By Bryant Welch
As a clinical psychologist, I have spent much of the last few decades studying the American mind in political contexts. As dire as things have seemed, Donald Trump may now be giving us exactly what we need to rehabilitate the American mind and revitalize American democracy. Who knew? In a fascinating turn of events, the American mind may now be resurrecting itself with Donald Trump as the unintended catalyst of change.
America has, for several years, been in a dangerously regressed psychological state caused by disruptive change, and manipulative political mind games called “gaslighting.” The election of Donald Trump was living proof of this deterioration. Whether we voted for Donald Trump or just failed to defeat him, our minds have all been severely compromised. Now, however, Trump is inadvertently providing a compelling therapy for our most glaring mental instability: our national paranoia, our disordered sexuality, and our runaway greed. Fixing these things would truly make us great again.
Paranoia, a pervasive fear that some invasive force is about to get us, seriously compromises our awareness and our focus. Focused awareness, what some call “being present” or “awakened” is a critical element of mental health, and, as a nation, we appear to have lost that. But Donald Trump has now offered himself to become the luminous, highly charged object our awareness needed to rehabilitate itself from this paranoia-induced regression. He has forced millions of Americans to focus on him, not in the way he might want them to, but in a determined, steadying way that has been restorative to our capacity to focus, as evidenced by what so many hardworking Alabamians achieved in the months leading up to their recent election. Trump has inspired us to focus, and focus helps restore psychological stability.
Second, Trump has held up to us a horrible ugliness in our national sexuality in a manner so vulgar that it can no longer be denied; a terrible inability to lovingly appreciate and respect the differences between the masculine and the feminine. By boasting of grabbing a woman by “the pussy,” reminding us at every chance he can that women “bleed” and by endorsing one of the crassest characters ever to run for office in America, Trump has both epitomized and put our national misogyny on such display that we can no longer pretend it is not there. The bottom line is that to weather life’s difficulties men and women need each other and to tenderly love each other. The unchecked crass national vulgarity of Trump and Roy Moore interferes with that love. There is a psychological saying, “If you can name it, you can tame it.” It was Donald Trump who has forced us to name our misogyny and in doing so we are now more able to tame it. It was only poetic justice that Southern Black women who know more than any others the reality of sexual abuse took the bully down in Alabama.
But our new national bounty of hope, Donald Trump, has also begun to chip away at the third psychological rail in the American mind, our runaway greed. As the nation’s wealthy elite lick their chops at the thought of the ultimate tax bill for pigs, last week Sanjay Gupta expressed it metaphorically when he described the President’s personal gastronomy in Andy Warhol like vividness - a dozen diet Cokes a day, multiple Big Macs and fried chicken all washed down with thick, thick shakes. As Sanjay read the menu to us, it was as if we were right in the room with our obese, gluttonous, gilded President waiting to experience the inevitable Presidential belch as he salivated over his long anticipated “victory” of the tax cut for our nation’s most elite piglets.
We are a nation grown portly and fat with unstoppable greed whether it is for food or money. And we have succeeded in making staggering numbers of our children obese in our own fat image. But as we ponder the full display of President Porky, doesn’t it make our Holiday resolutions to lose a few pounds and live within our means just a little easier, not to mention our now emerging insistence that our corpulent corporate conglomerate of fast food tax subsidy addicts be muzzled for the benefit of their own financial cholesterol levels?
Sometimes to inoculate ourselves against a potentially dire illness, we have to ingest some of the disease pathogen itself. Confronted with the presence of the pathogen the body rallies its natural defenses to the disease in a way it would not have without being exposed to the pathogen. We develop stronger antibodies to the disease. Hopefully, Donald Trump will prove to be the vaccine rather than the illness itself.
Maybe America just needed a crassly obese, impulse ridden, sexually vulgar anti-hero and central casting sent us Donald Trump. Thank you, Mr. President. I think you just might be making America great again, just like you promised.
Season’s Greetings to all!
Bryant Welch is a clinical psychologist and attorney residing in San Francisco, CA. He is the author of State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind (St. Martin’s Press, 2008). www.bryantwelch.com.