Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President-Elect Trump

I know, I know I said it.
I said that both Mr. Trump and Mrs, Clinton needed therapy (last post). People are taking down their FaceBook accounts because of things they have said publicly, and this should worry me. 

But that was yesterday. And the theme of this blog, remember, is that everyone needs therapy. So it isn't an insult, okay?
President-Elect Donald Trump acceptance speech

Today, the day after the election, I'm thinking more of the President-Elect. No matter the personality we saw during the contest, he knows this country better, more intimately, than any of us. We underestimated him.  

And this intimacy, this knowledge, is the reason he won the election without contest.  It is why he said he would give us hell if Mrs. Clinton had been elected, that he wouldn't accept the election results. He knew. He had his finger on the pulse of America all along, when nobody else did. 

America, to most of us, has been the America that is outspoken, everyone shouting at everyone else on some media or another. Yet in the big bell curve, in reality, not everyone wants to be the center of attention, and Mr. Trump spoke to that majority. President Nixon called his electorate the Silent Majority. The shape has changed, as has the demographic. But people wanted change, and they had no place to channel that desire until Donald Trump walked into their lives.

And that’s a type of social intelligence, is it not? Understanding the people in the country, the forgotten ones, those who have for years felt disenfranchised, unimportant. It could be interpreted, rightly, as intellectual, even emotional empathy. We’ll soon see if such empathy is universal, if it spans across the universe, if it is inclusive

People are really worried, or so we hear on the news, the radio interviews. Many woke up this morning, and hearing the outcome of the election suffered features of panic attacks— literal panic attacks-- shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness. 

Jews just make jokes about being sure their passports are current. It is how we think.

The results seemed remarkable, unbelievable. For the polls had us ready to crown Mrs. Clinton, and whether we liked her or not, we had prepared for that, her resumption of Clinton rule. .

It was the surprise, the upset, that set off an arousal response, the panic, as much as the fear of what a Trump presidency might look like. Those who have learned the art of meditation, or emotional management might easily reverse the negative symptoms. A tried and true intervention is to remember not to dwell on the past, and equally as important, let go of the future. Only the present, what we are doing in a given moment, is within our control. Not that we can't work towards the future, put plans into place. But under the influence of anxiety, the here and now serves us better. Stay there. Do what feels good, right. Live one day at a time. Maybe pray. It is hard, but wrangling thoughts is a major component of serenity. 

Or just watch the President-Elect's acceptance speech. His voice, his posture, his very persona are reassuring, convincing, healing. There is none of the narcissism he’s been labeled with, none of that NPD, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder* that scares so many. Our new president looked and spoke Presidential. 
“It is time for us to come together as one people.” 
He doesn't say, "It's time to get to the work of deporting people." He talks of uniting, which is what new presidents all say after an election, but some of us expected another Donald, the one that is unbridled, who can't resist a snarky remark. But no, not a single I told you so, nothing negative about anyone, certainly not Mrs. Clinton. Only magnanimity.

If you read my last post, the one about social justice, you might remember that human rights activists and social workers do what they can to make things happen, to change deplorable conditions. Dr. Luis Zayas told an auditorium full of academics at the Council for Social Work Education annual program meeting that cynics and conservatives believe there will always be injustice, that it is inevitable. Get used to things being hard. But the social work response is just the opposite: Injustice is intolerable. 

So here's the big challenge, and a message to President-Elect Donald Trump

We’re all in agreement for the first time ever. Mr. President-Elect. It is time for us to come together as one people, a task that seems impossible. But the divisiveness, the hatred especially, should be intolerable, especially to you.

Accomplish that, make the seemingly impossible, possible.  Because you have the power to do this. Create an inclusive culture, one that bring us all together, and don't dial back the progress of your predecessors. Do it, make this country great again, as only a strong leader can. We are counting on you. Many fear you, disperse the fears. We could use a mentally healthy, loving United States of America.

And we know you hear the country's voices, that plurality, crescendo above us, above you. Make good, Mr. President-Elect Donald Trump. Go for it, the one people idea. Even if it wasn't exactly a campaign promise.


P.S. For those readers who feel this is a totally, ridiculously naive essay, I say. . . maybe.
For a much more rational opinion, one based upon everything we've seen in the past year's campaign, not based upon hope and a belief in the potential of man (when reaching potential, true potential is within his reach) read David Remnick's essay An American Tragedy, in The New Yorker. 

*Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by (five or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes


Lee said...

Excellent! Always enjoy your posts and this one definitely rang true!

Lorri M. said...

I enjoyed this post! Thanks for my first read of the morning, in SoCA!

clairesmum said...

have to keep thinking on this...he does have seem to have narcissistic behaviors but we all do, sometimes. some narcissists are very socially intelligent, it's what helps them be very successful instead of being socially awkward and unable to get along with others. personality is complex, we all know that.
He has shown (adaptation to military academy, success as a real estate developer, and as a reality TV personality) that he is very capable of learning the rules in new settings and playing by them....but his desire to be the biggest, best, loudest, most powerful....that may emerge down the road......

this job is way way harder than he knows, and i suspect he does not realize he has caught a tiger by the tail, as the old saying goes.

