Underdog Psychology

David Brooks as psychologist? He wrote a great opinion piece for the New York Times today ((Source: Thinking About Obama)) on the psychology of Barack Obama. Brooks is certainly conservative but he is always level-headed and critical – that’s why I like his editorials. I suppose in his logical, dispassionate analytics he finds Obama a kindred spirit. Of course, by the end of the article he raises his elephant flag but up to that point he gives a fair and cogent psychological analysis.

I’ve read both of Obama’s books and admire his story. Even now, campaigning against an American hero that casts a long shadow, Obama’s back story is still very compelling. It’s not compelling in the way McCain’s biography is compelling but it is a story – in many ways – of what it means to be an American. His history is not heroic or glorious but it is remarkable nevertheless. He began life as an underdog and through perseverance and determination he slowly made his way to where he is today. I believe a dispassionate, skeptical leader is what America needs right now. Like Brooks says in his article, Obama doesn’t need us … we need him.

2 comments On Underdog Psychology

  • I’m very glad to see the Brooks column and its mention of homeostasis of the personality. I believe it’s the first time I’ve seen it used that way in national media. Though mainly known as a physiologic term, it applies just as well to psychology, and to society, as I’ve tried to show elsewhere. IMHO, it’s a critical concept, especially for the nation just now – the dynamic equilibrium of a system, its balance, worked out by responding to feedback signals of all types. Just imagine (!) how good it would be to “do politics” by searching for the long-range survival balance (whatever the problem), instead of yelling labels and doctrines at each other. That’s what I see in Obama, a man who seems to go beyond labels, who has the concepts and personal stability to lead both “with heart and mind” toward something much better than we have now. “Don”/ Donivan Bessinger

  • A really great article, I would not have minded an attempt to go into more psychological depth though. A certainly hope Obama will achieve more than it is seeming he will.

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