Healthy Living

Eugenics, Mental Health And The Trump View Of The World

There are a multitude of reasons I don’t like Donald Trump and fear what a Trump presidency would look like. His mysogyny, racism, Islamaphobia and xenophobia make a frightful mix with extreme narcissism. As a therapist who treats the trauma others have suffered from being bullied in our culture I cringe when I see him make bullying an acceptable replacement for discourse. That is the short list.

Recently I have added another reason to that list. His support of Eugenics as a real thing is most recently evidenced by his ill informed and ignorant opinion that people with PTSD and mental illness are generally mentally weaker than others.

“When you talk about the mental health problems,” he said, “when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in the room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.” — Said in response to a question about how he, as president, would insure vets got the care they need for PTSD.

This was the comment he made on Oct 3rd, while meeting with a group of veterans. But let’s take the veteran issue out of this and simply look at his view of PTSD. In case Mr. Trump would like to actually educate himself on the issue here is a fact sheet on PTSD that I would recommend he review. In fact, PTSD is a response of the brain to stress that all of us experience to some extent. If Donald knew anything about mental health he would know that resistance to mental health issues and the ability to deal with stress is far more about upbringing and stable relational bonds than about genetics.

Study after study shows that the ability to handle stress and anxiety is directly related to the nurturance and support we receive early on. The number of stressors we are exposed to at an early age. Whether there is a history of abuse or neglect and a myriad of other factors. Far down that list would be actual genetics. For further reading Mr. Trump might want to see the article from the American Psychological Association on resilience here.

The belief that some people have superior genes which make them resistant to mental illness is simply not born out in research and began with Dale Carnegie and the Eugenics movement here in the United States. In fact, Carnegie, Rockefeller and some other very privileged, rich white families were behind the movement which purported that people should be bred like racehorses to improve the quality of the species genetically. At it’s height in the United States it was the driving force in making it illegal for people with mental, physical and developmental disabilities to marry and reproduce. It was, in fact, one of the major movements behind the rise of fascism in 1920’s Germany that led to the Hitler regime.

But Donald Trump has long subscribed to the idea of Eugenics as a reality. The Washington Post wrote a detailed article about his reddit followers and the idea of Eugenics that is so prevalent there, leading to their belief that Muslim peoples are animals. But those are followers and not everyone can be accountable for their fan club correct? True. Except there is a long history of Donald supporting the idea of Eugenics as well. He has made statements about his intellect being superior because of his “good German blood” on multiple occasions, many of them caught in this video put together by the Huffington Post.

Donald’s adherence to these views troubles me as a therapist who deals with people who did not have his advantages growing up. They did not have white skin, they did not come from wealth, they were not capable of crushing critics under a mountain of legal debt every time they felt disparaged. Yet they continued. They had the courage to get the help they needed after their less than privileged backgrounds left them broken. They showed far more courage and resilience, in fact, than I see Mr. Trump showing in circumstances where he is criticized and finds himself with a wound to his narcissistic facade.

We are all of us broken in and by this world. It is the broken places that allow us growth.

Like Kintsugi pottery those broken places make us more beautiful when we grow and heal out of them. It is through relationship that our healing happens best. If we are unwilling to see those broken places or contend with the hurt they cause, we cannot hope to mend them. The mending of trauma and PTSD takes real courage, not good genetics.

The fact that Donald Trump refuses to admit any brokenness out of his narcissism does not make me think he is superior in genetics. It tells me only that he has lacked the courage to heal and has forever remained simply a broken pot. The broken places remain unhealed because he has lacked the courage to face them. The sores begin to fester and the ugliness seeps out through the sores in attempts to belittle, degrade and shame others in order to distract from what is wrong within.

I cannot imagine this kind of reactive weakness attaining the most powerful seat in the world. I cannot imagine the darkness that would ensue.