Search This Blog

Monday, 15 October 2018

Toward a Psychoanalytic Explanation of Social Events
This subject is difficult to put in a convincing way without referring to actual events from historical living happenings that could be noticed directly. Therefore, taking an ongoing social event as a point of refence is advantageous because we could avoid using the conclusions of previously happened events to support the ongoing argument at hand. Hopefully it will reveal the logic of the explanations that I will offer.
1.   The Kavanaugh Affair: Social Change.
In the last few days the USA chamber of the senators (upper chamber of the legislative institution) approved the election of a justice to the supreme court. The process was mired in clear and arguable legal, procedural, and ethical transgressions. The justice name is B. Kavanaugh. I am using this very recent case to discuss three issue: How certain social events embody (unconsciously contain) the aspired and needed changes in a society. The second is the psychological underpinnings of the manifestations of the changing taking shape, The third the mutual and corresponding changes in the society and the members of the society.
Confirming Kavanaugh’s membership to the Supreme Court of the USA is not a simple, purely, American matter that should not be of concern to none Americans. As we will see a little later, the way the selection and confirmation of that man portended some major social and political changes in the US that will have international echoes. The reason for stating this idea is the obvious way the republicans (a legislative power) managed to obstruct the democrats’ efforts to block the justice’s selection. They used their majority to break several rules in sharing the authority of the legislative by manipulating the voting process, and not refraining publicly from politicizing an act that belongs to the supposedly important pillar of democracy: the independence and separation of the three powers in a nation. This was not done subtly but openly by stating that their choice of that judiciary is based on his political leanings that are supportive of the declared political stand of the political party in power. The political branch of power in the USA confessed openly its interference in the judiciary power, not only by influencing the process of voting but also by the choice of a judge who supports some of the most partisan moral and political views.  
The Kavanaugh Affair, shows in an unmitigated way that the judges of the supreme court in the USA, which is the final protector of the constitution, are chosen and will be chosen in the future based on their political leanings. Nowhere in the world (even in the lingering dictatorships) does a dictator or a revolutionary leader justifies or legitimizes his or her dictatorship through the judiciary’s source of power (the third power). They openly use the administrative powers (army or Police) or the legislative power (false and fraudulent elections) to claim legitimacy. The reason is that even dictators would like to keep the judiciary power free of blemishes for future use (suspend the constitution but not tarnish it).  The Kavanaugh Affair is the only and the most audacious disregard of conventionalities in the USA, in the last fifty years (or in modern history to my knowledge). Because there are no mistakes in history there must have been precursors to that affair, and it should be looked for and pinpointed. The importance of that is in the absence of concern among American citizens about the inappetence of their claim to pride. The long-lasting claim of the USA of being a nation of the rule of law, and the nation most concern about that internationally is clearly discarded in Kavanaugh Affair.
I would like to make two stipulations for the next idea in this posting.
The Kavanaugh affaire is basically a matter of the principle of separation of powers and the relationship between the judiciary and the legislative powers, and also the place of the executive power in that relationship. It is an affair that relates to the principle of separation of powers and nothing else. The separation of power is the essence and the core of the RULE Of LAW.
The second stipulation is that moral issues are the apex of the social structure of a society. Morality is not absolute or relative to anything outside the social structure of the society. They merely reflect the state of the social structure in some societies, at certain times and change accordingly. Sexual morality varies from society to another, and changes with time in the same society. Therefore, morality is not the main or the only mover of social change.
However, within HOURS of selecting Kavanaugh to the supreme court the issue changed from a serious legal and political matter to become a moral issue. Young females went out demonstrating and objecting, based on a bad individual moral act committed by judge Kavanaugh when he was 18. They forgot the serious and blatantly dangerous precedence of the legislative majority biasing and blemishing the neutrality of the supreme court. The opposition to that dangerous precedence of overpassing the separation of powers was degraded to a moral one. GOD, and what a trivial one. An 18 years old male adolescent (Kavanaugh) tried to violate the privacy and moral standards of a 15 years old adolescent girl and failed. This happening happens tens of million times every day, everywhere in the world, as part of the initiation rituals of boys and girls to social maturity. It is an ugly face of immaturity but from it the good relationship between men and women comes out. However, Kavanaugh’s behaviour then- as it is now- is something ugly but is not indicative of an unusually deviant personality. His views on the powers of the president, the rights allowed to the office of the administrative branch to obstruct justice, the extent of the president’s authority to forgive himself, and the right to act as an absolute king (ordained by the senates) are the dangers that young girls should have joined young men and marched against. Mature men and women should have also joined to object to Cavanaugh’s judicial mentality not his sexual views.
The precedence of this Historical flop:
If political issues in the USA are degraded, replaced, and lose their importance to moral issues, then the society is unconsciously declaring its political system dysfunctional in two meanings of the word. The first is that the political system is not independent of the social eventualities; it is not a system for ruling the country but it is ruled by whatever social values predominate at the time. This fact is clear in the response to the Kavanaugh case. The insistence, and the objection to his selection were dictated by none judiciary principles. The second meaning is even more alarming. The issue of human rights is the USA is shockingly na├»ve. In the last two decades the country has been in perpetual street uprising (some violent) for various demands for human rights: women rights, children right (schools shooting), Gay rights, ‘Me too’ rights of women against harassment, even a tennis player claiming the right to break her racket in court like men do, etc. One would consider movements like that in Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia as sign of progress, but in the USA, they mean something else. They mean that the society is waking up from a deep self deception wave to some facts that need to be faced.
How could that happen in the USA. It is a country that has half of the best 100 universities in the world, garnered and still reaping half the Nobel prizes in sciences, gave the world some of the most beneficial inventions we are enjoying, and is the young country that dispelled the fable of Roya Rule and introduced the republican system of government. The USA, was for two centuries a great contributor to the progressive social ideologies and some moral issues too. 
What could have happened lately for the USA to degrade its political problems to some moral issues.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Trump and social change in the USA
III. Social Change and its Tribulations.
