today, he'd figure out that although the elite colleges talk about diversity as if they mean they're lifting up out of the ghettoes the great-great-grandchildren of the slaves, the truth is that they've pretty much given up on urban African-American males who aren't athletes...

Agreed: Obama is shrewd and calculating. And you say he's a talented writer. But how about him writing a book on any other subject than himself? Would you read it?

Obama is smooth...but he is not deep. I wonder how many here have actually sat and listened to a lengthy speech of his. As president he would have looks, charisma and a bunch of other people's ideas. Sound familiar?

Anyway, the great decision of Barack Obama's life is whether or not to accept the Vice Presidency in 2008. I think there's a strong chance he will decline the offer considering his age and ego. He wants that brass ring.

David said...

Eagleton. Fill in the blanks.

Anonymous said...

"Telling us about it could help a lot of people who need help." - this line is as redundant as it is anticlimatic...

Since we're on the subject of psychological disorders, I've noticed that Steve as well as a few of the posters demonstrate traits that exaggerate the male end of the psychological spectrum. Carried to the pathological extreme, which I believe is the case for Steve, your preference for left brained processing could get some of you labeled as having Asperger's Syndrome. Then again Steve could just be an ass. Which is it?

Steve Sailer said...

Why choose, when I could have Assperger's?

Anonymous said...

Let's just drop the media invented "good looks" tag for Obama. This is a sad variant of the "they all look alike". I've never heard a legitimate black compare Obama to Denzel like unteathered rich liberal whites.

Obama's got a great permasmile and pleasant demeanor, but physically he looks like a skinny, jug eared pin-head. If he wasn't 1/4 black, he'd be Don Knox's evil twin.


Anonymous said...

I promise to read up on "Myers-Briggs"

Okay, I glanced at it, and, ah, well, um, okay.

Now go read Can the President Think?

David Davenport said...

He still seems bodily restrained from the clips ...

A genetic handicap. Wonder what his basketball game is like?

Anonymous said...

Folks I blew it with my answer on the trivia question. I was half right.

BTW Oboma looks much more like the Bushman in "The Gods must be Crazy" than Don Knots.

A sequel perhaps? titled "The Dems must be Crazy"

Anonymous said...

Clinton got us into and out of Afghanistan. That was Clark's plan, goddamnit!

All the Nobel Prize winning scientists (XNTX) endorsed "anything but a republican"

And for good reason. Stupid republicans meddling with good scientific consensi.

And don't get me started on Hillary's unscientific censorship, either...

Republican used to be the party of thinkers... in the 1930's

SFG said...

Weeell, I think they were worried about global warming most likely. Bush's cowboy style also isn't likely to endear him to scientists; someone who openly disdains smart people isn't going to win over a lot of Nobel laureates.

There aren't that many Nobel laureate votes, of course. The problem with democracy is that stupid people get to vote. The problem with oligarchy is that you can't trust smart people to make decisions for everyone. Even if they aren't out to enrich themselves, they often think everyone thinks the way they do.

Anonymous said...

Cognitive behaviour therapy techniques in Greece

1. Spotting the negative thought (cognitive error), for instance, examining if the therapy followed is a cognitive behavior therapy or a charlatan therapy. Writing it down. In case such a spotting of the negative thought is not producing any results, the therapist asks the patient to discuss about negative thoughts related to obesity, even if the patient is not oversized at all.

2. Giving to the patient a page with a childish outline and drawings and explanation of the usual negative thoughts, which doesnʼt make any sense at all, probably because the person who drafted it, was in a mental disarray. Discussing about the patients inability to understand what in the hell all these mean. The therapist is assuring the patient that 99% of his patient understand the meaning of the particular page and cooperating fully, writing down their negative thoughts. In addition the //Established Authority// uses them.

3. The therapist is proposing the patient to start reading books (bibliotherapy). However the recommended books describe a cognitive therapy which is totally different from the followed one at this time. The patient is understanding that he has a lot of negative thoughts. He is writing them down. He is presenting them to the therapist. The therapist feels embarrashed. (“I told you that with a difficulty I extract one single negative thought from my patients and you already brought me so many!”). The therapist forgets what he told about 99% understand at once and cooperating fully with the therapist analyzing their negative thoughts.

4. The therapist makes remarks to the patient about putting the negative thoughts in one column, while using other columns for the assumptions, intermediate core beliefs, reinforcing events, alternative suggestions, how he feels after his own suggestions. Spending a whole session on trying to explain to the patient the fact that the word “core” in core beliefs is translated into Greek with “nuclear”, “nuclear beliefs” and not core beliefs, as the ignorants believe. This is supported by two arguments. First it is translated in such a way in the Eginiteion Psychiatric Hospital, where disagreement is not favored (May be,as part of the decentralization program, the Eginiteion Psychiatric Hospital assuming the task of keeping and elaborating the Greek Language, replacing the Academy of Athens). The second is that it is translated in such a way in the Divryʼs English-Greek dictionary, written by George Konstantopoulos from the village of Divry in the mountain Parnassos.

