Barack Hussein Obama
© Arnold Holtzman, Ph.D. (September 2009)

If you are a student in the behavioral sciences, a psychologist, therapist or academician this is for you.

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Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama

44th and current President of the United States.

Barack Hussein Obama is the first African American to hold this office. He served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.

The psychological analysis and personality profile that follows below will extend in every respect from material appearing in The Illustrated Textbook of Psychodiagnostic Chirology in Analysis and Therapy. Published in 2004 this textbook has reached students and practitioners in the behavioral sciences in 80 countries, and on all the continents.

This is meant to underline the thoroughly scientific foundations of PDC as a comprehensive biometric discipline in psychological diagnosis. It lends itself perfectly to testing under laboratory conditions so that each one of these students and practitioners, without exception and wherever they may be found, would deliver the very same definition of the president's personality makeup. There is no diagnostic tool, or battery of such tools, presently available to the professional behavioral specialist, that matches this and would be the equal of PDC in validity, reliability, speed, and comprehensiveness.

It is conceivable that many, if not all, of the constructions in the president's personality as introduced below will be challenged. In a number of respects these would be in perfect contradiction to his public and carefully processed image. But trust inexorable time to effect its unforgiving habit of exposing what is really there.

Our thanks to Mr. Martijn van Mensvoort from the Netherlands ( for sharing these photos with us.

The Complete Narcissist

een here is a familiar photograph of the president's left hand. He is said to be left handed. But this does not necessarily make his left hand the dominant hand. What determines dominance in a PDC analysis is which hand "sits" on top when the hands are clenched. It is, in fact, President Obama's left hand. (Fig. 1b: see illustrations on page 62). In many people the reverse is true. Normally this suggests that weight falls primarily on inherited features rather than learned quantities. But both hands have "stories" as it were, and in some way everything finds expression. Very often the differences between the two hands reveal how the individual has evolved... how the personality had realized adjustments over the years. With President Obama we find these adjustments manifesting primarily in the entrenchment of defenses.

Narcissism is a manifest expression of these defenses. To compensate for the serious deficiencies experienced in his earliest years - deficiencies which would have had him identify with low self-esteem and a debilitating sense of gross insufficiency, the urgency not to risk such exposure delivers a program in personality that has this person go to absolute extremes - in chronic and compulsive fashion - to be rewarded with positive attention and recognition. This is a feature that can extend a lifetime and would have this person act out an inherent, unchallenged, superiority in any assembly of people.

The Negative Oral Personality: see text and illustrations from page 153

We can envision the experience of the neonate - the newborn infant - as it enters the world external to the womb. The mother collects it into her arms and all the infant's libidinal needs and drives quickly find their natural targets on its mother's body. So what we have is the infant's virtually "organic" attachment to its mother. The infant has no existance apart from the mother, and the mother enjoys the experience of her infant as a natural extension of her own body. The two are, in fact, one. Given this marvelous bond between them the infant knows a sense of belonging and attachment. In its state of total dependency on this body greater than itself it is totally secure and its well-being never in doubt.

The waist formation at the base phalange of President Obama's little finger tells us that in his earliest developmental phases this was not his experience... that the very reverse was true. Painful stresses of some order, possibly of a physical nature, had overtaken his sensibilities and sensitivities. So that at a time when he was in a wholly and totally dependent state his circumstances were at their most terrible. This person would feel that directly behind his back was a terrifying chasm and that there were always forces pulling him into it. The need to keep at a distance from the edge of the precipice often persists a lifetime.

So the determined striving for strong and absolute controls, and the fears that would overtake him if he was ever utterly dependent on anyone for anything, would be the first and most manifest expressions of this crisis originating in his very earliest developmental phase.

Cognitive Dissonance: see text and illustrations on page 133

In fig. 1a note the circle at the thumb which encloses the lines leading to the edge of the palm. These lines include the Thenar Line (which some like to call the Line of Life), and the Lower Transverse Line (to many, the Line of Head). The attachment of these lines at this juncture describes how information accessed from the person's external physical and material world of reality is absorbed and processed.

Normally the Thenar Line and the Lower Transverse Line meet at the very edge of the palm. This promises an accurate perception of reality and a balanced processing of this information. There are a number of variations which will describe cognitive styles but which remain in line with the norm.

What we find with President Obama is a dermatoglyphic configuration best described as confusing, if not decidedly unhealthy. There is no natural continuity to the Thenar Line, a section of which dislocates and breaks the continuity of the Lower Transverse Line. What this promises is a condition where information is absorbed with distortions and gets processed with distortions. President Obama will often have a conception of reality that would diverge, sometimes considerably, from what most other people would see and understand. This, in turn, would have him experience disparities between his expectations and reality - a condition that promises a chronic, if low level, anxiety condition.

