Thursday, December 22, 2005


Speaking as a psychiatrist, I have to compliment Victor Davis Hanson for his perceptive insight into the motivation of some of the loudest detractors of President Bush.

And, of course, he is also correct that a little empathy and listening would probably have gone a long way, if the President had chosen to do that and stroke the egos of the men involved. It does seem, however, that the President has his hands full every day stroking the egos of just the people who mostly agree with him.

This entire process is not dissimilar to what is done in psychotherapy. An adversarial relationship between patient and therapist is inevitably counterproductive and generally does not lead to positive results. Consider, though, that one therapist might have a caseload of several hundred clients. Sometimes it is difficult to be completely empathetic and responsive every day to everyone. The therapist is human after all. That is, of course, exactly what most patients need to learn to accept and cope with in life.

The President, too, is only human. The burdens of the person in that office only seem to get heavier and more demanding and more life and death with each administration. I can only imagine what it is like to have to live under such crushing responsibility.

However, one would optimally wish that our elected representatives would not need such continual "stroking" (as if they were Hollywood celebrities) and that the entire country would not have to suffer because of a blow to the narcissism of their congressperson. One might also hope that they could cut the President some slack (particularly since they expect to receive it from him). Maybe they all think they would do a better job? So, perhaps it is too much to expect that degree of maturity from elected representatives.

That's when you have to remember that all the people involved in government are only human, after all. I'm sure that all of them--even the President-- have "Murtha moments".

Group hug, anyone?

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