5. Without analyzing and elaborating the produced and stored negative thoughts, the therapist asks the patient to look for some more. The patientʼs list is continually rejected by the therapist with the recommendation to make the columns more and more stylish.

6. Self disclosures of the therapist, so that the patient can grasp them and write them down as an exercise. He has to challenge his own thoughts, and write down how he feels about doing all the work himself. The therapist asks the patient no to take any more pictures with his digital camera because she has put cream in her face and is glistening.

7. At the request of the patient, discussion is being made about Judith Beck and her book “Cognitive Therapy, Basics and Beyond”, relating to the need for structuring the sessions, need for extracting some conclusions at the end of the session, bridging with the previous session, need for resuming at the end, realizing what the patient understood and what he didnʼt, about the process followed in order to arrive to a negative thought, intermediate belief, core belief etc. After having completed approximately 65 hours of sessions the patient realized from the words of his therapist that all these are not absolute. (“Yes, there are some colleagues of mine that follow this strict procedure. However it is written (where?) the patient is tired out of this, and in fact all my patients have come begging me, imploring me to talk freely, because they canʼt sand the structuring of the session. An as I am interested in their welfare, I donʼt structure my sessions”). A therapist that respects himself never reads the following

8. Discussing about any other therapies that the patient is aware of and related to the cognitive and behavior therapy model, which might give the patient ideas that he is being cheated by his therapist.

9. Discovering that in the dossier kept by the therapist there are numerous negative thoughts given by the patient which have not been elaborated for months. The therapist can disarm the patient by saying “the structure and the time used during the therapy is your responsibility. You shouldnʼt produce so many ideas during the session, Ha, ha ha, look how I smile like a “Spontaneous Child”!”

10. The patient could eventually contact thought email another cognitive behavior therapist, an ex cop, and receive the following answer: “In the cognitive behavior therapy there is always a structure, professionalism, and a clear timetable. The word “clear timetable” sounds like a bell in the patientʼs mind. He contacts his therapist.

11. The therapist could eventually send an SMS message to the patient asking him not to ask for a “clear timetable”, because he has been diagnosed as “borderline” (the diagnosis is sent though SMS) and there is a lot, a lot of work be done. The differences between psychologists/therapists from psychiatrists/ therapists is that the psychologist have a low self esteem and a disguised mental handicap. In Greece the majority of the mental patients are women. The majority of psychologists/therapists are also women. That means that a mentally handicapped woman would make an option, either continue to be a mental patient for the rest of her life, or become a psychotherapist. With psychiatrists we see something different. They have clinical experience in clinics and hospitals, while the psychologists have little or nothing. The //Established Authority// offers them supervised sessions that end in a few months with the therapist saying “We have now concluded our therapy, Good-by!”)

12. The therapist, without following the method described by Judith Beck, for moving from negative thoughts, to intermediate beliefs and core beliefs, could eventually throw to the patientʼs face whatever “nuclear” beliefs (what Americans call “core beliefs”) the patient should have (yes! Should have!) by virtue of the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder being already made. That means that in Greece first the therapist makes the diagnosis –usually at the bank when waiting for a bank loan- and afterwards looks for the “nuclear” beliefs that the patient was supposed to have. The diagnosis should be what the therapist has presented in her //Established Authority// as a difficult case, with imaginary behavior of her patients and has received with a general applause from the participants in the meeting. The patient is not entitled to disagree. If he objects the “nuclear” belief “the world is hostile and dangerous” he has to live with it. The therapist is never mistaken, especially if the patientʼs objection can make the therapist loose his diploma from the //Established Authority//.

13. The patient could contact by email another therapist. She might answer “you should go back to your therapist and discuss again the issue with him. You shouldnʼt break the relationship”. If you go to another one, the first thing to discuss in the disagreement with your previous therapist.

14. The patient could eventually visit another therapist (male) who is the boyfriend of the previous female therapist and one of the supervisors of the //Established Authority//. The established practice requires every cognitive therapist to contact every colleague of his or hers to find out whether the patient has escaped from them and seeks therapy elsewhere. When a patient escapes therapy, he is treated in a way resembling neutrality of foreign ships during a war blockade. They give description not only of his name, but also of his face, his height, weight, hair etc, so that they exclude that the escapee uses a false identity. The supervisor, after collecting the fees of two visits (2X70=140 Euros, or $ 100) could say to the patient:
THERAPIST (male): I canʼt accept you for therapy because I shall be treating your wife in the same time.
PATIENT: No, my wife has told you that she doesnʼt like to initiate therapy with you.
THERAPIST: But she might change her mind!
PATIENT: So you donʼt accept me?
THERAPIST: You should go back to your previous therapist.
The therapist can disguise herself when rejects an escaped patient by saying “I noticed that you eat meat more than twice a week. I know a therapist that is suited for you. There is no point of discussing other problems. I donʼt want to hear anymore. Go!” (Something similar happened to me!)