Rhonda said...

My mother told my brother and I years ago: be careful who you associate with. If you condone bad behavior, you may be cast in the same light, even if you didn't do anything wrong. The whole guilt by association thing.

I don't know how to feel about my good friends who voted for this man. These are good people...really good people. I know that both nominees were deeply flawed. I have tried to remain objective, and have spent a good deal of time doing research on both candidates, especially Mrs. Clinton, because I didn't know many details about all her supposed scandals. After all that, I could see why people might be suspicious of her, but what I found on Mr. Trump seemed much worse, and on a greater scale. I know many who support him didn't vote so much for HIM;it was more of a protest against her and the establishment. They wanted a change, but at what cost, is my question? Anything goes, and is allowed? They condone that?

I feel like I have been gaslighted, not only by him, but many of his supporters. No one listens to the facts, it's all crazy conspiracy theories, and hyperbole. If you present facts,it's I DON'T CARE and I DON'T BELIEVE IT. My brain feels like mush.

Bottom line, is I'm scared. I don't think he can pull off what he has promised, and when he doesn't, then what? I had hoped he would get some good advisors, but so far, all I see is sycophantic, long time politicians, who have often failed in their personal and professional lives, riding his coat tails to Washington. Draining the swamp? He's building a retaining wall.

He's pro USA, but buys his steel and aluminum from China. He's the great business man, but has had 6 bankruptcies. He employs lots of people, but doesn't pay them. He respects women, but calls them derogatory names. He talks about healing the wounds, but he created them. He was magnanimous and charming in his speech, but it feels like manipulation to me. If he wanted me to believe all the things he says he is, he should have lived it in his personal life, out of the spotlight. He should have won by winning respect, no by using fear and inflammatory rhetoric. People should not be scared of him. That's not winning or showing leadership. My heart hurts.

Mound Builder said...

To me, the apparently current form of Trump, where he wants us all to be unified after having dragged us all through the muck for months and months, it feels something like the pattern of an abuse cycle. Attacks, attacks, attacks, and more attacks...hostile language...hostile body posture...whipping up his base so that people are wiling to throw punches at others who are peacefully protesting, mocking someone with a disability... well, I assume you have been watching the news throughout the period he's been running. No one has been off limits. Not his fellow Republicans he was running against, certainly not Democrats. And now, it's like he wants to make up to all of us for having slapped us repeatedly, run us down, insulted us, undermined us. And we are apparently supposed to throw our arms open wide and take him back. It's a sick cycle. And there is so much at stake. I don't want to spend the next four years being subjected to his abuse, got too many friends and family in too many of the categories he seems to have no regard for. Not to mention that I am a woman.

I'm a little confused, Therapydoc, by what sounds like your softening on Trump, recognizing that he's been pretty unpleasant but hey, maybe he'll turn over a new leaf now, now that he wants everyone to love him. I'm confused, because over the years I've followed your blog you've pretty consistently spoken against the ways men, in particular, take advantage of and assault others... women and men.

therapydoc said...

I deleted what I wrote to Rhonda because of the typos. I've never mastered typing on the phone, so here it is again, corrected, in response to MoundBuilder, too.

I know. And neither of you even mentioned attention span.

A cousin of mine who works for one of the Holocaust Museums told me that Americans will tolerate sexual indiscretions aplenty, but when it comes to corruption, the People draw the line. Mr. Trump went through a phase of calling Mrs. Clinton crooked whenever he could. He didn't let up to the degree that she developed corrupt as a brand. It started and ended with the email fiasco. Nobody liked that she compromised American security, and she never seemed contrite, which made her seem sneaky. And in the end we had Bill on the tarmac and nothing but a slap on the wrist. How much money exchanged hands? People wonder.

My hope is that a person who wants to be admired, like our President-Elect, who needs to be admired, who has finally reached the pinnacle of power in one of the most prestigious organizations in the world, will want to keep that position and will want the entire world, the whole nation, to love him. Being in this position of power might be a trigger for personality change.

All those people he insulted? As Gilda Radner might have said, Never Mind.

They aren't important to him anymore, not at the top of his list. Women, gays, those who are differently-abled, people of color (but maybe not Muslim), not a threat now, it is all water under the bridge, because he's number one, and wants to keep that spot, nobody can take it from him.
Now that he's the President-Elect, but has never served in government, I see him as a likely figurehead, a man who got what he wanted, the Presidency, and can let go, let other people make decisions for him, people who are better informed. It may sound soft, not slapping him for being who he is, but I'm honestly hopeful he'll grow out of that, that his advisors will help him to become more universally likable. He did lose the populist vote.

Lest you think me totally naive, it is how I work as a therapist. I'll say to a guy who has road rage, who can't tolerate terrible drivers, Is that working for you? And we'll talk it out, the pros and cons of expressing rage behind the wheel.

The metaphor is apt, Mr. Trump is behind the wheel, and hopefully (there's that word again) he'll have advisors who will either drive for him (write the magnanimous speeches), or will discuss how he drives, and whether or not that will get him elected in 2020.

