Post, Jerrold M. 1934-

views updated

Post, Jerrold M. 1934-

PERSONAL:

Born 1934. Education: Yale University, B.A. (magna cum laude), M.D.; attended Harvard Medical School, National Institute of Mental Health, and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

ADDRESSES:

Office—1957 E St. NW, Ste. 600-F, Washington, DC 20052. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Psychiatrist and author of nonfiction. Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA, employed for twenty-one years, director of the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior; George Washington University, Washington, DC, currently professor of psychiatry, political psychology, and international affairs, and director of Political Psychology Program.

MEMBER:

International Society of Political Psychology (founding member, vice president, 1994—); American Psychiatric Association (life fellow, chair of Task Force for National and International Terrorism and Violence); American College of Psychiatrists.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Intelligence Medal of Merit, Central Intelligence Agency, 1979; Studies in Intelligence Award, Central Intelligence Agency, 1980; Nevitt Sanford Award for distinguished professional contributions to political psychology, International Society of Political Psychology, 2002.

WRITINGS:

(With Robert S. Robins) When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive King, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1993.

(With Robert S. Robins) Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1997.

(With Sha'ul Kimhi and Shemu'el Even) Yasir Arafat: Deyokan psikhologi ve-nituah astrategi, Makhon ha-benle'umi li-mediniyut neged teror (Hertseliyah, Israel), 2001.

(With Amatzia Baram) Saddam Is Iraq: Iraq Is Saddam, USAF Counterproliferation Center (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL), 2002.

(Editor, with Barry Schneider) Know Thy Enemy: Profiles of Adversary Leaders and Their Strategic Cultures, USAF Counterproliferation Center (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL), 2003.

The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders: With Profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2003.

Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2004.

Military Studies in the Jihad against the Tyrants: The Al-Qaeda Training Manual, USAF Counterproliferation Center (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL), 2005.

The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to Al Qaeda, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2007.

Served on editorial board of Political Psychology, 1987—. Widely published articles on crisis decision-making, leadership, the psychology of political violence, and terrorism.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jerrold M. Post is a professor of psychiatry, political psychology, and international affairs at George Washington University. During his twenty-one years with the Central Intelligence Agency, Post founded and directed the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior. Post then went on to teach and publish widely, although he continued consulting for the U.S. government, including ongoing analysis of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from the invasion of Kuwait until Hussein's capture by U.S. forces in 2003.

Post's first book, When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive King, written with Robert S. Robins, is "a huge compendium of ill, mad, or bad leaders, some famous, many unknown" and "an entertaining and compelling read," according to Irvine Loudon, reviewing the book for the Lancet. Post, a psychiatrist, and Robins, a political scientist, worked together to create what Jacob Ernest Cooke, in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, described as "the most comprehensive study yet written of disabling illness among national rulers." Loudon and Cooke, among others, did express reservations about the book, citing apparent factual errors and a confusing and tedious organization. Nonetheless, a reviewer writing for the Economist declared that the book is "a persuasive case for giving more attention to what to do when world leaders suffer serious ailments" and especially applauded the book's final chapter, which includes specific policy suggestions.

Post and Robins followed When Illness Strikes the Leader with Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred. Reviewing this book for Arena magazine, Tony Elias noted that "the virtue, as much as the problem, of this book is the vast scope from which it draws, detailing the psychopolitics of the Jonestown community in Guyana, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, Shoko Asahara and the Aura Shinrikyo cult, the Islamic fundamentalism of the Hezbollah and Al-Jihad, Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, the extremist Zionism of the Gush Emunim underground, the Christian fundamentalisms of the United States, the Aryan Nation and Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society and the films of Oliver Stone." Despite the "frequent sloppiness" of the authors' analysis, Elias felt Political Paranoia fared better than other works in this field. Other reviewers received the book more favorably. Philip E. Tetlock of the American Political Science Review was impressed that "the authors steer clear, by and large, of arguably the most common pitfall in political-psychological analysis: the tendency to coopt a psychological vocabulary to belittle or stigmatize points of view that one finds objectionable." Writing for the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Miles F. Shore concluded that "Political Paranoia is clearly and straightforwardly written, remarkably free from either academic or psychological jargon. It will be useful to anyone who wishes to approach events of the past, or of the future, armed with background about the phenomena of paranoia in politics."

In his next project, Post worked with Amatzia Baram to write Saddam Is Iraq: Iraq Is Saddam, which details the intimate psychological connection between Saddam Hussein and his nation just prior to the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ultimately led to the leader's flight, capture, and execution. In an article written for Naval War College Review, Brenda L. Connors described the book as demonstrating that "beneath [Hussein's] grandiosity lies devastating psychological trauma for which grandiosity is only partially an effective compensation. Post and Baram relate the story of Saddam's early life in great detail to construct a picture of his fundamental psychology…. They build their argument convincingly and offer insights by intimately connecting Saddam's ‘psychological architecture’ to domestic and foreign policies."