15. The reason for such a procedure followed is obvious: Solidarity is the key for the survival of the incompetent professionals. A therapist should never accept anybody who has undervalued the colleagueʼs opinion.

16. The therapist can accept the patientʼs proposal for a cognitive behavior therapy through email. In the cost of one hour e-mail session the patient is charged for 40 minutes that are required for receiving the message and 40 more for sending the answer, because the therapistʼs laptop is very slow and will be replaced later in May. The messages include material totally depleted of cognitive behavior material , for instance “ I should teach you how to remember names. For Mike Goof, you should remember Mikey and Gooffy.”

17. Judith Beck says in her book Cognitive therapy, Basics and beyond that “when there is a negative thought that is true –related to a fact –the therapist, instead of challenging the thought, should concentrate on how to help the patient solve the problem”. This is very embarrassing for the therapist because he or she has learned in the //Established Authority// only a photocopied textbook of 90 pages that includes all the cognitive therapy and no-one has ever heard of Judith Beck in his life. The usual symptoms treated by the cognitive therapist is “Oh my God I canʼt wake up at 7,00 in the morning”, “I canʼt stop eating”, “My boyfriend the supervisor doesnʼt like me” etc. They are unable to deal with real human problems.

18. The therapist has the ultimate argument that present to the patient after completing about 70 hours of therapy: Since you are not pleased by my approach (nice word!) you should go to another therapist. Of course at the same time the therapist undermines all attempts of the escaped patient to be admitted to therapy by another therapist, as described above. If the patient asks the therapist for a recommendation the therapist might claim that she came to Greece after a lengthy stay in Madagascar for studies and doesnʼt know any other therapist

19. Therapists should never feel bad when they are dealing with patientʼs negative thoughts in such a way. By using the above procedure the patient shall forget the initial cause that brought him to therapy (it could be a sort of homeopathy treatment). When the patient ceases to feel indignant of his therapist, that means he is close to the end of therapy.

20. Generally speaking, the cognitive behavior therapist must be Spontaneous Child, free from any feeling of guilt, loved by his friends and colleagues, that would examine everything with a smile and would never keep bad thought in his/her mind.

ericn said...

Someone commented that Obama was an F for the Meyer-Briggs, but Keirsey's website has him as an INTJ. They call him one of the more interesting peresonalities, having been heavily influenced by his mother. (

I think it's clear, that Obama is not your average liberal, idealist (i.e. Bill Richardson). When he talks about specific issues, he talks through them point by point. It's often noted that when he gives interviews, he is not as much of a show-stopper as when he gives speeches. But if you watch them carefully, you will see that his true personality is more practical and tactical than idealistic. This is his true personality. (i.e. In the San Francisco Chronicle interview he is extremely thoughtful. Fastforward to the end of the interview where he says something like, "All politicians want to do something good in Washington, but they come here and often aren't rewarded for doing the right things."He handled a difficult question well

Third, I think Obama has overly stated his emotional childhood for the sake of drama. He never needed therapy. He has handled pressure extraordinarily well. He is extremely comfortable in his own skin. You can call him the ultimate deceiver or whatever. But it's pretty obvious that he does not have emotional issues. There was one interview where he said he always thought he was a calm person, and one of the things he learned during the primary is that he really IS a calm person.

I think the combination of him being a strategically-minded and calm person is what enabled him to be effective in the Illinois State Senate (see Of course he also run an impressive campaign.

Finally, I think part of the reason people are calling Obama so cocky is that he is a good-looking guy in excellent health. Compared to the rest of us good-looking, healthy (and intelligent) guys, Obama looks downright humble.

Owned said...

Barack H. Obama: The Unauthorized Biography

Written by the author of the legendary 1992 expose of Bush the elder, this book works from a New Deal point of view. Obama is exposed as a foundation operative and agent of Wall Street finance capital, controlled by Zbigniew Brzezinski, George Soros, and Goldman Sachs. Obama's mother was an official of the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, and US AID. By all indications, Obama was identified for future political use by Brzezinski at Columbia in 1981-1983, during Obama's secret lost years. Obama has worked for the Gamaliel Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Woods Fund, and the Annenberg Foundation as a community organizer - a poverty pimp, a cynical opportunist who uses suffering people as a political commodity. The foundation strategy is divide and conquer, pitting blacks against whites against Hispanics against Asians, to prevent any challenge to Wall Street. Racist provocateurs like Wright and Pfleger, along with Weatherman terrorist bombers Ayers and Dohrn, Obama's best friends, are cast in this mold. Rezko, Auchi, and Al-Sammarae represent the cesspool of Chicago graft and corruption in which Obama cavorts. Schooled in Nietzsche and Fanon, Obama qualifies as a postmodern fascist. An Obama administration would strive for brutal economic sacrifice and austerity to finance Wall Street bailouts, and for imperialist confrontation with Russia and China.