Any social change in any part of the world would affect the rest of the world, depending on circumstances and other factors that are outside the limits of this post. Some changes are easy to talk about because of their clarity and undeniable agreement on their impact, while other changes are not, like the current changes in Africa and their expected impact on the geopolitics of the world in the future.  
After WWII Europe took less than three decades to recover, reorganize, unite, and move toward stable democracies, resulting in unification. Because of the nature of the link between Europe and the US that major change had an immediate and strong impact on the US, but so on Europe too. The US had to adjust to relating to  equals, who continued to change to the better. The eighties' century witnessed  very ‘surprising’ changes.  Soviet Union and China, the two big communist countries (one party system) changed direction. The Russian party under the leadership of Gorbachev and the Chinese party under Deng Chawping reached an internal conclusion that communism has done its work (taking the country out of backwardness to modernism) and was the time to work on allowing the dormant potentials in the country to be activated freely. Gorbachev declared Glasnost and Perestroika, dissolved the Soviet Union, and ended the domination of the Russian Communist party over the communist parties in the Soviets. In China Chawping took a different tact to declare the end of old communism. He maintained the unity of the party as the organization that could manage diversities and control possible forces of disintegration. 
 In Marxism, communism is a stage in socio-historical evolution. It comes when a country is stagnant and not changing. This is why it always came in the form of revolutions because the ruling class always resists change. It is the  responsibility of the ideologues of the communist parties to anticipate and prepare for the next stage after communism. That is what shocked the world when it happened, because those decisions were made by the leaders of the communist parties themselves. All that time, communism was considered an imposition on people, when it originally freed people from the system of servitude that was imposed on them by the Tsars of Russia and the Mandarins of china. However, no one -either from the socialist or the capitalist camps -came up -till now- with what the next stage is going to be (Globalization is not a socio-historical phase).
The US problem with Europe’s change started with R. Reagan. Reagan, in terms of politics and world knowledge was not much better than Trump. But his sunny and charming personality, the optemistic smile on his face helped people to forgo several inappropriate situations. At the time of his presidency the republican party had distinguished minds and Reagan showed willingness to leave serious matters to the experts. He gave the US a pleasant period of governance. Unfortunately, instead of noting and thinking of what was happening in Europe and China a wave self-deception swathed the political scene. Reagan, was very ill-informed about what was happening outside the US. He did not realize that Gorbachev was taking Russia to a new phase in its history, and china was preparing for a new place under the sun. Naively, he thought that asking Gorbachev to bring the Berlin wall down was like God’s promise to Joshua to bring Jericho’s wall down.  He also thought that the evil empire (Lenin inherited the Tsars empire and divided it into 15 sovereign Soviets) disintegrated on his demand, when the fact was that the communist party had decided, few years before, to chnage. Self-deception by considering the world changes a result of the US victory in the cold war had serious negative results. One of those results is the US getting in unwise involvement in the politics of the middle east (Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, etc) and becoming a target for Islamic phantasm.
After Reagan the US had two reasonably informed president, Bush senior, and Clinton (excluding certain personal attributes). It also had Obama who is politically on the same level of the best politicians in Europe. Since Reagan, the wave of self-deception and pompous grandiosity kept ebbing and lurking in the background till the election of Trump. Self-deception in terms of pomposity and grandiosity got reversed. 
Instead of saying “we are the greatest and the best” it is now we want to go back to being the best and the greatest.
This is a political riddle, but psychoanalytic thinking could be of much help in solving this riddle.
Psychoanalysts working with social phenomena use one of the three metapsychologies: topographic, economic, and the dynamic. Most, prefer the dynamic metapsychology because it allows them to mix it with the structural point of view (Ego, Id, Super ego). Thus, they could utilize the known psychodynamics of the individual in explaining social phenomena in the same way. This is not right because there is are collective social agencies like group ego or social id; individual agencies are products of individual experiences. However, using the topographic metapsychology, with a fundamental change could be closer to correctness. The fundamental change is reversing the link between the conscious and the unconscious in social phenomena: What is conscious in the individual is unconscious in the society, and visa-versa (most sexual problems in an individual are unconscious, but they are conscious social issues).  I made that observation and could support by evidence, but I am not sure of my explanation of it. 
The individual is born with mental function that needs and is disposed to mature. It starts with the dominance of primary process in it workings but gradually  the secondary process prevails without the elimination of the primary process. The subject is born with ‘an’ unconscious that is allows the emergence of  consciousness. The society is formed of the consciousness of its individuals but engenders unconscious strata of its consciousness. An Islamic society is conscious of its ideology but is unconscious of its illogical sense of entitlement.
Back to the USA of Trump. Firstly, there is Trump’s base on one side and the rest of the US. Trump’s base is consciously admitting that the US is not great and they have to go back to be great again. Unconsciously, they do not see hope in change and advancing to a different future. This view is supported and evidenced by their hanging on to the economic boom of the present and refusing to look at its roots in the near past and the dangers around its future. Trump’s base is unconsciously pessimistic and incapable of facing a reality that could be very different from their phantasies.  The rest of the US is conscious of critical situation and unconsciously realizes that their country has to go through radical change not just cosmetic retouching. But, this large section of the US people faces three preconscious real difficulties. The first is that a loud call for change could put them in conflict with the so-called American Values (not the place for dealing with that topic here). The second is a long history of distorted meanings of conceptions, interpretations, terminology, and superficial understanding of some of the items of the Bill of Rights. The third is the two-party system. The recent political events in the US exposed the danger to democracy under a two-party system, and fragility of the checks and balances as a guarantee for the rule of law.
History is progress in a dialectical motion: event-its antithesis- a synthesis that becomes the thesis of the next step.  Obama’s presidency looked like a synthesis of Clinton’s and Bush’s (junior) presidencies.  It was not, it was a unique presidency because it declared a radical change in the American society- electing a black president and having a strong- effective- federal government. Then comes Trump to spoil all expectations and defies ‘all mighty history’. Are American people going to restore history’s dignity and make the needed radical changes to its sytem? Or are we (Canadians and the people of the Americas) going endure the brunt of continued political Trump hurricanes?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Trump and social change in the USA
III.a. The Leader and His Followers.

