Bobbi Hoadley

Mental Health and the Trump Election  

I wrote this post in November of 2016. Now,  years later we still see the fallout. 

This week I am consumed with analysing the potential behavioural repercussions of North America’s current disorientation and confusion over an event that few seem to have anticipated, except perhaps the President-elect.  

We know that behaviour adapts to cope with necessary circumstances, and meet the underlying needs of the individual.  I am witnessing that adaptation this week in so many individualized and globalized ways. I am attempting to sort it out because I have a need to feel okay by seeing what may be coming, most often through the analysis of behaviour. Here’s what I have observed so far:  

President-elect Trump has been quite open in his behaviour over the years and while I don’t diagnose or analyse others without invitation, others seem to have accurately described his pattern of behaviour and psychology.  He is currently soundly reinforced and validated. That will keep him in a fair and generous mood where he can behave appropriately at the business meetings before him. When he feels invalidated or challenged by others, which will eventually occur, he is likely to do as he pleases, and his behaviours will escalate. He has been told he is the most powerful man in the world and he will attempt to prove it. That is not my biggest concern as long as he is contained somehow.  

Of the approximately 25% of Americans who voted for President-elect Trump:

  • Most Republicans voted party lines sincerely believing that conservativism can solve the county’s problems and will withstand the growing fascist agenda in the party. Some didn’t vote for President, or they did thinking he couldn’t win. Maybe this will become an example of, “be careful what you wish for.” I hope not.
  • Some voters thought they were making a statement against the status quo. They are tired of rampant political and financial corruption in the US. It is responsible for the fall of an empire that the world used to look up to. The new unified Republican government may show us all how it is done, one way or the other.
  • Some folks voted hoping for an end to the ‘elites’ that have kept them down. Their human rights are regularly ignored and they do not benefit from good health, education and a good way to get what they need.  But the ‘elites’ are just a means to blame a moving target that can’t be defined much less held accountable.  These folks will sadly be disappointed again.
  • A minority of the voters are empowered to act out in tragically anti-social ways against their fellow citizens. They too must be contained, perhaps by the rule of law. As far as I know, free speech does not extend to illegal acts against others.  

Of the approximately 26% who voted for Secretary Clinton most are managing some form of grief, anxiety, depression, traumatic stress or worse.  It is difficult for these voters to find hope in the scenario to come. Many are committing to even more activism and support for their political goals. They are honouring President Obama and his moral authenticity. They have taken to the streets. These people need to take care of themselves and ensure that their current vigilance maintains the positive and peaceful resistance that will see them through. Hypervigilance, fear, anger and worry aren’t heathy behaviours over the long-term.  

My biggest concern are the approximately 48% who didn’t vote. Many people have already learned to cope with the extreme political divisions and animosity between political parties in the United States by disconnecting from it completely. As the asocial and challenging behaviour of President-elect Trump is given credibility, or normalized, or ignored, it leads to a behavioural momentum that could cause the majority of Americans to become even more de-activated politically.  Historically, extreme ideology in the face of a dysfunctional system and dissatisfied citizens has led to blaming behaviour, arbitrarily imposed punishing consequences, and to violence.  

Those of us outside of the US still see that Americans have more in common with each other than not. And despite how they voted, it seems the majority of Americans wish only for goodness, charity and prosperity for themselves and their neighbours, like the rest of humanity.  As far as I know, that is the group dynamic that must positively support the behaviour of all. An ideological power struggle protecting corrupt self-interested behaviours should not define how you will act, interact and react to your fellow citizens. Individuals must find their own way to adapt to the new government in the United States.  Along the way, choosing to be your good self every day is a healthy option.