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Seeking a fully fleshed psychological profile of Bush43


A partial psychological analysis of Bush43 originally published in Truthout, Bush and the Psychology of Incompetent Decisions, has been flying about the web as received wisdom without further analysis among sites critical of POTUS, while encountering 'dead air' among sympathetic conservative sites. The result is a lack of critical assessment of the analysis from either side.

This note looks at the perils of antagonistic titles, the Truthout authors, general personality surveys, unantagonistic personality typing of Bush43, and a longing for a Gittinger-based Personality Assessment System (PAS) of POTUS. I can only imagine that a PAS, or its equivalent, has been done in various foreign capitals. Given the presence, even dominance, of PAS at CIA, I would have to surmise that it has also been done at Langley, if nothing else as a defensive measure, and, to some limited distribution, for insertion into war gaming scenarios.

[At CIA] in Langley, Virginia, psychoanalysts are currently reviewing audio recordings, videotapes, and biographical information on dozens of contemporary world leaders, using the principles of applied psychoanalysis to develop detailed profiles for use by the CIA and the U.S. government and military. According to political psychiatrist Jerrold M. Post, M.D., who has chronicled the history of "at-a-distance leader personality assessment in support of policy," the marriage of psychoanalysis and U.S. intelligence dates back to the early 1940s, when the Office of Strategic Services commissioned two studies of Adolf Hitler. The effort was regarded as enough of a success that it was institutionalized in the 1960s, Post writes, first under the aegis of the Psychiatric Staff of the CIA's Office of Medical Services, which "led to the establishment of the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior" (CAPPB), which Post founded within the Directorate of Intelligence.

As Post reveals, CIA psychological profiles of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin played an important role in Jimmy Carter's handling of the 1978 Camp David negotiations. And applied psychoanalysis continues to enjoy a privileged place in the intelligence universe.

I would like to see a full PAS done on POTUS, VPOTUS and all principle candidates for those two offices. Obviously, few to none of the holders or contenders would wish it, but I take it as a certainty that our major adversaries have done so and are now using the information in shaping their approach to the administration and potential incumbents.

Perils of antagonistic titles

Having long had an interest of personality profiling, I am one of many that would like to see an unambiguous, fully fleshed psychological profile of POTUS. While the Truthout item has some quite useful observations, it's title, Bush and the Psychology of Incompetent Decisions, telegraphs its intellectual position, robbing it of a presumption of fairness if not legitimacy. I submit my Dec 1, 2005, Leaching away of inside-the-beltway economic expertise, as a more even handed model:

As it is difficult to discuss the contribution of the White House to this current air of divisiveness without immediately gaining a partisan label or drawing a partisan attack, I recommend Karen Hult's The Bush White House in Comparative Perspective as she offers a sound underpinning of comparison to previous White Houses as she looks at three primary tasks of contemporary White Houses:

  • Coordination and supervision of the activities and people that comprise the modern presidency
  • Policy formulation and deliberation or "policy processing"
  • Outreach to external interests and the general public

Hult goes on to describe how the Bush43 White House responded to each, drawing similarities and differences with previous administrations. Worthwhile to get a sound basis for comparison as opposed to polemics from either the left or right.

Beyond that, there is personality which can shape performance of the administration and the White House. One could move to NYT Ron Suskind's Without a Doubt. After that, one could look for underpinnings of those actions in Justin Frank's Bush on the Couch, an unauthorized applied psychoanalysis of the president which created a tiff when released. The profile is not attractive and a new edition contains an "expanded epilogue that reviews the 2004 election and the start of Bush's second term" in which Frank concludes that the 2004 election "may have only made things worse." Frank is not easy to dismiss as two other unrelated profiles offer a similar analysis. The WP's Dan Froomkin held a public Q&A with Frank that is interesting.

The Truthout authors

As one interested in what has been written as well as who wrote it, the apparent father-son duo that wrote Bush and the Psychology of Incompetent Decisions comprise one psychotherapist (the elder) and one author (the younger), although errors abound in presumed education. For example, one blogger mistakenly wrote that "There's a very good article on Truthout by a pair of doctors about the psychological state of President Bush…"

John P. Briggs, MD (also found under John Briggs, MD) is the psychotherapist trained at William Alanson White Institute, later at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, but an initial sweep shows that there is little in the way of scholarly citations by which to gage the writings of the elder Briggs other than:

  • Member of a group of "former members who assisted in [the] formulation of The American Psychiatric Association's "Principles Underlying Interdisciplinary Relations between the Professions of Psychiatry and Psychology" in 1964.
  • Chairman, Committee on Public Information, of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis in 1968.
  • Wrote a foreward to Montague Ullman' Appreciating Dreams: A Group Approach.
  • Alum of Wayne State University School of Medicine, class of 1948.