Mr. Trump, I suspect, and implied in the post, is smarter than he presented himself to us during the race for President. It is just possible that all that aggressive, horrible talk vis-a-vis human beings, his seeming disregard for human rights, will evaporate. He will want to be Presidential, not a boor. There will be no looking back, no apologies, but maybe, just maybe, we will get lucky with the Never Mind.

therapydoc said...

Thanks Lee, Lorri M, and ClairesMum, too, as always.

Mound Builder said...

Someone I have known for a long time, though am not close to, expressed surprise that I, or others, would be troubled by Trump. He's only said some things that well, yes, she said, some of them were bad, unkind, unpleasant, but that's all he's done. Nothing worse. And give him a chance. She is thoroughly disgusted with the folks who are protesting, some of whom have become violent. She seems unwilling or unable to see that using aggressive, angry words, using hostile language, can have an effect on others. Abuse often begins, or maybe always begins, with angry hostile words. I don't find it that surprising that, having used that kind of tactic (if that's what it was) is likely to generate other hostile and aggressive behavior. It did so at Trump's rallies where he was happy to whip those folks up, get them rowdy, get them agitated. So having set that standard, people are just supposed to hop on board the Trump train now and settle down? I think he bears responsibility for setting that kind of angry expression in motion. If, as it sounds like you are suggesting, it was just an act, and now he can settle down since he's gotten what he wants...then I'm equally appalled. But then, that's the kind of thing that happens in work settings with bosses and co-workers, too. It seems to be a very culturally acceptable form of conducting business, of climbing the corporate ladder. It seems to be deeply a part of white working culture, since that's the culture that is in power.

I get that as a therapist, if this person were coming to you for treatment you'd ask "how's that working for you?". But this isn't road rage. This is an entire country, an economy, so many peoples' lives.

And I'm supposed to be happy that this guy is the president? Overlook his bad behavior, his lying and manipulation? As long as he's being likened to someone with road rage I will suggest thinking of him in a different way. If I were dating a person like this and he'd behaved this way repeatedly, and then he expected me to marry him...I couldn't do it. I'd leave. I'd get out. Let him grow up somewhere else, if that's what he needs to do. But not going to let him grow up and take that stuff out on me.

And, perhaps I have a dismal view of people. or possibly I'm being realistic, but by the time people are 70 years old, they don't often make major personality changes.

therapydoc said...

Yeah, I 'm terrified. Just heard he's starting with the LGBT community. Never mind

Rhonda said...

Mound Builder, we could be best friends.

I was thinking about what you said, Therapy Doc, about Mr. Trump having social intelligence, and possible empathy of some sort. I look at social intelligence and empathy as super powers. They can be used for good or evil, like many things. I heard someone say the other day that the problem they had with Mr. Trump was that he could have gone a different path. Instead of going "small", and using inflammatory speech, calling people names, etc, and generally fanning the flames,he could have gone "big", presented his views, and still gotten his message across. But of course, it probably wouldn't have worked as well for him. Yes, he saw what people wanted, but used his power for evil. And the truth is, he's probably not evil. Probably just a scared little boy, afraid that if he fails, he'll lose his father's love. Living up the his father's words that if you don't win, you're a loser. Win at any cost. I heard an interview with the reporter who wrote the book,"The Truth about Trump". In the interview, he played some of the audio recordings of Mr. Trump talking. The reporter said he kept trying to get Mr. Trump to open up about himself, and you can hear Mr. Trump on the audio say "I don't like to look at myself. I'm afraid I won't like what I see".

And talking about going "big", I was angry at HRC for not doing so. I would have told her to tell him to "talk to the hand" every time he said something about her. I know it's hard not to attack back, but it devolved into this name calling debacle that nobody liked. People say she is hard to connect with, and too secretive. Someone pointed out to me that maybe she is secretive because she doesn't trust US. Think about it. Her dad was emotional abusive to her mother, and he never appreciated Hillary's abilities. She didn't fit the mold of a governor's wife, and was forced to change. She didn't fit the mold of First Lady, and was forced to change. She's been scrutinized at every turn, and if she slipped up even once, for any small thing, someone would say something about it. When she got pneumonia, somehow, that was a secret too. No wonder she didn't feel like she could tell anyone she was sick...her opponent was talking about who physically weak she was. And why the heck did she stay with Bill? Not to look like a failure as a woman? She thought she couldn't have political career on her own? Only she knows. And the stupid emails. So easy to avoid that controversy, just don't do it. However, no one has said a word about the fact that GWB did the same exact thing. He was even subpoenaed for it, and totally ignored it. No one did anything, but yet for HRC, it was a horrible crime. Double standards and hypocrisy abound.

Both of them need therapy. I feel like the whole country needs therapy. To expect people not to voice their discontent, and join together in a group hug, is crazy. Like Mound Builder, I feel like it was a abusive relationship that won't heal easily. Mr. Trump, if he is really going to lead, needs to step up an show some remorse. I doubt it will happen. Inclusive doesn't seen to be a word in his limited vocabulary.