With the Convervative Party’s landslide Parliamentary victory capturing headlines last week, our eyes swiftly turn back to the American impeachment drama. Whatever else Donald Trump may be, he’s a gift to writers everywhere, especially psychology writers.
You can’t peruse any news site without stumbling over the name ‘Trump’ connected with any and every allegation, accusations and armchair diagnosis. Just take our DailyMail for instance. If one were to form a mental picture of Trump merely from their headlines, his face would be puce, arm raised in a Nazi salute while he meanders, gibbers and drools with psychotic, demented rage.
The psychological buzzword usually leveled at Trump is ‘narcissism’ so Rhys and I watched two recent rallies on YouTube to see for ourselves what all the buzz was about.
Did he blow his own horn? Absolutely. Did he tout his presidential accomplishments and even say ‘I’m the only one who could’ve done it’. He did. He did indeed. He is, after all, from Queens, which I once heard a native of Queens, New York say is the key to understanding Trump’s braggadocio.
I may be viewing this long-distance from across the pond, but even in Merrie Olde England (Wales, actually), bragging is what all candidates do when seeking re-election. Humble pie isn’t exactly a savvy campaign strategy.
But then again, Trump is the only one who did ‘it’. Republicans and Democrats have held sway in Washington D. C. for decades and none of them accomplished what Trump has accomplished in less than three years.
Is it still narcissism if it’s true?
But that’s not what this blog post is about.
It is the Congressional impeachment hearing which highlighted two words usually found only in psychology writing. Suddenly, one hears the words ‘projection’ and ‘gaslighting’ bandied about by the media. If nothing else comes of the impeachment drama in the American Congress, at least ‘projection’ and ‘gaslighting’ have become part of our international consciousness.
Which is why I reiterate that Trump is a gift. A gift to psychology writers everywhere. Lots of grist for the mill there.
Gaslighting of course is so called after the 1944 MGM movie starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and introducing our very own Angela Lansbury, now ninety-four years young. In the movie, Charles Boyer makes small alterations in the home he shares with his heiress wife, Ingrid Bergman. When she notices a missing picture on the landing or the dip of the flame in the gaslights in the evening, Charles contradicts her, convincing her that her senses cannot be trusted and she is mentally ill.
After many months of this, Boyer is on the cusp of packing a broken, submissive Bergman off to Bedlam when a kindly Scotland Yard Inspector comes to her aid, assuring her that he too sees the dip of the gaslights and she’s not only not insane, but very very sane indeed.
The Trump of his sold-out and overflowing rallies bears no resemblance to the gibbering, anti-Semitic, senile, goosestepping Trump presented by the headlines. Propaganda may’ve worked when William Randolph Hearst ‘furnish[ed] the war’ but, thanks to social media and the rise of the citizen press, Americans are savvy to being gaslighted.
They also know projection when they see it. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that 10% of the accusations of criminal misconduct leveled against Trump’s political opponents of 2016 and 2020 are true. That only 3,000 emails were stored on a private server and only pocket change trickled down from Burisma. Were I in their shoes, I would quietly recede from public life, hire a crackerjack lawyer, transfer my fortune to a Swiss bank and retire to some non-extradition country to live out my remaining days on a warm beach sipping cocktails.
But no! As one, these career politicians turn and loudly project what they are accused of doing onto first-time politician Trump and his family. It’s a gift. The term and concept of projection has gone from psychological jargon to mainstream terminology. People who suffered from projection in their private lives now have a term to identify it by. They can rise up and say, ‘No, I didn’t do that…but my brother, father, mother, sister, husband, wife…they did do what they’re projecting onto me. They’re guilty; I’m innocent’.
Despite all the accusations and now the impeachment, rumour has it that Trump’s re-election rallies are even bigger than his 2016 rallies.
In my trunk call opinion, all of the accusations leveled against Trump are actually a smokescreen concealing the real reason for all the vitriol.
He is hated because he was once in the ‘in’ crowd. He knew everyone, he knew what went down and he knows where all the ‘bodies are buried’. Then he went rogue. If you want to know the name of the whistleblower, it is Donald John Trump. He is dangerous. Hence the gaslighting. Hence the projection.
By voting to impeach, the polls show that the United States Congress has filled the hearts of the American voters with a great and terrible resolve. A resolve to re-elect the victim of an impeachment many feel is a hollow charade and make him a triumphant martyr with a second term.
Win or loose, Trump remains a gift to psychology writers everywhere and a gift to all those who have suffered gaslighting and projection in their personal and professional lives.