At the risk of sounding like Rodney (“I get no respect”) Dangerfield, I confess that, in reaching out to interview prominent people, I rarely even get a return phone call. For example, take Oliver Stone. (Please.)
I’ve long admired Stone as the film chronicler of my generation. In 2012, however, when I wanted to review his 10-part documentary on Showtime, The Untold History of the United States, I wound up feeling just like Rodney.
I finally reached Stone’s PR spokesperson but, to my chagrin, he abruptly inquired about the Daily Press’ circulation. Sensing a possible dead end, I doubled it. That’s when he rudely cut me off, “Sorry, Oliver doesn’t have time for small circulation periodicals,” and hung up. (Ouch!)
Ever hopeful, in 2016 I impulsively contacted Dr. Justin A. Frank, M.D. a renowned psychiatrist, George Washington University med school professor and best-selling author. I was a big fan of his Bush on the Couch, and Obama on the Couch, books about how childhood traumas affected their presidencies. Trump had just won the Republican nomination and I thought perhaps a Trump on the Couch might reveal his lack of fitness to be POTUS.
Though he didn’t know me, Dr. Frank called back almost within the hour. (Meaning, he could never work PR for Stone.) He shared that I wasn’t the only one suggesting he do a Trump book and that he’d be contacting his agent.
A few weeks later he emailed that his agent indicated it wouldn’t be “commercial.” I strongly disagreed. (Suddenly, I’m an expert on book merchandising?) A month later, Dr. Frank enthusiastically reported he’d received a publisher’s advance but he had two caveats. One, Trump would have to win the presidency and, two, it’d take him 18 months to research and write the book.
Win the presidency? I joked, “In that case, let’s hope you don’t write the book.” Unfortunately, Trump won in 2016. (With a little help from his friends, Russia!) Fortunately, Trump on the Couch has just arrived in bookstores. In my opinion, it’s the best of his 3 books. (Dr. Frank muses he only hopes he never writes Pence on the Couch.)
Trump on the Couch is a copiously researched page-turner. In it, Dr. Frank confirms that our current POTUS is deeply disturbed with its roots tracing back to before he could walk or talk. (He Frank provides evidence Trump is dyslexic, which makes the “talk” part debatable.)
When little Donnie Johnny was 2, his mother, Mary, gave birth to his younger brother, Robert, but the delivery became life threatening. Trump’s tyrannical father, Fred, informed his kids to continue their normal routine and he’d let them know if/when she was dead. (Subtle, he wasn’t.)
Returning home, Mary was far less interested in mothering. Not coincidentally, Trump at age 5 was caught throwing rocks at his neighbor’s child. The 2-year-old was outside happily in the playpen but a helpless target for diabolical Donnie. (Even scarier, Trump admits he’s essentially the same person now as he was in the first grade.)
Trump’s fears of his overbearing father were likely the source of his bullying. Ever rebellious, Donnie was constantly in detention at school and had a perverse fascination with knives.(Not usually a good combination.) He and a friend would take the subway to sneak into Manhattan to buy switchblades.
When Fred Sr. discovered Donnie’s considerable collection it was the last straw. He swiftly banished his 13-year-old to military school, which only exacerbated Trump’s sadistic ways. Dr. Frank theorizes that, just as Fred Sr. kicked Trump out of his Queens house, The Donald sees Robert Mueller as intent on kicking him out of the White House. (If only.)
Trump’s older brother, Fred Jr. was the heir apparent to his father’s low-income housing empire, substantially built off cheating the government. Fred Jr. was so ashamed when his father’s scandals reached the U.S. Senate, he eventually left the business.
Determined, Fred Jr. became a pilot for TWA. But Fred Sr. scoffed and a jealous, Donald belittled his older brother, “You’re just a bus driver in the sky.” (Like father, like son only worse?) Sadly, Fred Jr. drank himself to death at 42. Donald doesn’t drink, he tweets.
In Trump on the Couch, Dr. Frank provides psychological insights into Trump’s extreme narcissism, racism, misogyny (including pu**y-grabbing), pathological lying and, yes, fear of going bald. I highly recommend the book. If Trump does indeed drive you crazy, the book is actually comforting to see documented what we’ve always suspected. (If you’re a Trump fan, you still might find it interesting.)
If I had one wish regarding Trump, I suppose it’d be that Robert Mueller does to him at 72, what Fred Sr. did to him at 13, and banish Donald. As Rodney Dangerfield might have lamented, “A guy can dream, can’t he?”
For a more conventional book review, Google “Guardian Newspaper Trump on the Couch.” Dr. Frank’s book is available at bookstores everywhere and at Amazon.com. Jack can be reached at email@example.com