Dr. Jerrold M. Post, a C.I.A. analyst and the founder of the agency’s Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior, has died at 83. He is credited for his sharp psychological analysis of world leaders, both foreign and domestic, over the years.
Carolyn Post, his wife, said the cause of death was Covid-19. Dr. Post tested positive on Nov. 15 and died in hospice care a week later.
Cynthia Post, his daughter, said she believed he was infected while riding in a medical taxi. In recent years, Dr. Post lived with renal failure and had to make weekly trips to a dialysis center. After a stroke in July, he was unable to drive himself to his dialysis appointments.
During his more than 20 years with the C.I.A., Dr. Post profiled leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. Later in his academic career, he analyzed figures such as former President Bill Clinton and President Trump.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter credited Dr. Post for a successful summit with Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt. Dr. Post provided Mr. Carter with in-depth “psychobiographies” along with insight on the leaders’ personalities.
Dr. Post approached studying world leaders with an understanding that they needed to be analyzed within their cultural and historical contexts, an idea that was relatively unheard-of in the 1960s and ’70s.
He sometimes faced opposition within the C.I.A., as some thought psychology offered limited insight, especially because Dr. Post was unable to directly interview most of his subjects in person.
Dr. Post, however, said he saw it as an obligation to offer insight on political leaders.
“We have satellite photography that can zero in on the dimples on a golf ball,” he told The New Yorker, “but we can’t peer into the minds of our adversaries.”
Born on Feb. 8, 1934, in New Haven, Conn., to Jacob and Lillian (Chaikind) Post, Dr. Post graduated from Yale University in 1956 and later attended the Yale School of Medicine.
Dr. Post is survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Cynthia Post, a psychologist, and Meredith Gramlich, a disability specialist; his sister, Judith Tischler; and a stepdaughter, Kirsten Davidson.