The similarity between Trump’s movement and ISIS ideology brings us to the
 main question that I intend to address in the next and last part of this posting:
Does psychoanalysis have something to say about those observations?

For now, I will just make some preparatory remarks on the link between the leader and people.

In usual historical events when people choose their leaders on the basis of deliberate political agreement on some objectives to be reached. The agreement is always under consideration, meaning no permeant or binding commitment, and its continuity is conditional on success or failure of the objectives. History in this case keeps following in its natural course toward change and better conditions. We usually depict History in our designs or caricatures as an old man carrying a large Volume and sometimes a lamp. History in our minds is old and a product of the past. Far from truth and fact. History is people who are in constant states of evolution and change. History is the child of the present and the future. If there is no future (change) there would be no past.
But sometimes we witness a different kind of link between leaders and people, where leaders and society seem to be like mirror images and no difference exists between them. Yet, there is a difference between people\leader who share the opinion of going forward and change, and a unity on wanting to stop progress or even going back. Despite the unavoidability of progress we sometimes find societies or groups in a society resisting change and even prefer going back (progress backward) to the past. Thus, we should make a distinction between leader\people who share the aspiration of evolving and another that call for going back. The difference as will see is very dramatic. When a leader\duo is founded to regress or arrest progress the results are very destructive, Hitler’s search for people who share his xenophobic convictions moved from Austria to Germany and found them. They created that explosive historical event of WWII. They did not accept the end of dynastic rule of Europe and move to democracy. On the other hand, when the leader\people duo is based on a desire to progress and reach the future quicker the results are equally impressive. Chinese people awakening in the late twenties (last century) to the need to topple the Qing dynasty coincided with Maw Zedng’s joining the Chinese communist party and joining the awakened China. The result was creating one of the most positive historical events in history. In both cases a question remains unanswered: is the similarity between leader and society created or maintained by the leader or does the society pressures the leader to not deviate from the desired regress? We should look at past events to help us to an answer.
Islam: Seventh Century.
Islam appeared in the western part of the Arabian Peninsula or Hejaz in the middle of the seventh century. The two main empires around that part of the world (the Sassanian in Persia and the Eastern Roman in Egypt and to an extent in Palestine were at the end of their time). A great historical change was in the making. At the same time, Hejaz which was not part of that interplay was also going through major changes. It was an area getting more rich from trade between north and south. Makkah, the political and religious center of the area was getting organized and tribal rivalries were finally subdued peacefully. Bani Hashem (the rabbinical family of el Kaabah) were well established in Makkah. Yet, people were looking for something more than a “temple” and Rabbis. They wanted a wholly book like the Christians and the Jews have. A wholly book is ‘a constitution’ and demanding one was sig that the Bedouins of the Arab peninsula ar ready to form a nation. Mohamad, the grandson of the chief rabbi of Makkah was preaching new ideas of a more advanced religious dogma and started to get followers. He also claimed that he gets his thought from the one and only God, thus he was quietly creating that revered wholly book. His grandfather and his tribe wanted him out of Makkah, while a neighboring city (Yathreb or the Madina) was looking for a leader. It was also a city in the midst of political turmoil with aspirations of its own.. Mohamad moved there to become ordained as their leader. There were two Jewish tribes in the Medina who were eventually neutralized. Mohamad found his people as his people found him. The field was ready for new farmer to seed it with a new crop. The new Arab Moslem nation was ready to move and fill the cultural vacuum in the area. However, all that does not explain how Islam became the second most popular religion on earth. Islam came with three very advanced things: a more sophisticated language and named it the language of the Koran so people had to learn it to practice religion. The second, Islam’s sectorial division (Sunna and Shee’a) happened very early and was geographically determined, so each of the two sects evolved separately and expanded without conflict or serious material confrontations (as what happened in Europe with Christianity). A third thing Islam came up with is a wholly book that comprise a great deal of detailed directives for daily dealings and conduct, However, it has many contradictions regarding religious matters so it was flexible enough to be accepted by all.
In nut shell changing people of Arabia created and used well the historical circumstances to advance by finding the right leader and leadership. They also carried the ball and kept evolving the meaning of their wholly book to meet the new circumstances. In the Koran there is an AYA that quotes God saying: From amongst you shose those who rule you.
The Chinese Revival:
It looks like there is no beginning for the history of China so we will start from the end of the last dynasty of Qing. Sun Yat-sen’s sixteenth telegram to the Empress of the Qing dynasty (not sure of the number) declaring ‘just’ the last failure to depose her made Maw Zedong to say to him enough this nonsense. He was a son of a rich farmer but had his own views of great china. He joined the Chinees Communist Party and got some Marxist indoctrination in addition to being surrounded by some well learned Marxists he started to build the “people army”. With little Marxist ideologies about workers’ rights and political and tactical genius he moved with his budding army to the countryside. Then he decided to take a trek with the army of 10,000 k to North west of china. During that trek Maw met all kind of Chinese in hamlets, villages, towns, farms, factories. He learned from them what they are and taught them few things about organizing themselves. The great March was exemplary of the duo of leader\ people: Maw and his party learned about the diverse country they were to rule, and the country learned how to get organized to be ruled differently. And Voila: Modern China. One side note: Maw’s limited knowledge of the Marxist ideology he adopted was about to cause a total collapse of his endeavor in the seventies (the cultural revolution).
Cause or Effect or Neither:

