This work adopts a psychoanalytic approach in the interpretation of the decision making of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Dwight Eisenhower during the Vietnam War. It argues that personality traits, such as narcissism, influenced critical decisions they made about American intervention in Vietnam.The author focuses on the narcissistic personality, identifying it as intensely self-involved and preoccupied with success and recognition as a substitute for parental love. She asserts that narcissistic leaders are most likely to use force when they fear being humiliated for failing to act and when they need to restore their diminished sense of self-worth. Providing case studies of Johnson, Nixon, and Eisenhower, the text describes the childhood, maturation, and career of each president, documenting key personality attributes, and then discusses each one's Vietnam policy in light of these traits. The author contends that Johnson authorized the bombing of Vietnam in part because he feared the humiliation that would come from inaction, and that Nixon escalated us intervention in Cambodia in part because of his low sense of self-esteem.
Shame, humiliation, loss of self-esteem and aggression; Lyndon Johnson - the humiliated narcissist; Johnson and Vietnam; Richard Nixon - the angry narcissist; Nixon and Cambodia; Dwight Eisenhower - the healthy narcissist; Eisenhower and Dien Bien Phu.