The dermatoglyphic configuration on the right hand shows a greater efficiency in the absorbtion and processing of information. But even here we find a measure of troubling imbalance. Further on we discuss intellectualizations and rationalizations, compulsive personality traits, and attitude patterns which suffer a certain paranoid quality. It would not be wrong to associate those developments with President Obama's efforts to check and rein in these distortions to his cognitive functions.

Split Loyalties: see text and illustrations from page 207

This construction in personality is seen in the slight tilt of the upper phalange of the middle finger toward the ring finger. However slight this "kink" may appear, its significance registers as a most serious construct in the psychical makeup of the individual.

It does not appear on his right hand, which is fortunate. My guess - and it is only a guess - is that this correction was effected by the powerful defences we soon describe. Nevertheless, not even these defences diminish what this construction describes. Instead, we may visualize periods, perhaps even extended periods, where the president finds himself insulated from the effects of this chapter in his history.

A child normally finds himself an integral part of a family unit defined by a mother on one side and a father on the other. Among the positive experiences the child records for itself in this arrangement is that its existence is wholly secured. He is given a grasp of a world where order and organization define its boundaries. He learns to recognize his place in a world of possibilities, of values, and of relationships. Again, it would be the sense of order and organization that a secure mother/father environment delivers to the child that fixes the ground under his feet.

Where we come upon the Split Loyalties factor we know that that secure mother/father environment was not afforded the child. It was not afforded Barack Hussein Obama.

More often than not the Split Loyalty factor comes about when the parents do not get along with each other... when they are inclined, demonstratively, to go their separate ways. This can happen even when they continue to live under the same roof. The price the child pays can linger a lifetime. Imagine a child sitting high in a tree that is crashing heavily to the ground. Imagine further what impossible fears must overtake this child, when, so utterly helpless, it knows that in another split second it will be crushed against the rocks. This paralyzing fear is never forgotten. It may not be available to conscious memory, but at a subconscious dimension the panic persists.

Consider also that because the child is still subject to Piaget's magical thinking where both parents serve as his models, problems of ambivalence and uncertainties in decision making often undermine the evolvement of a consolidated and genuine sense of Self.

To this day President Obama is without a consolidated sense of Self. He is without any trace of a singular core identity. (More about this later). These impossible, crushing, fears never let go their grip on the mind of an individual. They persist through the better part of a person's life and manifest as a proneness to chronic anxieties. This is President Obama's heritage from his very early days, and almost everything that follows will detail his responses to this troubling early history. These responses are the powerful defenses he enlisted. And it would be the entire gamut of these defenses, so deeply entrenched in his personality, that define the Barack Hussein Obama that the people of the United States of America now have as their president.

This brings us to several photos that expose the primacy of a cerebral discipline in lieu of whatever may be the genuine and inherent emotional temper of President Obama's inner world environment. This is just another way of saying that thinking will always replace feeling... that what may appear as a meaningful emotional response to an experience of any order is never that at all. It would be a cerebrally calculated response that would represent what the president would consider to be the most fitting, most appropriate, and invariably the most advantageous response. Everything originates from the head. Very little, if anything, from the heart. We come to the first major defense program...

Intellectualizations and Rationalizations: see text and illustrations from page 315

Intellectualizations and rationalizations are identified as entrenched cerebral defenses when the base phalanges of the middle and ring fingers show a distinct waist, or narrowing. As seen here in fig. 2, and the inset at fig. 2a, these base phalanges are decidedly wedge shaped. This suggests a severity factor which verges on the absolute - say 10:10.

In the report I would deliver to a profesional behavioral therapist who referred a client showing this defensive organization, the very first line would be a warning not to build any program of therapy based on how this individual would represent himself, or herself. Everything the therapist would hear would be perfectly logical, reasonable, appropriate, balanced, and entirely understandable. There would be a perfect alignment between cause and effect. In fact there would be everything in this person's representation of himself, or herself - everything, apart from the truth. The truth would be on one tree, the therapist with his client on another.

It would not be the client's intention to undermine the therapist's intervention. Quite the contrary. But that is the nature of intellectualizations and rationalizations when there is no alignment between thinking and feeling... when the cerebral striving for controls will totally insulate the individual from any contact with his, or her, true self, true core identity, and true emotional experiences with any, and all, real-life circumstances.

Consider this: an infant without access to rational and analytical thought knows only the personal emotional significance inherent in any experience. Its thinking is always an extension of its feelings, and its grasp of whatever it experiences is essentially defined by dictates originating from some organic, largely subconscious dimension within itself. This "organic dimension" we call the Core Identity.