The question paused above about who causes what to the other in the duo of leader \people has an answer: People (history) changes as a natural unavoidable process. Change creates two reactions in the population of the society: one wants to carry on and hasten the change and another wants to halt and delay change by many means. Each will be looking for the proper leader. many times the wrong leader becomes available and historical events take a bad turn: When the mood is to progress and there is no progressive leaders (the middle east now) the result is social disintegration.  When the mood is regression and there is no leader for that political disintegration occur (Somalia, Haiti). When regressive forces find its leader the Trump kind of society emerges.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Yesterday and today were almost totally dedicated to the Eulogies of Aretha Franklin and John Mccain. They gave some ideas and though they could be shared with others

In the last few days a great singer and a very distinguished politician died in the USA. It is natural that the whole nation felt sad for the loss. All nations feel the same in losses of that nature. Aretha Franklin and John McCain were, with no doubt, at the top of their areas of activity. They also exceeded the limits of their excellence and affected their country in general. This is expected of people with their gifts and character.  But, the degree and the way a nation mourns is indicative of other things than just experiencing the loss.
The USA has dozens of great singers, and among them at least a dozen with a different skin colour. In its house of representatives and the Senates there are tens of distinguished members who did not have the chance to shine because of the glare of other more popular members. The American nation is reacting to its loss as if the country is sinking and looking for straws to hang on to for fear of drawing. Is there any rationalization for those unreasonable exaggerated reactions to the country’s loss? Realistically, there is no reason for that sense of desperation that is mixed with adulation, especially that it is done with subtle and no so subtle narcissistic derivatives. This last observation is important to keep in mind.
Every citizen obtains some narcissistic support from his social affiliations as his nationality or his profession, etc. That portion of personal narcissism mixes with social narcissism to build a stable character. But if the main source of narcissism comes from social narcissism we will be facing a volatile identity (ies). Two things worth mentioning in that regard: the reaction to personal narcissistic mortification is not anger; it is rage. The mortification of socially based narcissism is social unrest that reaches in many occasions the state of war. Wars are only possible when there is social narcissistic sense of neglect and injury. It easy then to understand that some people join the Nazi party or the White Supremacy Clans. In the south of the USA most the members of those organizations are people who have little personal attributes to be proud of. The most seriously dangerous aspect in that kind of narcissism is mixing it with issues of ‘principles’, ‘history’ and ‘values’. They are the magical mirror that reflects an exaggerated sense of envy, impotence and importance too.
That is what is noticeable in eulogizing John McCain and Aretha Franklin.
The USA has been experiencing some difficulties with its social narcissism since the end of WWII, and in a concrete way since 1963 when Europe imitated the EU. As Europe was building its own social narcissism, and East Asia doing the same, the US was changing. The US was going through a significant and very healthy change that was getting her out of sick stagnation founded on self deception regarding ‘social narcissism’. Self deception is the remedy to failure of narcissism in providing imaginary superiority. The eulogies of the two departing great Americans were and are still full of seduction to regress to social narcissism.
This is where I believe there is a looming danger. Trump warned of “violence” if his status is touched. He is right. His base has nothing to be proud of except their defiance of the obvious incompetence of their leader. The forces of change are not announcing the reality of their intentions and the forces against change are denying the reality of change and its inevitability. Here I have to bring to the argument somethings that are never mentioned in their context: Violence in the US has been increasing steadily as social and not individual trends. The expansion of the right to own assault weapons, mass shooting, shooting helpless students, police brutality with some minorities, wars abroad that has been going on close to two decades and looking for new fronts to wage more wars, and the tendency of some unlawful ideological to be socially expressed under the first amendment umbrella. All that makes even Trump’s warning of violence has credence.
It is imperative and timely that the professionals in the mental health professions give most of their attention to social psychopathology even if they are not trained to do that. They are part of the educated American body and should forget their professional narcissism and be just decent American narcissistic intellectuals.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Trump and social change in the USA
II. No mistakes in history.