J.P. Briggs II, PhD, is more an author of contemporary work, and whose likely contribution to the piece was prose and editing. I would like to know more about the authors, more so given their title, content notwithstanding. With so little professional citation extant, I was disheartened to see an absence of inquiry but then we habitually read what we are predisposed to believe. That is a potentially fatal condition for a good intel analyst.

General personality survey classifications

In The Mysterious Mr. Bush, Deepak Chopra, no less, has noted of Bush43:

[No] one since Richard Nixon has been such a mysterious personality. We've all had a chance to observe Bush closely, and insofar as the private person can be assessed, he displays a set of strange characteristics.

Chopra proceeds to provide "a long list of them, offered in a sense of genuine bafflement." Worth reviewing as they offer a glimpse into the difficulty of resolving complex, often contradictory issues of personalities.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test and its modifications by David Keirsey in the Keirsey Temperament Sorter are two procedures designed to identify significant personal preferences and temperaments, searching among four primary dichotomies: extraversion-introversion, sensing-intuitive, thinking-feeling and judging-perceiving.

Myers-Briggs, later Keirsey, became more useful for me once my initial black and white introduction was corrected and I learned that individuals had primary and secondary preferences, that preferences changed over time and under stress, that predictions needed careful nuance and that directional indicators may be the best the ordinary observer can get:

Virtually all personality systems employ some form of scaled interpretations of key characteristics.

Unantagonistic personality typing of Bush43

Whereas Bush41 was an ISFJ, Bush43 is generally considered an ESTJ. While both in Keirsey's terms "belong to the temperament of the Guardians," Bush41 is in the category called Protectors and Bush41 in the category called Supervisors.

While Myers-Briggs would cascade Type ESTJ as:

  • Dominant or first: Extraverted Thinking
  • Auxiliary or second: Introverted Sensing
  • Tertiary or third: Extraverted Intuition
  • Inferior or fourth: Introverted Feeling

I suggest Keirsey's Portrait of the Supervisor (eStJ) is more immediately useful. Read Laura Miller's The inner W. which properly comments on a lack of precision in Frank's Bush on the Couchbut does not contest his diagnosis of POTUS as "an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies." Miller also draws our attention to Singer's The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush and Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House: Psychologists Assess the Presidents by Rubenzer and Faschingbauer. Weisberg's The Misunderestimated Man describes the compensations that Bush43 adopted that make him appear stupid when he is not. And in another of those poorly titled works, look at the analysis of Bush43's ESTJ in The Wrong Stuff: Why is Bush So Incompetent? Read the opening pages of Bush on the Couch describing his mother's direct parenting. It does not paint an attractive picture. You can now go back and read Briggs & Briggs' Bush and the Psychology of Incompetent Decisions as you will have better context to evaluate it.

Still, they all fall short of the desired precision, of the capacity for refined prediction.

Gittinger's Personality Assessment System (PAS)

The gold standard in personality evaluation and behavioral prediction is the Personality Assessment System (PAS) developed by John W. Gittinger. (First read the 'about' from the PAS foundation and then the article on Gittinger by John Marks from The Search for the Manchurian Candidate. While PASF cites the Marks' item and properly flags it as anti-CIA, it does contain quite a bit of relevant background and clinical application within the agency.). Then jump to the Summary of the Theory of the PAS:

The Personality Assessment System (PAS) [was] developed originally as a clinical method for describing the dynamics and adjustments of mental disfunction. It has since had wide application as a technique for general psychological assessment… There is nothing unique about the assessment process for it is something that each person, in his own way, carries on almost continuously. The purpose of assessment is to make possible predictions about another's future behavior so that one's own behavior can be appropriate… The PAS has an advantage in that the information required for prediction of future behavior can be obtained with an easily administered psychological test

Conversely, where test results cannot be obtained, the PAS provides a framework for "reconstructing" the personality that underlies the observed behavior (York, 1964). The reconstructed personality pattern can then be the basis for useful behavior prediction. This process can be applied analytically by clinicians skilled in the use of the PAS model or the process can be made more rigorous with any of the indirect assessment instruments that have been developed within the context of PAS methodology. Also important is the fact that the PAS methodology provides a way of communicating the particulars of a subject's position in PAS "space" with less equivocation than possible with a less descriptively and objectively oriented system. This feature is the outcome of a notational system described below.

From the viewpoint of practical application, PAS contributes to the prediction of behavior in several ways:

  • It indicates the kinds of internal and external cues the individual is most likely to respond to overtly;
  • It suggests the types of stimuli most likely to produce behavior change;
  • It provides an understanding of the quality of environments in which the individual is most likely to behave efficiently;
  • It offers insight into situations that are stressful for the individual;
  • It permits prediction of the probable nature of maladjusted behavior, should maladjusted behavior occur.

