Home Science & TechScience Jerrold M. Post, Specialist in Political Psychology, Dies at 83

Jerrold M. Post, Specialist in Political Psychology, Dies at 83

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“His argument was that just because someone is an enemy and very different from us, that doesn’t mean they are clinically insane or a madman,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked with Dr. Post at the C.I.A.

Dr. Post left the agency in 1986 to establish a program in political psychology at the George Washington University, where he taught until 2015. He maintained a private psychiatric practice out of his home in Bethesda, Md., and continued to do work for the government.

Largely unknown outside intelligence circles until the early 1990s, he saw his profile grow after his assessment of Hussein, the Iraqi leader, commissioned after he invaded Kuwait in 1990, was reported in the news media. Over the next decade he appeared on television hundreds of times, discussing confounding characters foreign and domestic, including President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and the Unabomber.

It was an experience Dr. Post seemed to relish, seeing a bit of himself in his subjects, said Eric Shaw, a clinical psychologist who was a friend of his. “He said, ‘It’s no coincidence that I study narcissistic leaders, because it takes one to know one,’” Dr. Shaw said.

Jerrold Morton Post was born on Feb. 8, 1934, in New Haven, Conn. His father, Jacob, sold movie reels to local theaters; his mother, Lillian (Chaikind) Post, kept the books for a shoe store.

Dr. Post put himself through Yale, graduating in 1956, and the Yale School of Medicine, graduating four years later. He completed his residency at Harvard Medical School and a two-year fellowship at St. Elizabeth’s, a psychiatric hospital in Washington.

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