Every time I attended a discussion- in Egypt- about a historical event, which was usually attended by a known Egyptian professor of history who worked with J.H. Breasted’s (American historian), he repeated Breasted’s famous adage: History has no mistakes.  Explaining it he said: history, which is people, is full of choices and whatever people chose proved to be the right choice…always.

Having lived -in amazement- the events and the final choice people made to elected Trump I find it difficult to see the logic behind that choice, or Breasted’s adage. Could Breasted be wrong this once? It is a situation that is pregnant with many serious questions. Should the doubt in the correctness of history be general? The event of electing Trump hasn’t come to a conclusion yet. Maybe the choice people made was not electing Trump but rejecting Hilary Clinton. What complicates the matter further is the gradual increase in accepting Trump, despite the glaring evidence of his instability. Moreover, he did not show any positive attribute that might have balanced out his negativities. On the contrary; his base is still solidly behind him in spite of his daily blunders. It would not have been so problematic if it was only his base that maintained their approval. Senior leaders of the Republican party, who despised him before- became staunch supporters. What does this event mean?
The election of a Trump in some other countries would not raise many eyebrows, but to happen in the USA boggles the mind. In countries like Libya and Uganda, Eidi-Amin and Ghaddafi types of leader is the average, and there is no history of much better choices in those countries. But it is not fathomable to happen in the sates that has a record of unusual men who became presidents, and just two few years ago elected twice a black politician, not for the color of his skin, but for his political and personal distinctions.
There is another reason that muddies the meaning of electing Trump. Elections are political events and could be interpreted politically. Electing Trump proved to be more of other things and less of a political event. Two proofs to that: after more than two years we still cannot identify any political connotations to Trump’s administration. He conflicted with old allies and failed in making of old adversaries new friends. The president’s daily autistic decisions and policies are mostly contradictory and everything he says is tentative and unhinged. Those two features prevent considering Trump’s election a political event that had a defined objective (I will come back ‘to make America great again’ and examine its political denotation). His policy is not even representative of the Republican Party’s ideology or ethics.

However, there is a noticeable parallelism between Trump’s character and the character and personality of his popular base. They share two adagios: causes justify the means (no reference to American values) , and reality is an inconvenience and could just be disregarded .  Trump has no compunction doing anything to get what he wants. His base does not mind closing its “Christian Eye” and its common sense just to keep the second amendment. It also ignores the incompetence of administration and its corruption to preserve the Republican edict of no government intervention in private matters.  
This is where the real problem rests: Whenever the leader and his crowd share the same mental, moral, and the level of comprehending the political situation we face a socio-historical event that cannot be understood politically. The USA is not going through a political crisis; it is going through socio-historical phase.

A historical context:
The relationship- in history- between causes and effects and the final outcome takes decades, and in some cases more than a century.
For a quick account of the causes of what I am discussing I would go back seventy years or so. The First World War succeeded in ending a world that was ruled by dynasties and imperialism. The Second World War was between the new political entities created by WWI- a world of mostly newly formed countries that are just out of the hegemony of the ruling dynasties. By the end of WWII new political entities or countries emerged (East Europe, South America, Russia, China, and few Asian countries that gained their independence from European colonizing countries that were devastated by the war). The USA was the greatest country in the world forty or fifty years ago, when those new political entities were just recovering from the war. During that time the USA was -by default- the greatest. But once those countries regained their old status the USA became one among a group of great countries. Europe, Japan, China and lately Russia have become equal or very close to equal to the USA. Trump and his base, and maybe the Republican party too, call for going back seventy years to the time when the USA was the greatest, but they cannot force the world to back with them in that retrogressive endeavor.

During the time the world was progressing the USA was also progressing DESPIT MANY SEEN AND UNSEEN FORECES that were against change and advancement. Women proved their equality and imposed their rights, maybe factually more than legally. The labor forces and the working class appeared as a very effective political force that political parties had to reckon with and to seriously address their demands. The black community achieved, in very few decades, consideration, recognition, admission of injustices, confirmation of rights, practicing equality, and finally the presidency. Liberalism was exempted from being called foreign anti-American ideology and changed to being called local anti-American ideology, to being youth agitating thinking, to be (shyly) an uncomfortable political ideology. The USA entered a new phase of change. It is not still a country in the making of territories states and rejoins but a full-fledged country. She is not that immigration destination across the ocean but an impressive nation among the rest of the advanced (Civilized ?!) nations. Those changes and their derivatives were not observed and absorbed homogeneously in the country. Some knew about them and some did not.