The Personaility Assessment System thus contributes to individual assessment by providing practical insights into a highly personalized pattern of strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, the system allows objective comparisons among the personality features of different individuals, thereby offering a suitable framework for behavioral research and definitive investigations of personality structure and function...

The PAS was derived originally from the use of the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale, Form I (Wechsler, 1944). Experience has shown that the PAS can be used with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale or WAIS (Wechsler, 1955, 1958) and with all later adaptations… Finally, although the Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children (WISC) has not been used very much with PAS, there is some evidence (Saunders, 1961b) that the system is appropriate.

PAS derives an individual's pattern by comparing each of his Wechsler or WAIS weighted subtest scores to his own calculated norm. This norm, termed the person's Normal Level, is estimated by a theory-generated weighted system that is applied to ten subtests, excluding Vocabulary. While Normal Level can be considered an estimate of an individual's over-all capability, its importance to PAS, for the purpose of this introduction, is that it provides a baseline from which the influence of personality on test performance can be quantitatively measured. Note particularly that, in the PAS model, pattern analysis of sub-test scores is made upon deviations of a subject's scores from the subject's is own, unique, standard. The PAS does not use a normative baseline from which to assess subtest scatter. Subtest deviation scores are, in the PAS, ipsitive data, not normative data. The method of computing Normal Level is discussed in another section of this Web site.

If you've come this far, you might visit:

As noted in the opening, I'd like to see a PAS done on POTUS, VPOTUS and all principle candidates for those two offices. It is a near certainty that our major adversaries have done it, or purchased it, and are now using the information in shaping their approach to the administration and potential incumbents.

What a shame that we as an electorate must go without.

The Mysterious Mr. Bush
Posted by Deepak Chopra
January 22, 2007 07:35 AM

Bush and the Psychology of Incompetent Decisions
By John P. Briggs, MD, and J.P. Briggs II, PhD
Guest Contributors
Thursday 18 January 2007

Andrew Stephen
New Statesman
Published 13 November 2006

The Misunderestimated Man: How Bush chose stupidity
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006, at 6:39 AM ET
[Originally published May 7, 2004]

Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House: Psychologists Assess the Presidents
by Steve Rubenzer, Ph.D. and Tom Faschingbauer, Ph.D.
Brassey's, Inc., ISBN: 1-57488-815-3, 2004
Google book preview (selected pages) Recommended as the preview explains the personality measurement. See below:

Foundation for the Study of Personality in History
The Long form test (more accurate, 300 items) which you can take of the IPIP-NEO (International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO PI-R™)

A presidential personality
Intelligence and achievement-striving--but not straightforwardness--may predict the newly elected president's effectiveness.
Monitor Staff
Volume 35, No. 10 November 2004

Bush’s 'cognitive functioning' worries observers
by Andrew Stephen
Observer (UK)
Oct. 17, 2004

The inner W.
Three new psychological portraits of George W. Bush paint him as a control freak driven by rage, fear and an almost murderous Oedipal competition with his father. And that's before we get to Mom.
By Laura Miller
June 16, 2004

What's going on inside the White House?
Interview with Justin Frank, Georgetown psychoanalyst and author of "Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President," an unauthorized "applied psychoanalysis" of the president.
Dan Froomkin
White House Briefing Columnist
White House Talk
June 16, 2004; 1:00 PM

Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President
By Justin A. Frank, M.D.
Harper Collins

The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush
by Peter Singer
ISBN-10: 0525948139
March 2004

Myers Briggs, XYZ Leadership, and Team Roles
by David M. Boje
January 21, 2001

Career Assessment With the Personality Assessment System
C.J. Krauskopf, Ohio State University; D.R. Saunders, MARS Measurement Associates Chapel Hill, NC
Journal of Career Assessment, Vol. 3, No. 4, 241-257 (1995)
DOI: 10.1177/106907279500300401

Personality and Ability: The Personality Assessment System
Krauskopf, Charles J.; Saunders, David R.
Rowman & Littlefield Pub Group
ISBN10: 0819192813, ISBN13: 97808191928110

Presidential Personality: Biographical Use of the Gough Adjective Check List
Dean Keith Simonton
University of California, Davis
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Copyright 1986 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
1986, Vol. 5 I. No. I, 149-160

Chapter 10. The Gittinger Assessment System
The Search for the Manchurian Candidate
The CIA and Mind Control
John Marks
Times Books, ISBN 0-8129-0773-6, 1978

Gordon Housworth

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