As a rule, the same would be true of an adult that is made alert to his, or her, personal feelings about anything. The temper and constitution of this core identity is what permits any individual to recognize what he, or she, genuinely likes or dislikes, accepts or rejects, loves or hates, and everything else in this vein. It is the temper and constitution of this core identity which connects all people to their singular and essential selves. When a young person reaches maturity and enlists his will to give the design to his future life, it is this "organic" sensitivity he has of himself that enables him to create a life that is in good harmony with everything genuine about him.

But where we come upon intellectualizations and rationalizations we know that the individual bypasses his core identity (the chemistries in which are beyond his control), and is powerfully motivated to enlist a cerebral discipline (which promises sure controls) to determine what his response to anything should be. Instead of the true emotions having weight in determining a person's attitude and responses, it is the mind that will translate the implications of experiences and so give the design to these attitudes and (what then masquerades as)"emotional" responses.

This always seems to work well for a time, but for most people the problem here is that when they get to their mid thirties and beyond they are overtaken by the heavy feeling that they are, essentially, strangers to themselves, and strangers in the lives they have designed for themselves.

This brings us to another central dimension in President Obama's psychological makeup - a program in personality that is especially pronounced, and again, with a severity value of 10:10. We come to...

A Compulsive Personality Organization: text and illustrations from page 308

A Compulsive Personality Organization is a global program in personality. Here the striving for controls is particularly critical and will explain perhaps some of President Obama's idiosyncrasies. (His extreme reliance on teleprompters is one example that comes to mind). The individual lives the better part of his life by creating rigid, cerebrally defined "formulas" designed to cover virtually every conceivable life situation. This person would enlist such "formulas" when necessary and apply them in compulsive fahion upon himself and others. As a rule, such people describe themselves as perfectionists. In reality they are simply unable to deviate from any selected "formula".

A Compulsive Personality is always identified by the profound development of the knuckles. Plainly it would be this heavy development of the knuckles that created the waist formations at the base phalanges of the middle and ring fingers. Without exception, intellectualizations and rationalizations are always pronounced features of the Compulsive Personality Organization.

Other expressions of a Compulsive Personality Organization include a capacity for functioning best under conditions of pressure and stress. These people are excellent with details and in their element dealing with logistics. They can persevere with sustained investments of energy for however long it takes to complete whatever they set out to do. Most of these people - especially those close to being catagorized as suffering a Compulsive Personality Disorder - are workaholics. And they will plan their vacations the way a general plans a battle.

The Impotence of Will: text and illustration on page 99

Look again at the photo above of President Obama alongside the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. Look at their thumbs. Presidet Obama has his thumb bent, president Medvedev keeps his straight. A bent thumb is always an indication of impotence and helplessness which the individual would be experiencing at that moment. You can be sure that behind the flashing smiles and air of confidence President Obama knew his failures at their meeting were total.

We find the same thumb on the photo at the left. Make no mistake - a bent thumb exposes weakness and uncertainties... a sense of impotence and abject helplessness that invariably overwhelms the mind of its bearer.

Those three dark spots at the base of his fingers in fig. 3 and fig 4 would normally be calluses on the hands of workmen. I'm not sure that what we see here are calluses. I could be wrong. Such strong marking, albeit rare - very rare, in fact - are sometimes seen on individuals whose lives, for whatever reason, don't belong to them. These would be more common markings on the hands of a woman, who, for example, had suffered very critical and overbearing parents and then continued to deny her own self and core identity to save a marriage with a difficult husband. So the actual significance of these markings remain somewhat unclear to me. But they would have significance.

Paranoia: text and illustration on page 42; text from page 413

In Psychodiagnostic Chirology (PDC) we identify expressions in the psyche, and their settings in the palms of the hands, that give representation to Freud's Life, Sex and Death instincts. We have permitted ourselves considerable re-labeling here, so that while we may still speak of a "Death" instinct, for example, we find nothing here that relates to death proper. We find that the function of all the instincts, without exception, is to preserve and maintain life. Each instinct, therefore, is geared to provide the individual with an instinctual reponse to whatever is perceived as a threat to that individual's security. It is the function of the Death instinct to sensitize the individual to his inherent vulnerability and move him to separate himself from whatever is considered threatening.

In fg. 4 note the area of the palm encircled in red and the strong line leading from it that climbs to the base of the fingers. In PDC it is the function of the lines to trace the sources of information, how that information is processed, to where the information is being delivered, how is it understood and what would be the anticipated response.