In a nut shell the USA has undergone a process of change that is as remarkable as what happened in China, Russia, and Western Europe, with one basic and very important difference. Americans resisted and still resist admitting that they could have changed, as if by doing that they betray their highly prized history and their almost blind belief that they were perfect from the day of gained their independence from Great Britain (as if they believed that the history before history). There is an understandable and explainable reason for that. After enjoying, for seventy years an uncontested sense of greatness and boasting about the American way, the America superior qualities and the uniqueness of the USA’s history and society it is not easy to admit that changes (let alone calling for it) could have happened. That would have been an implicit acceptance that matters were not and are not as perfect as was once thought and claimed. The USA entered a phase of narcissistic upheaval.

At this point I have to explain my understanding of the term narcissism. Narcissus fell in love with a picture of himself reflected on the surface of water. Narcissism is this knowing and living one’s reflection as he, himself. Because there no way for the human subject to know himself directly as knowing the other, he has to have his image, presumably emanating from him, reflected on something to pronounce his existence. This where humans differ: they differ in what they consider the best attributes that reflects their truth, what they choose to reflect them, and the richness and poverty of the aspects of the self that a subject uses in showing his narcissism. Some Americans derive their narcissism from their nationality, like ISIS people derive it from being Moslem.  Some get it from being a veteran, some being a graduate of Harvard, and fewer get from being ‘me’. This socio-historical phase encompasses the crisis created by the election of Trump.

The Socio-Historical Phase:
In principle and almost agreed upon history a chain of dialectical events. An event happens, the anti-event follows and some synthesis forms and becomes the thesis of the next phase. The first Iraqi war happened with the USA getting support from its allies as the leader of the west. It was followed by nine eleven and Bosh II could not get the support for his second Iraqi war (the antithesis). The Synthesis Obama’s successful reunification of the west in other political events. Obama Introduced the USA to the world as a different great nation and country that does not insist on leading but is qualified to be the leader, a mature USA. The socio-historical phase that the States entered was a new definition of greatness that is not founded of self-deception. At the same time the home society became more a greeble to turning around ninety degrees accepting the government’s bailout of the crisis created by the free hand of the heads of the free financial system. The USA was changing both internally and externally. A new and an unthinkable social reality was being established.

A narcissistic blow to a sizable section of the society was looming over the heads. The election of Trump was not a historical mistake, or a calculated event, but was a spontaneous point by point an antithetical event to Obama’s phase. Trump’s obsession with Obama’s rule attest to the correctness of the narrow assessment of the wide ranged crisis imposed on the people of the USA.

In terms of regular psychoanalytic thinking and terminology I could say: there is fixation on an infantile phantasy of greatness, resistance to grow up which would uncover the existence of that phantasy, longing to the time of the omnipotence of thinking. The parallel self-deception of Trump and his base is tempting to stop the subtle ongoing changes in the USA and claim that they already discovered the cause and the effect of not ‘making America Great again”. Reaching a point like this in the history of a nation is dangerous. Hitler failed in Austria- his country- to create a base that parallels his morbid thoughts about the Arian Race. He found that in Germany and the result is known. Instead of giving more examples from history of the danger of similarity between a leader’s conception of his needs for glory (or whatever) and people conception for need similar to those of the leader I will mention something similar that is happening now.
ISIS is an organization that advocated going back to the time when Islam was the only organized power in the active world. They call for invoking Islam as a superior ideology and Moslems as superior breed of people. They also accuse the world of conspiring on them to prevent them from regaining their rightful position to rule the world. We should also remember that Trump has threatened the USA adversaries of extreme use of force to impose his will on them if they resisted. The most remarkable about ISIS’s movement is its appeal to some Moselm intellectuals who carry grievances against the USA (reminding of the support of some senior members of the Republican party). The similarity between Trump’s movement and ISIS ideology brings us to the main question that I intend to address in the next and last part of this posting:
Does psychoanalysis have something to say about those observations?
It does for many reasons but I will restrict my answer to the nature and difference of the psychoanalytic way of thinking of individual psychodynamics and what looks as if is the same socially.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Trump and social change in the USA

 I received several emails chastising me for posting my opinion of The President of a country I am not a citizen of. As long as the US claims to be the leader of the Western world (the free world !!) and I live in that part of the world now I have he right and the responsibility to state my opinion of that president, even if in some places I might touch the internal affairs of the US. I was also criticized of giving Trump the diagnosis of autism because most professional either disagree with the diagnosis or have other diagnoses. Most of the disagreements on the diagnosis of autism are  based on the absence of the common behavioral symptoms we usually see in  afflicted children. Autism is not a childhood disease; autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. The degree of disorganization in an autistic person has to measured not by the open symptoms, but by the core problem in autism: External Reality. The autistic person gives the signs that he is unable to put his own reality aside to react to external reality (our reality). What I am going to say is not in any way related to ‘the alternate reality’ that is used in the vocabulary of the white house to cover up Trump's extreme intolerance of external reality. External reality is what stands out of the realm of fantasy, imagination, daydreaming, i.e.. It exists on its own, independent of the person who is perceiving it. 

