Sep 05

Manifesto Against Trumpism For Therapists

A manifesto against Trumpism is now available for therapists. Many of us already are seeing its adverse mental health effects, broadly known as Trump Anxiety and political anxiety.

When I recently heard about  Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism I easily opted to sign it. Others, though, may have some doubts, so the creator of the manifesto, family therapist and psychology professor (University of Minnesota) Bill Doherty, has posted a FAQ For Therapists on the related website. A sampling of quotes:

We have to be concerned with public mental health and the social conditions that promote human flourishing or dysfunction, which means public involvement–a citizen politics…

There is collective power when members of a healing profession speak out together in their role as professionals. Society entrusts us with special responsibility in the arena of mental health and relationships. When we see public threats, we have a responsibility to speak up collectively and take action–and not be constrained by the inevitable opposition.

…(W)hy not also write about the risks of a Hillary Clinton presidency? For the same reason I did not feel compelled to write a manifesto about what Mitt Romney and John McCain stood for, even though I supported Obama. They represented political philosophies that have a legitimate place in the spectrum of public thought in a democracy. George Wallace did not. Donald Trump does not.

In an interview with public radio‘s Bob Garfield, Doherty explained how this manifesto against Trumpism came about in the first place: “…I visited a concentration camp. I toured Freud’s house and saw videos of him fleeing Nazi Europe. And I began to look into this and realized that mental health professionals stayed silent during a very dramatic time in the history of the Western world. I saw the rise of Donald Trump and what he represents as on that continuum, a movement that undermines the public good, public mental health and our democracy. So I felt that this time, this time, mental health professionals should not just stay in our offices and act as if the world is not threatening our clients.”

Trumpism is defined in the manifesto, by the way, as “a set of ideas about public life and a set of public practices characterized by such actions as ‘scapegoating and banishing groups of people who are seen as threats…’;’ degrading, ridiculing, and demeaning rivals and critics’; ‘fostering a cult of the Strong Man’; an ongoing lack of truth; subordination of women; nationalistic tendencies; and the inciting of violence.

The various effects of Trumpism, the manifesto states, include but are not limited to fear and alienation, “exaggerated masculinity as a cultural ideal,” “coarsening of public life by personal attacks on those who disagree,” and “erosion of the American democratic tradition.”

It’s important to note that therapists supporting the manifesto are not stating that we are against those who choose Trump as their candidate: “We understand the draw of Trumpism and we acknowledge that some of our fellow citizens, and some of our clients, may vote for Donald Trump not because they embrace all aspects of Trumpism but because they are frustrated with their circumstances and fed up with the current political system. We are against Trumpism and its architects, not against those who are inclined to give it a chance to change the direction of the country.”

On the website are also specific suggestions regarding other possible constructive actions.