The area of the palm encircled in red is the seat of the Death instinct. Normally this is a quiet area , but as seen in the palm of president Obama, the temper of this area, the sense of vulnerability, becomes extremely heightened when tapped by the line sinking into it, and delivered to the dimension of mind and conscious awareness.

This will lend a decidedly paranoid quality to the president's evaluation of just about everything that has a bearing on his life. He will examine everything that touches his life under a magnifying glass with the intention of exposing anything that may hurt him. It would be his feeling that there would always be something hidden in circumstances, words and intentions that would be intended to damage him.

This is definitely not a feature one would like to find on a person with the power available to the president. He will believe absolutely everything he hears, or imagines, about the intentions of others to harm him, Amost invariably, his instinctual reply would be to find some way to destroy them.

It would not be wrong to link the other side of this coin with an identification with absolute grandness and omnipotence. But given the way he holds his thumb we can have a fair picture of the inner tension he would suffer in this regard.

A Vacant Self: The Total Bankruptcy of Motivation: text and illustrations from page 340

The photo to the right shows Russia's Vladimir Putin with his hand raised. The reader is asked to compare the rich, thick, and powerful mounts rising just below his fingers with the same area of the palm in president Barack Obama's hands... this would be the area encircled in red. What we find is that there is not even the faintest trace of any defined elevation here. This entire area in President Obama's hand is perfectly flat.

This deficiency has the first order of importance. It describes a configuration of factors that have prevented a genuine alignment between the core identity with its complex of organic needs and drives, and the inherent mental organization of the person. In very simple terms what we find here is akin to a vehicle where the engine doing the pushing has no access to the wheel doing the steering. The direction the wheel is steering has no connection to the direction in which the engine is pushing.

Volumes can be written on the etiology and manifest expressions of this circumstance. But the bottom line in all instances - without exception - is that there will never be so much as a trace of genuine emotional identification with anything this man does. The quality of motivation would be entirely absent. There would be absolutely nothing that originates within this person - no organic need or drive - that would carry through to the mind and motivate him to effect that need or drive in his real life circumstances. We may speak of a vacancy of motivation, which, with President Obama, is total.

This, plainly, stands in sharp contrast to the president's persona and determined rhetoric. The programs he seems to identify with so deeply and deliver with such profound emotional investments, are, in truth, intellectualized concepts he has adopted and subsequently fixed to rigid cerebral formulas. Nothing in any of this has true heart. Vladimir Putin, by contrast, is a powerhouse in every respect. Every word this man says will be carved in stone... every act executed with the determination of a charging rhino. But this is another story.

This psychological analysis and personality profile was prepared in a way that (hopefully) would be as meaningful to the layman as to the student of PDC. The hands offered information on a number of other designs in personality that were not included here. It was my feeling that by trying to include everything the reader would be at a loss trying to understand which of the features had the first order of importance, and which may be significant as well but of secondary importance. So there is no mention of stresses in his early mother-experience that created a low ceiling of possibilities with everything related to "belonging"... no mention of the stresses in his early father-experiences which contributes to his need for recognition and a comfortable identification with fringe groups and radical philosophies... and there is no mention of what contributes to his masterful eloquence, his impeccable style and an actor's sense of timing. These are just a few of a number of other themes out there.

(Numerous requests were received to expand on the reference to Barack Obama's early father-experience, and how that might have promoted a need for recognition and an identification with fringe groups and radical philosophies. I'll do so now rather than leave this remark as innuendo. Click here to access that page. The article ends with specific reference to Barak Obama's narcissism as an inherent and entirely ingrained personality disorder.)

I decided to write these lines when I came upon a number of photographs where President Obama shares with the world pictures of his hands - pictures that for a student of PDC are quite revealing. It would have been impossible for anyone who owns a TV and reads a newspaper not to have been exposed to the massive attention the media has given him. But it was evident early on that there exists a considerable disparity between who he really is and the image of the president as had been so "manufactured" by the media.

Understandably, a reader unfamiliar with this biometric discipline in psychological diagnosis would be at a serious loss trying to understand what possible connection a specific feature of a hand may have with any given facet of personality. This may be unavoidable, and we have no way of getting past the cynic's armor. Today, however, we know how it works and why it works. It had been tested under laboratory condition and the results published.* Little of the mystery remains. Dermatoglyphics was long a respected diagnostic discipline in medical genetics (until the advent of ultrasound photography and easy access to amniotic fluids). PDC has its origins with this medical model. This goes back to the late 60's. Today PDC is a science in its own right, most in line with Winnicott's Object-Relations theory and Kohut's Self Psychology.


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