Many people in the United States and abroad have been struggling to wrap their heads around how on Earth so many millions of Americans (although not a majority, or even a plurality) actually voted an openly racist, sexist reality TV star to become America’s 45th President.
This question has naturally made its way to psychological researchers, who have received plenty of fodder for their studies on how people act irrationally and against their own interests. Psychologist Michael Bader recently offered a brand new way to view the Trump phenomenon: through child psychology.
He cited research from the 1970’s which investigated what happened to children when their mothers were absent from them emotionally. Relating this to Trump voters who feel disenfranchised by authority figures in modern day America, “When we are powerless to prevent our nervous systems and psyches from being overwhelmed, our physical, emotional, and intellectual development is disrupted. We call this trauma.” He said that, just like these stunted children, Trump voters feel “powerless” to stop their “nervous systems and psyches from being overwhelmed,” and explained: “Societies like ours that are so exceptionally unequal encourage and privilege aggression, paranoia, and competitiveness, traits associated with the so-called ‘rugged individualist.’ While sometimes adaptive, such an ideal also makes a virtue out of disconnection and trauma.”
He added,”This pain is increasingly prevalent among working and middle-class Americans… Their interactions with their doctors, pharmacists, bankers, landlords, state and federal tax collectors, social service agencies, auto dealers, and cable providers are too often marked by frustration and feelings of dehumanization. Like Tronick’s infants, they can’t get anyone to even see them much less smile at or with them.” Do you think this researcher is right about Trumpers?