Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The imposter president, the imposter man


Initially I criticized Hillary Clinton for the fakeness of her manner, affects and words. Later on I was “formally” with her (and voted for her) as the preferable choice, though never drank any of the elixir of her goodness and humanity. For most of fifty years I had been closer to Libertarian ideals while knowing this was a masturbatory cushion of idealism that had only a tenuous thread in common with boots-on-the-ground America.

As a liberty sort, I might have voted for a decent capitalist, one who compromised righteous individualism with necessary charity (welfare, medical care, anti-discrimination laws). (Though . . . I may have given in to my complacent hypocrisy and run from any rightist who cast even a cautionary frown at that Social Security check I will need.)

But Trump, now president-elect, was not that candidate. It doesn’t take a liberal – but maybe it does take an experienced clinician – to see that his life as formed and lived has made the worst of narcissistic pathology, at least in the public realm. He never informed the platinum-gold ego with skills. He never thought – that is, introspected – about his difference from the adult world of ideas, deeper motivations – even toward being a good con. Dumbly, he simply assumed his simple mind and contents were right and admirable. Assumed, therefore, that money and prejudicial views – bigotry, misogyny – were the entrée to transcendent success.

Accidentally, he was right.

The future president is psychologically a failed, never-grown person. Alice Miller, great thinker who understood children’s needs better than most, once wrote of the therapist’s requirement to ‘know what it is like to have been killed in childhood’* in order to deeply see and help the client. Trump’s young self was aborted, drained, replaced. Love was replaced by money. He could not grow but on a base of pain and absence. Aggression, bullying, besting of others, contempt for his teacher, for the weak, low, black, brown, different. The search for glory** is the dialectic of the absence of self, like a schizophrenic who thinks he’s Christ, like the psychopathic ruler who can charm an entire nation.

We have a non-man who will occupy the White House. Some apparently sterling characters are pedophiles. Some Borderline Personality Disorders – already immature – are the mothers who kill their children.*** Some clients with success in the material world say they feel unreal, like imposters, like a child wearing adult’s clothing. And some, like the soon-to-be president, are carcasses surrounding an atavistic corpse.

Unless he declares war, is impeached, announces his resignation or becomes my client, I will not be able to look at his face or hear his voice over the next four years.

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* Probably an inexact memory of Miller’s statement, source forgotten.

** See Karen Horney, M.D., Neurosis and Human Growth, 1950, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Relevant passage, though without necessary context He does not feel weakened in a vacuum, but feels specifically less substantial, less well equipped for life than others. If he had a sense of belonging, his feeling inferior to others would not be so serious a handicap. But living in a competitive society, and feeling at bottom as he does isolated and hostile, he can only develop an urgent need to lift himself above others (p. 21, italics in original).

*** Christine Ann Lawson, Understanding the Borderline Mother, specifically the “Witch” persona and its “Medea” subtype, p. 127.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.