This Independence Day we continue to witness unprecedented events in the United States and globally. Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933, 1946) is still the most advanced analysis explaining the irrationality of life in 2018 in the U.S.
We invite you to read Reich's and Lowen's quotes that speak to the current insanity, and Frederic Lowen's special essay "Remembering Liberties Lost" asserting that "as psychotherapists, we have a responsibility to understand and track our clients’ whole reality, for it is otherwise outside of every other professional field.
The government, like the people, is un-grounded, split and disconnected, valuing power over life, responding inappropriately to real issues, and not even recognizing or acknowledging real issues. If it sounds like a typical client in psychotherapy, it is not coincidental. If the American population was a single person, with it’s conflicts and self-destructiveness, s/he would need emergency psychotherapy."
The world is certainly different, and changing ever faster. We have reason to hope this negative chaos will lead to a positive emergence. Continue reading >
From The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich:
"Human structure of untold masses... had become totally dependent upon authority, incapable of freedom and extremely accessible to mysticism... The inhibition of rebellion itself is unconscious. In the consciousness of the average nonpolitical man there is not even a trace of it. The result is conservatism, fear of freedom, in a word, reactionary thinking... Will individual and social freedom, will the self-regulation of our lives and of the lives of our offspring, advance peacefully or violently? It is a fearful question. No one knows the answer..."
From The Betrayal of the Body by Alexander Lowen:
"Behind every illusion is the desire for freedom and for love. The desperate individual strives for freedom and love through the illusion of power. In his mind, power is the key to freedom and love. Although this illusion serves to sustain his spirit in its despair and helplessness, we have seen that it also maintains the despair and helplessness when the critical period of childhood has passed. To overcome the illusion of power, the reality of freedom and love must be experienced as bodily feelings. This is accomplished by concentrating upon the physical tensions of the body. When a person feels the rigidity of his body, he will know that he is not frozen, he will know that he is shackled, whatever his external situation may be. If he becomes aware that his respiration is inhibited and his motility reduced, he will realize that he is not able to love."
Welcome to Trumpland
Vermont, USA 2018
As a psychotherapist it is my responsibility to understand and track my clients’ reality as best I can. In the same spirit, I believe psychotherapists uniquely have the responsibility and the opportunity to understand, and to speak to the socio-political economic insanity that has pervaded Western culture.
Here in the US it is most striking. Still the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the globe by far, the increased stress, anxiety, insecurity, and desperation much of the population experiences is historic and unnecessary. Not coincidentally, the destructiveness of the current government is unprecedented, at least in my lifetime. In many ways this is nothing new. The trend towards a government-corporate partnership enabling and promoting the exploitation of the population and the environment has been in place a long time.
What is new is the consolidation of governmental power into the extreme right wing of the Republican political party, already the most dangerous organization in the world, under the near-invisible guidance of a small group of extremely wealthy individuals. The “election” of Donald Trump, contrary to the opinion of his supporters, has stimulated the status quo like steroids stimulate an athlete. Instead of “draining the swamp” he has only deepened it with sewage. Although the Republicans are most effective at achieving their self-enriching self-glorifying objectives, the Democratic party is no better with their complicity, hypocrisy, and impotence. The people are not represented, they are simply exploited along with our beautiful natural world.
The list of the dysfunctional aspects, the inequities, exploitations, and injustices of our country is encyclopedic. It is too much to consider here. However, it is important to understand the role of “fake news,” as it is an outrageous development (as if on steroids) of psychological manipulation designed to further disable people’s ability to discern reality. Fake news has even become so acceptable and normal here and now in Trumpland, only the most outrageous of blatant presidential lies are reported in the news anymore, alongside the most recent mass shooting, devastating storm, wildfire, or political outing. Presidential lying is now the norm, and journalists debate whether they can use the words “lie” or “lying.”
Similarly, the government has forbidden any reference to global warming in any government literature or publication, scientific or otherwise. This facilitates the massive deregulation of Republican-favored toxic industry groups. In collaboration, the national media has channeled the little discussion and reference to this environmental catastrophe into the innocuous and scientifically/psychologically meaningless term “climate change.” Climate catastrophe, climate chaos, or climate calamity describe the reality. Even during the wave of unprecedented and historic storms and forest fires in 2017, the media would not even mention climate change in their hours of sensationalized reporting glorifying resilience and adaptation, despite the obvious and scientifically undisputed causal linkage.
As a bioenergetic therapist, I see the function of “fake news” as to exacerbate the mind-body split, a long-standing, widespread, little recognized condition that is fundamental to individual psychological disorder and dis-ease, and societal dysfunction too. For a mind that is disconnected from it’s body, thinking is disconnected from feeling, and reality is a distorted subjective experience. Such minds are vulnerable to manipulation, and are prone to lies and lying as they cannot speak or see their truth, being disconnected from it. Many do not even know their own truth, and confusion is endemic. How many people today walk around without any feeling?....not even knowing that they don’t feel anything? In my experience, quite a few.
More frightening are the people in positions of power and influence who “act out” their disconnected and distorted emotional wounds. Their cognitively-derived ideologies are disconnected from reality and forced upon the population.
More frightening still are the many people, especially in the US, who cannot accurately sense and perceive the sociopolitical economic environment. Through their own emotional wounds they cannot perceive or distinguish what is destructive to their own interests (cultivated partly by fake news), and they too “act out” in a manner driven by the energy of powerfully blocked and distorted emotions and feeling. These people enable and perpetuate our dysfunctionally disconnected society.
Societal dysfunction is little more than the collection of individuals’ mind-body split, writ large.