Post then worked with Barry Schneider to edit the anthology Know Thy Enemy: Profiles of Adversary Leaders and Their Strategic Cultures. This anthology calls on an impressive array of experts to argue that the United States needs to develop a more nuanced appreciation of threatening world leaders and their "strategic cultures." The book includes essays on theoretical strategic approaches and seven profiles of specific contemporary world leaders. Again writing for the Naval War College Review, Connors complained of the book's "lack of any systematic methodological discussion"—especially a clear and formal definition of "strategic culture"—and its reliance on "an outdated theoretical approach that ultimately handicaps what it set out to do—assess adversaries." Nonetheless, she felt that "this work provides a serious guide to today's ‘hottest’ adversaries and their weapons of mass destruction. Through well researched history, biography, and analysis of the cultural and strategic setting, this book acquaints readers with today's enemies and invites them to ponder critically the propensity of these enemies to use their weapons."

Post next wrote The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders: With Profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton, which gives a brief overview of the history of political psychological profiling, then discusses the methods used, illustrating these with profiles of Hussein and Clinton. His next book, Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior, is a culmination of Post's work in political psychology. Rose McDermott lauded Post in Political Science Quarterly for having written the "first comprehensive integration of a number of important strands of analysis. Combining research on aging, leadership, stress, group behavior, terrorism, and personality, Post draws on psychoanalytic, social psychological, developmental, and clinical theories to delineate the influence of powerful leaders over vulnerable followers." The resulting work, wrote McDermott, is "engaging and enlightening for anyone interested in the nature, quality, and context of leadership."

Post then wrote two books focused on modern terrorism: Military Studies in the Jihad against the Tyrants: The Al-Qaeda Training Manual and The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to Al Qaeda. The latter is a scholarly analysis of contemporary and past terrorist cells, breaking them into three broad categories: those carrying out acts of vengeance, social revolutionaries, and those "killing in the name of God." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called this book a "well-presented body of knowledge likely to be helpful in understanding these violent organized groups."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Journal of Psychiatry, December 1, 1994, Garfield Tourney, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive King, p. 1833.

American Political Science Review, September 1, 2000, Philip E. Tetlock, review of Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred, p. 753.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March 1, 1999, Austin Turk, review of Political Paranoia, p. 215.

Arena, February 1, 1999, Tony Elias, review of Political Paranoia, p. 52.

British Medical Journal, September 11, 1993, Tony Smith, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 691.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December 1, 2003, R.H. Deckmejian, review of The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders: With Profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton, p. 780; March 1, 2005, R.H. Dekmejian, review of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior, p. 1298.

Economist, June 19, 1993, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 109.

JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, November 24, 1993, Ira M. Rutkow, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 2498; September 10, 2003, Dean Keith Simonton, review of The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders, p. 1386.

Journal of American History, June 1, 1994, Robert H. Ferrell, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 237.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, January 1, 1995, Jacob Ernest Cooke, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 476; June 22, 1998, Miles F. Shore, review of Political Paranoia, p. 123.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2007, review of The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to Al Qaeda.

Lancet, June 19, 1993, Irvine Loudon, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 1582.

Library Journal, February 15, 1993, Karl Helicher, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 187; October 15, 1997, Stephen L. Hupp, review of Political Paranoia, p. 77.

Naval War College Review, January 1, 2004, "A Reflection of Saddam's Biography," p. 113; September 22, 2004, Brenda L. Connors, review of Know Thy Enemy: Profiles of Adversary Leaders and Their Strategic Cultures, p. 160.

New England Journal of Medicine, November 4, 1993, Edward J. Burger, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 1431.

New Yorker, October 28, 2002, "Saddam on the Couch."

Orbis, January 1, 1994, Carroll A. Weinberg, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 132.

Perspectives on Political Science, June 22, 2006, Ted Rueter, review of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World, p. 179.

Political Science Quarterly, December 22, 2005, Rose McDermott, review of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World, p. 681.

Politics and the Life Sciences, February 1, 1994, Bert E. Park, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 154.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, September 22, 1993, Barbara Kellerman, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 807.

Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, December 22, 1996, James M. Glass, review of When Illness Strikes the Leader, p. 323.

ONLINE

ABC Australia Web site,http://www.abc.net.au/ (October 22, 2001), Liz Jackson, "A Mission to Die For," transcript of interview with author.

Guardian Unlimited Web site,http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (November 14, 2002), Julian Borger, "Saddam, Tell Me about Your Mum."

About this article

Post, Jerrold M. 1934-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article