THE MIND OF WATERGATE: A Study of the Compromise of Integrity by

THE MIND OF WATERGATE: A Study of the Compromise of Integrity

Email this review


Like a dreaded visit from a relative, the book about Watergate as a manifestation of the Oedipus complex has arrived. Rangell, a Los Angeles psychoanalyst, kept a record of the Watergate events as they happened, subjecting them to the kind of behavioral analysis he practices on his patients. Now he's subjecting us to the analysis, which goes something like this: Nixon succeeded, before the scandal broke, in becoming the representative of the group superego--whereby notions of right and wrong are transferred to an authority figure, relieving the individual of responsibility. But deep psychological factors compelled him to take risks, in this case burglarizing the Democratic National Committee office as well as that of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, which jeopardized this supreme position. From there on out, Rangell analyzes the actions of Nixon's henchmen--who were, of course, protecting the father-figure--and of the public, which had to suffer through the reappropriation of the superego traits previously projected onto Nixon. But, says Rangell, the big difference between the Oedipus complex and what he calls the ""Watergate complex"" is that with the Oedipus complex the subject suffers guilt over ""killing"" the father, while in the Watergate version, guilt is avoided--Nixon is symbolically and actually pardoned. But, as every reader of Psychology Today knows, you can't get away without confronting that guilt; so beware. The move from individual to group psychoanalysis is a debatable procedure, but Rangell just leaps in without questioning his method. More secular readers will prefer their Watergate without the couch.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1980
Publisher: Norton