Is Trumpism a cult? This question, among other issues, has preoccupied certain psychiatrists and mental health professionals since Donald Trump rose to political prominence in 2016. How could one even begin to approach the question? Ever since the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) asked American psychoanalysts to take Hitler's measure in the 1940s, there have been two approaches to psychological comment on public figures of concern. Though the two are often intertwined, a mental health professional’s emphasis tends to fall on one or the other. One tradition is represented by the psychologist and psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer, who emphasized individual personality , early life, and sexual development. The other tradition, represented by psychoanalyst Erik H. Erikson, explored the "fit" between culture and personality, trying especially to understand (and therefore potentially to weaken) the bond between a leader and his followers. Both traditions are alive and well. Psychiatrist Bandy Lee's bestselling edited volume The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump (2017) amply demonstrates the point. In this volume, a large group of mental health professionals express their concerns that Trump is dangerous and mentally ill. In the tradition of Langer, many contributors to the book focus on what they see as Trump's individual pathology. These… Read full this story
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