There are three other realities that also exist but do not conflict with external reality much. The first is the reality of the neurotic and some borderline cases. This reality is formed in childhood and becomes fixed and imposes itself on the subject in certain circumstances. However, it does not affect its 'real reality' or other realities that are formed before or after its formation. In spite of the fixation of that reality the neurotic knows the difference between what he reacts to as reality and the reality of his neurosis. The most demonstrative of that reality is the phobias. The phobic patient panics in the dark yet he knows that there is nothing really out there that justifies his panic. 

The second reality is mainly a problem in character neurosises. The patient of character disorder does not accept or agree with certain external realities because they stand in the way of the functions of his character formation. He tries to change that ‘frustrating’ reality by will and intention (ignore, avoid, fight, lie about, etc.). But, in doing any or all those things he still knows that the reality he does not accept exits out there and that it just irks him. He never forgets its presence.

In all those conditions the subject visits external reality and reacts to it emotionally. The phobic who turns the light in the whole house still complains of his illogical fear. The psychopath tries to gain the confidence of those whom he would like to sheet and react narcissistically to his successes and failures in changing the reality of certain situation to manage his psychopathy.

The third reality is the reality of the autistic. The autistic -child or adult- seems, looks, and behaves as if he is shielded from external reality. External reality does not elicit reactions from him and he swings from rage to apathy if it is forced on him. The autistic does not respond to both external causes of frustration or satisfaction. Yet, the autistic seems to have some sort of reality that keeps him busy all the time. It is what appears to us as sort of ‘him’. An example to that reality is Trumps tweets. they reflect what is occupying his mind which most of the time relates insignificant realities or relates in strange ways.

To be accurate I should say something about 'him'. existence "him"  saying that. For the him to exist there should be some psychological space between the acting self and the observing self . The autistic (Trump) does not have this gap. This shows in always talking about the people who deal with his "him" not of the him.The gap between the acting and the observing him is  necessary for making judgment, taking decision or even feeling  something that pertains to a situation. Trump is undifferentiated psychologically.  He  self-generates reality (the most... in history, the most ridiculous, etc) and stops at that. His reactions to his created realities happen without a sense of ‘will’ (only twitting or so called lying, etc. )The young woman I mentioned before was able to give us a hint of what happens in the mental life of the autistic if he gets moments of release from autism: he sees external reality but it does not create  an impact on his cognitive functions.

Going back to Trump we can easily realize that external reality does not exist for him or even conflict with his self generated realities. There is two features in trumps autistic reality: he is quite content with whatever reality his autism imposes on him at any time (that was why he seems inconsistent or liar). The second is a strong need to exaggerate about his reality. This could deceive us psychoanalysts and we give it a psychodynamic meaning. Exaggeration of autistic reality is an attestation to its lack of importance to the autistic.  The observations that led me to my diagnosis are debatable but undeniable.

He is a person who is oblivious of what others think or feel about him. I do not know a psychodynamic condition that causes such affective deficiency without some psychotic concomitants with it. but I also cannot see any features of psychosis in Trump. This condition is not associated with aggressive or sadistic component to be consider an affective disorder. Few years ago, a British medical journal published a research on autism stipulating the existence (or none existence !?) of a Genetic factor associated with the autistic total lake of emphatic qualities. This is prevalent state in autism and very obvious in Trump's human relationships.

After two years he still has nothing presidential about him (except those funny head posture of grandiosity). The man is not even aware that he constitutes a reality to others and what he says or does is not taken as coming from him personally but from the person he has become (the president).. He is not even narcissistic to be concerned about his image.

All this could be boring or interesting. However, we should not just stop at Trump’s autism. There are tens of millions in the US who do not see how ‘strange’ and unfit Trump is.  The Republican party too supports The President blindly to cover up his  faults. Normally, leaders try to achieve the objectives and aspirations of his people. The situation raises straightforward questions in regard to the trump phenomenon: 

1. Could a country like the US elect someone like Trump by mistake or should we look for other reasons for that the mistake?

2. Could there be social or historical factors behind the Trump phenomenon?

3. If there are what could psychoanalysts say about them?

In the next section I will try to answer the first two questions.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Trump II

