America’s New Shrink?

I missed this article by Jonathan Alter until ShrinkWrapped brought it to my attention:
America’s New Shrink
Chin up, everyone. This president is well poised to bring us back from the brink.

In the article, Alter reaffirms his faith on Obama (emphasis added),

Because my take on Obama, based on conversations with him and his team stretching back more than four years and extending into the White House, is that he has a firm grasp of the psychological and substantive challenges of the presidency. Equally important, his 2008 campaign proved that he possesses a superior sense of timing. He knows that now is not the moment to cheerlead, not when the financial players are lying dazed on the field. There will be time for that, when the banks have been “restructured” (see, that sounds better than “nationalized”) and the credit starts flowing again.

The psychodynamics of the recession aren’t hard to fathom. The people need a vision. They need to see that the president is on their side (which is why he now spends a day a week on the road). And like seriously ill patients, they need a clear yet flexible action plan that takes them beyond blind optimism to well-founded hope.

I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I can read the language of faith when it’s put to use. As a college double major in marketing and economics, I also recognize a hard sell: notice how even the title exhorts us to “chin up” because the president will “bring us back from the brink”. Through our faith we will be healed.

Readers of this blog know that I have poked fun at the Messianic aspects of the Obama campaign. Now that the campaign is over and Obama’s descended from Olympus into office, we get the full propaganda treatment by a news magazine.

But ShrinkWrapped, who is a psychiatrist, looks at the Therapy Paradigms and Therapeutic Change, and the implications are dire:

In the first paradigm any action is divorced from talk, and thought. The patient is not expected to understand why he does what he does but is to take action under the authority and guidance of the wiser therapist. This kind of therapy risks making changes without appreciating the risks which will be the patient’s alone to bear.

Not coincidentally, this is the sort of “therapy” Oprah and her protege Dr. Phil bring to the TV screens every day. Oprah, after all, referred to Obama as “The One” on the campaign trail,

Now Oprah supposedly is looking for a house in Washington to be near Obama and was visiting the White House just last week. But I digress.

Alter refers to the current financial crisis as a “Reckoning”,

When the Reckoning came, nearly everyone started moving too far to the other extreme: no borrowing, just burrowing

again using the language of faith. We must believe,

because doing nothing amid adversity is not an option, at least not to Democrats.

However, responsible adults do not just “do” for the sake of doing. ShrinkWrapped explains why,

In the exploratory psychotherapies (Type 3) the goal is a complex two step procedure. One first attempts to as fully as possible understand one’s options and then take action, ie make behavioral changes, while bearing the risks and rewards of responsibility. Therapy without behavioral change risks turning into what has been derisively termed “mental masturbation” in which the patient and therapist talk and talk and talk and nothing ever changes. Talk can never be a substitute for action; it can be necessary as a prelude to action but talk without action is a choice for passivity in the face of life’s vicissitudes while action without talk risks unconsciously repeating the past patterns in disguise while surrendering one’s autonomy in the process.

“America’s New Shrink” doesn’t want the “stimulus” package under the microscope, hence the rush. And it’s not just the stimulus and the bailout, it’s also the omnibus bill and whatever else – possibly including record-high punitive taxes. All the while, the markets tank because investors are voting on the ruinous economic policies that are currently on the administration’s agenda.

As of the writing of this post the Dow is at 7149, down 217 points for the day.

JoshuaPundit looks at America’s New Shrink and sees Elmer Gantry.


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4 Responses to “America’s New Shrink?”

  1. expat Says:

    What we don’t need is a seesaw between “the sky is falling” and “happy days are here again.” We need solid information; we need to have facts put into perspective–not exaggerated for political manipulative purposes; and we need to identify priorities. I bet that if most people looked squarely at the worst thing that could happen to them, they could say “I could do this” or “I don’t really need that.” I bet that most could discover strengths they didn’t know they had and that when they find that bad had happened, but not the worst, they would roll up their sleeves and get on with things. I don’t think Obama believes in us. He thinks we need him. He is wrong. He is the needy one.

  2. Arius Says:

    Gerard Jackson in his article “Dark Clouds Gather as Obama Spooks the Markets” says it better than I can:

    “No amount of blustering by Obama and his media groupies can alter the fact that the markets have publicly tried him for economic incompetence and found him guilty. And he has been president for little more than a month. His comments on spending, taxes, salaries and investment have rightly persuaded markets that he is a complete economic ignoramus. It can be argued — and rightly so — that this is par for the course when it comes to American presidents. But Obama is different in that he has successfully conveyed the impression that he either thinks economics is complete bunk or that he doesn’t give a damn about economic laws. Either way, his attitude — unless he changes it — poses a grave threat to the economic welfare of the United States.”

  3. Pat Patterson Says:

    Not Elmer Gantry but I came up with Aimee Semple McPherson. Easy on the eye, able to string convincing homilies and factoids together with great believability and skill and ultimately found out after a rumored drunken weekend in the hideout in Mexico.


  4. Pat Patterson Says:

    Seems I messed up the link!