Moving on: we shall overcomb

November 16, 2016


Feeling more hopeful today. I was reading my chapter for psychology group on Thurs night and I came across this:

As Freud first noted, patients tend unreflectively to believe that experience is explained by events and circumstance and are oblivious to the role played by the unconscious in how events are being processed. Analysts, especially those who lend themselves to sustained immersion in their patients’ experience, also tend to become similarly trapped in its content. Such entrapment blinds the analyst to the shifting of affect states and subjective realities that is occurring beyond the focus of their eyes. (Brandchaft, p.132)

Why is that hopeful? Because it says that while the content remains the same, the affect is different. Trump is still Trump but the emotions that we have about him and what he means for America are changing.

  • Trump was anti-Establishment but now he is becoming the Establishment.
  • Trump was angry opposition. Now he is the leader-elect of the government and he will need to be more considered and less impulsive.

Many Americans (and non-Americans) believed that Trump couldn’t really win. That he was un-electable. Certainly unfit to be President. Now we know that he is electable. We also under-estimated the resistance that people have to a strong woman leader.

There was a lovely quote in an article (perhaps the Washington Post or the Observer) that said “we sent you a lifeboat but you complained that it was a pink lifeboat. You wanted a blue lifeboat”. Clinton was just unpalatable to so many people, even though she was way more qualified to do the job, way more moderate and considered in everything she does. Yes, she stuffed up with her email server and she made other mistakes in her 30 years of public service, but those pale against what Trump has done, and said.

Trump’s words against ethnic minorities, against foreigners, against women, against the disabled etc. will take years to dissipate. I suppose the Trump supporters will say that Hillary’s words were also hurtful, but I can’t think of a single instance in which Hillary’s words have inflamed people to go and hurt others, or destroy property. Hillary was unpalatable because she was the ultimate Washington insider, she was a strong woman, and the change she wanted wasn’t the change that half of America wanted.

But time moves on. People move on. Our emotions move on. I’m feeling more hopeful today. If it’s 4 years or 8 years, the Trump presidency will end. Americans will learn major lessons from this. One of them will be that for the Democrats to re-take the White House, they need to focus on the “blue wall” and forget about trying to turn red states blue. Texas go blue in my lifetime? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Also, I’ve noticed a shift in how people view Trump. The victorious Trump is quieter, he still seems slightly in shock that he actually won. And while he is still Trump (he can’t change that) the hopeful part of me thinks that he can’t do that much damage, surely?

Also, there’s solidarity in opposition. Just being moderate, open-minded, interested in preserving the planet seem like acts of protest. Suddenly it seems that the most minor of details, like listening to someone like Natalie Merchant (I recommend The End as a beautifully lyrical, haunting song) is an act of hope. We shall overcomb indeed!

Postscript: Excellent article from Psych Central on dealing with the post-election blues can be found here


Learning from The Donald

September 21, 2016

Fascinating article on the upcoming Clinton vs Trump debate at The Atlantic (


I was feeling quite anxious about the upcoming US presidential election but on reading this I feel a  bit more reassured. Trump does worry me, but if you look more closely at his body language and his statements there’s a pattern there – of domination, bullying etc. He is powerful because his message (both verbally and physically) is often very simple. James Fallows shows in this article how Hillary can win the debates (and by extension the election).

More broadly it also got me thinking about how I relate to bullies. How I am intimidated by them, how they get under my skin, how I get rattled and irritated. But I also started thinking about how I relate to dominance in general – whether it be a dominant male boss or a controlling parent! And when my partner is dominant and controlling, do I sometimes feel intimidated and annoyed as well? What about using our own dominance, and learning from the bullies (without being insensitive though)?

What I also found interesting was seeing the narrow band that dominant women have to operate in . It’s easy for Hillary to fall into the trap of being too shrill or harsh. She’s much better (and more effective) when she’s powerful AND relaxed. When she’s able to joke – and also deliver some put-down lines at the same time. Thanks James Fallows for a stimulating article. I’ll report back here after the debate on the 26th.