In this milieu, Donald Trump was injected as U.S. president, almost single-handedly by Robert Mercer. Despite a minority popular vote, Trump “won” with the aid and abetment of Mercer and his big-data company Cambridge Analytica; Russian preference for Trump; long standing Republican efforts to rig elections through gerrymandering and restriction of voting rights; the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); and a seminal 2010 Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United.
Ironically, euphemistically, and psychologically significant, this ruling known as Citizen’s United reflects reality turned upside down and inside out, as it’s outcome was to legalize unlimited anonymous big-donor funding of political objectives and activities, in the name of Free Speech no less.....Hello!!!!!!!! Are there ANY adults paying attention to this wholesale piracy?
That was 2010. Eight years later things are much worse, as if on steroids. BTW, if you don’t know who Robert Mercer is, or the actual function of Cambridge Analytica, or ALEC, you share company with perhaps 98% of Americans. It is partly by design: these primary movers of American society do not have the interests of the people at heart; and they are powerful enough that the national media complies with their desire for invisibility.
For example, Facebook’s misappropriation of 83 million users’ data to Cambridge Analytica was reported as a “privacy issue.” Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook CEO was made to promise to respect users’ data better, and Cambridge Analytica was “forced” into bankruptcy. The media faked outrage over privacy concerns (which is not actually much of a concern to most individuals), and reported that Cambridge Analytica’s efforts in election campaigns has been ineffective over the years, and the Trump campaign did not hire Cambridge Analytica anyways. In all the coverage, I only heard Mercer’s name mentioned once, referred to vaguely as a shareholder of Cambridge Analytica.
In my view, the media has intentionally distracted attention from the fact that Facebook provided intimate emotional-based data to Cambridge Analytica who effectively used it to manipulate voting behavior. It is my opinion that without their involvement, Trump would not be president. And obviously, since Mercer backed Trump with money and personnel in the election campaign, he provided the services of Cambridge Analytica at no charge. I suspect Mercer used Cambridge Analytica as his own fascinating personal toy for manipulating people’s behavior and achieving unprecedented civilian power. Mercer is the Wizard of Oz and Trumpland.
The ability and effectiveness of manipulating voting behavior is a secret they intend to keep. It is Trump’s objective to force States to provide team Trump with the voting records of ALL US voters, likely in order to supplement the 83 million Facebook users data; with additional benefit from further restricting voter rights, advantaging Republicans. It is one of many initiatives team Trump has used to test and stretch the envelope of American democracy and constitutionality, all in the name of “security.”
Unfortunately, this spin kind of reporting, and the lack of reporting, is all part of the effort to establish Fake News as the norm. Unfortunately, it is not only the news that is fake. We have fake healthcare, fake family values, a fake economy with fake tax cuts, a fake government aligned with fake ‘good corporate citizens’ with fake interests in the people. And Americans do not see it as clearly as non-Americans do; such is the true power of our fake media.
Unbelievably, 100 million Americans support Trump and his behavior wholeheartedly and blindly, despite Trump’s initiatives that hurt them, sometimes directly. Trump has said that he could murder someone in Times Square in New York City and his popularity would not decline. For 30% of the US population, it seems true; and that is truly frightening.
Donald Trump is a split individual, whose motivations revolve around attempts to fulfill his perceptions of his father’s expectations, in my opinion. As he sees the world from this perspective, his behavior is oriented towards that fulfillment rather than the business of the U.S. and the world. The world is the poorer for it.
Supporters of Trump are strange, but understandable. On the one hand, the appeal of Trump is his promise to shake-up and break up the system they correctly perceive as dysfunctional, and allow a freedom to arise from the chaos. However, due to their own emotional make-up they also seek strong authoritarian leadership. The appeal of freedom and the appeal of strong authoritarian leadership is incongruous and unreal. It is the manifestation of the split between mind and body, or thinking and feeling. Trump wins their support by appealing to their emotional desire to support an authoritarian leader who will smash the system and provide them freedom and fulfillment. Good luck with that! Further, I am coming to believe that many Trump supporters resonate and identify with his split, as additional appeal. It was not by chance the 2016 presidential campaign was the most emotionally-driven fact-free election in my life, by far.
As we have all seen, an authoritarian approach has already curtailed many liberties and freedoms, promising much more of the same. Rights to truth and transparency in government and corporate affairs; women’s rights to respect and reproductive freedom; rights to clean water, air, and soil; rights to privacy; etc. have all been diminished or dismantled. Meanwhile the freedoms and taxpayer-funded subsidies to large corporations and other government patrons have expanded exponentially under Trump.
I am afraid we will not be rid of Trump or the government-corporate partnership any time soon. And I do not believe sociopolitical, economic, or technological solutions to our many problems will be effective without an understanding of the psychological and energetic aspects of the dysfunction.
In short, the government, like the people, is un-grounded, split and disconnected, valuing power over life, responding inappropriately to real issues, and not even recognizing or acknowledging real issues. If it sounds like a typical client in psychotherapy, it is not coincidental. If the American population was a single person, with it’s conflicts and self-destructiveness, s/he would need emergency psychotherapy.
As psychotherapists, especially body-psychotherapists irrespective of modality, we have a responsibility to convey these understandings, for it is otherwise outside of every other professional field. It is truly the case that solution to societal dysfunction is in helping individuals, and ourselves, in healing the split between mind and body. Again, societal dysfunction is little more than the collection of individuals’ mind-body split, writ large.
The world is certainly different, and changing ever faster. We have reason to hope this negative chaos will lead to a positive emergence.
Let’s enjoy this American holiday and celebrate the freedoms we do have!