Back to Diagnosis:
I mentioned above, that the psychodynamic diagnoses, even the ones I entertained, did not convince me. There are several reasons; the most important was that they do not take in consideration the mental and cognitive anomalies Trump kept revealing more of every day. In other words, no psychodynamic diagnosis could explain the other none psychodynamic pathologies his behaviour revealed. I did not have any explanation for the glaring deficiencies in Trump’s psychological life, even before the nomination for the elections. However, Dr. Jackson’s suggestion of neuropsychological testing kept ‘teasing’ my thoughts. I never administered a neuropsychological battery in my clinical psychology career. I know very little about them, but some of the symptoms I mentioned above fall within the known famous battery of test in my time The Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery. Only when I though seriously about that possibility I remembered a radio interview and discussion of more than twenty year ago with a young woman who wrote a book about her autism. I still remember my amazement that autism is so many degrees and of several types and not only the typical condition of childhood disintegrated intellectual faculties. She also indicated that she had moments or sort of periods when she was in touch with “your reality” but still was unable to have full contacts with US. I compared Trump’s symptoms to this case and others that I reviewed to prepare for my post. I was more comfortable with the diagnosis of autism than any psychodynamic diagnosis. What encourages me to stick to that possibility is what is known about Winston’s Churchill’s known diagnosis as a child of being autistic. One of the Nobel prize winners (Dr. Nash was a severe case of autism). My internet part of my survey brought to me a memory of a grandmother who told me about her autistic grandson. She said that he sometimes had what looked like clear up of his autism for a couple of hours. During that period, he liked to draw and she showed me some of his drawings. They were of apartment buildings and streets that were very neat and had unusual details. On one of the pages in an article on autism there a drawing by an autistic person which was very similar to that child’s drawings, both in the subject and the details of the subject. I think the young woman’s statement of being in our reality explains the drawing of the autistics: they sometimes get fully if not intensely immersed in external reality. The review of the recent literature on autism gave me the impression that trump could easily fit in this category of psychopathology, but even explain many contradictions in his image as a normal person.
My suggestion that Trump could have a degree or a type of autism which gives this unusual clinical picture is not based on positive neuropathological signs but on the insufficient presence of psychodynamic signs that could also take care of his mental and cognitive symptoms.
3.     Trump the Misfit that Fits Perfectly:
Trump’s inability to navigate a thinking process, to realize the necessity of taking definite positions from the reality he is facing, and his innate limited affective life are truly handicapping factors in his performance as the president of a country with size and importance of the USA. There is no way to avoid two questions: What could that historical anomaly mean in general terms? How could we understand such gross historical mistake?
The election system in the US is not strait forward one person one vote.  There are certain other provisions related to an early (historical) reservation that required creating a checks and balance way to avoid a simple one person one vote system. As a result, Trump did not get the majority votes but was elected by the power of his party. To put it bluntly, according to one person one vote principle Trump did got the presidency the common meaning of the term democracy.  Coincidentally, this result is logical under the general circumstances. I mentioned before that there is another factor in social movements beside the nature of the leader that determines the outcome. At a time when history is at a major general turning point the political succession in the different parts of the world seem to happen in a predetermined way, where the change in political authority gets more systematized according to stable dialectical system.
Since the end of the second world war the world was reorganizing it self in a way that evades world wars again. In a very brief note: the world got organized on the principle of networking instead of hierarchy. There are few large political constellations of countries that are relating globally without the old notion of a leading nation (the principle of empires). The short form of it: for five or six decades the USA was at the summit of the world: the leader of the ‘good’ nations. Now, the USA is one of a worldwide net of nations. This fact is not sitting well with the US political leadership that maintained that the US is the leader of the ‘free world’. The political administration before Obama entered two unjustified wars to exercise its influence. The two wars did not give the desired result. The outcome was electing the antithesis of bush, a savvy internationalist president who endeared the US and himself to the world. Eight years of that was not enough to turn the US around, and the US is back to the phantasy of “America Great Again”. There came the misfit who fitted this idea perfectly. Trump exemplifies and personifies the US reaction to historical change: a muddled up mind, a white house in disarray, an administration that survives on denial and autistic thinking. Americans stumbled over the best leader for the moment. However, the consistency of historical evolution gives us some clues to what to expect next.
There are some political Taboos in the life of the average America citizen that hinders making changes in the status quo.  There are also some Totems that are worshiped and it would be blasphemous to get rid of or replace. The term working class was a taboo because it was associated with the labor parties in the rest of the world, which were left wing and liberal Thus they were against Americans idealization of individuality and some traditional thought related to ‘moral values”. But, unemployment and wages showed that is called middle class is actually a working class. Lately, the word socialism was mentioned with some difficulty but it is no longer a taboo. The clear defined aspirations of the youth in the states is also a sign of the death of another taboo which is the need for more political parties in a country as vast as the US with its population diversity. Till now there are factions in the two parties that seem to be clearly ignoring the social, political, and ideological taboos. The Totem of the forefathers seem to be losing is absolutism and sanctity. There are significant questions raised about the rights of the individual and the authority of the government in regard to social versus moral conflicts.  
Trump is fit for this stage in American and Global change. He is so imposing to let us forget what should be done. Whether the antithesis of Trumpism will com in two years or six is not easy to predict.
What about psychoanalysis!  
Because this posting is written with psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts in mind I wish that what I am concluding from politics (in the US in particular) can be applied to the crisis of psychoanalysis: it has taboos and Totems that need to be examined so we get ourselves rid from our self-imposed chains. We need to get rid of the taboo of training and adopt the natural idea of education. We should get rid of the taboo of personal analysis as therapeutic necessity and accept it as a didactic step in the formation of the analyst. We should get rid of the taboo that the psychoanalysis is a profession of psychotherapy and look at it as a human science instead. We should get rid of the Totems of the old schools and avoid forming new Totems of the new forming schools. We should get rid of the Totem of the training analysts and accept the fact that analysis is not transmitted from generation to generation through ‘master’ but thorough teaching systems.
We should accept that we are not a special breed of professionals because we a closed community of practitioners; no autism.