Friday, November 18, 2011

What's behind Obama Derangement Sydrome?

Some of you will remember that a few months ago a psychologist by the name of Drew Westen published a particularly obnoxious critique of President Obama that garnered a good bit of attention. Well, he's still at it.

I'm not going to go into dealing with all the lies and distortions in this one. Jonathan Bernstein did a good job of that. But when I read Westen's piece last night what struck me is that he is clearly suffering from what has been called Obama Derangement Syndrome. Sometimes that term has been used to describe the "white-hot hatred" towards Obama expressed by people like Glenn Beck. But many of us have seen the same kind of irrational reaction on the left from folks like Westen.

I'm not talking here about all the poutragers who wail about the President. Some of them are simply misinformed or stuck in outrage mode going back to either the Bush years or the 60's. There's something about Westen's criticisms that remind me of a select group of people for whom their dislike of President Obama seems personal. We could argue over who fits in that category, but I'd place people like Cornel West and Jane Hamsher firmly in that camp. One thing that might distinguish this group is that you would be hard pressed to find ANYTHING the President did that they would acknowledge as positive. I have no problem with rational critiques. But its hard to imagine a human being who couldn't occasionally get something right. That's when it starts to feel personal.

As I was thinking about this, I read a comment from the article by Bernstein on Westen's piece.

A little clue as to Drew's behavior re the Obama people from a conversation that I had with him at the APA (American Psychological Association) Convention in 2009 in Toronto. He was quite angry that the Obama people had brought him in for some conversations during the campaign but had then decided to "ignore" his suggestions. He wants so badly to be a player. My guess is he decided that his work with a colleague on a psychodynamic-based card-sorting test was going nowhere (Google "Shedler-Westen Assessment" or "SWAP." It is a card sorting game to diagnose a patient (seriously), and the field is ignoring it.) With that door closing he decided that he needed to move on over to the field of psychologist/pundit. The Obama crowd talked to him (what he calls having been an adviser to the campaign. We will leave it at that) and then (for some reason) they stopped talking to him. I have some thoughts on why this happened but will leave them unsaid. So, yes, he is angry at the Obama Administration and considers them incompetent. They failed his greatest test: paying attention to him. (a suggestion to help with understanding Drew: google this phrase: "DSM 301.81")

So what is DSM 301.81? Its not too difficult to guess...Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And yes, I suspect that its just another name for Obama Derangement Syndrome.


  1. Oh yes, SP, Obama Derangement Syndrome it definitely seems to be. I would add Maureen Dowd to that list. Her constant disdain of President Obama in her articles strike me as deeply personal. It's almost as if she feels personally rebuffed by him - almost like a woman scorned.

    I sure hope I am wrong about that, but these instances of what seem to be almost pathological hatred are quite disturbing.

    Finally, what you said: "But its hard to imagine a human being who couldn't occasionally get something right." Ain't that the truth!?!

  2. Their whole attitude is "they helped elect him!" and they expected a pay-off for that, in terms of access, policy setting, or just general getting their asses kissed. When it didn't materialize, they just went off the rails.

    Heck, I helped elect him too. What did I expect? Well, that I would get a large coffee at the local convenience store for $1.50. If I hadn't helped elect him, the coffee would cost me a buck and a half. After all, I'm an influential blogger, don't you know. (No, I can't say that with a straight face)

  3. The Narcissists do seem to be disproportionately represented in the media/punditocracy/activists. Guess it comes with the territory.

  4. Mo'nin', Ms. Pants

    so true. SO true.

    The narcisisstic wound. And, overwhelmingly, it tends to present in the same passive-aggressive fashion. Benen, as you know, pointed this latest Westen crap, too.

    What, amongst any number of other things that impress the hell outa me re: PBO, is his ability to spot on recognize that tendency and STAY AWAY from them.

    And, the ones he does have, he manages rather well.