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The extent to which he denigrates women and the anger and even hatred he projects onto them reflects, in equal measure, his own self-hatred of his dependency, weakness, and passivity that he associates with the feminine in him.
Trump’s hatred of women and his rejection of the feminine are confirmed by his behavior on a daily basis. Confronted with a black woman opponent, Kamala Harris, his self-loathing is expressed through his projection of his rejected feminine side and his shadow complex. A psychological perspective on this phenomena is informed by Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Not Enough which details the early childhood wounding that led to Trump’s dysfunction behavior. For a full analysis of Trump’s pathology read Dr. Brandy Lee’s, a forensic psychiatrist, book The Dangerous Case of Donald. There is also a new film #Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump.
The psychologist Carl Jung proposed that males and females have contrasexual archetypal traits. The male has a feminine side known as the anima and the masculine side of the female is known as the animus. These archetypes are idealized images. In young people these archetypes remain undeveloped and are mainly expressed through projection onto others. For example, a young man who is attracted to a woman will project his ideal feminine, the anima, onto her. Initially she will try to match that projection through her behavior. This requires considerable energy. No matter what she does, she will never live up the man’s ideal image. As the woman reveals more of her real self, the projection wanes and the real relationship can begin. The same phenomenon occurs for women through the projection of the animus onto male suitors.
Jung proposed that as we grow older, we integrate these contrasexual images. The man becomes more feminine and the female more masculine. This is known as individualization, is a lifelong process. We may ultimately integrate all aspects of the self and become whole. The more integrated we become the less likely we are to project these archetypal images onto others. However, for many males this integration never talks place. There are various reasons including the influence of sociocultural factors and family of origins.
The complex relationship between psychological development and socialization of men that begins at birth is captured eloquently by Teresa Bernardez. She suggests that because of socialization there is a cultural injunction against appearing to be like a female or exhibiting characteristics associated with being feminine. In our culture, the feminine is stereotyped as weak, helpless, and less competent than the male. Affect, empathy and other feminine characteristics are belittled and rejected as unmanly. A counter-identification process can take place. Men divorce themselves from traits that are seen as female-like or even those associated with the mother. Bernardez argues this negative view of women or the feminine causes an internal struggle within the male to control those unwanted feminine aspects of self by projecting them outward onto women.
Bernardez summarizes, “The male thus controls the female aspects of himself that he fears and devalues. The domination of women is encouraged by the culture, but its strength comes from the need of males to control and dominate the female-self in themselves.”
From this perspective, when a man encounters a strong women, a woman in power or a woman in a leadership position, he feels out-of-control. He may even fear that the woman controls him and forces upon him the very feminine characteristics he eschews – dependency, submissiveness and compliance.
As Mary Trump reports in her book, Donald was abandoned by his mother and ignored by his father. His early socialization of women was very negative. His mother was sickly and not involved in any parenting role. His father was disinterested in him and preferred work. His father ruled his house “under a dark, oppressive cloud of psychological and emotional abuse.”
Both of his parents were haunted by their own pathology and had little interest or ability to properly parent Donald. He developed a very negative view of women through his relationship with his mother. This may have coincided with his own childhood feelings, of abandonment, helplessness and being out-of-control.
To control those negative injunctions against the feminine in himself Donald projects that loathing onto women around him, particularly strong woman. His relationship with the feminine in his outer world mirrors his own internal relationship with the feminine in him. The extent to which he denigrates women and the anger and even hatred he projects onto them reflects, in equal measure, his own self-hatred of his dependency, weakness, and passivity that he associates with the feminine in him.
Donald’s favorite sexist invective toward women is ‘nasty.’ He has used the word to describe both men and women. When referring to Kamala Harris it is often meant to demean and dismiss her as a woman and as a serious political candidate. He mispronounces her name. He calls her a monster. He called her the “meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful member of the United States Senate.” These words that be used to describe Trump’s own presidential behavior. The most telling comment that summarizes Trump’s view of women and by extension his own feminine side occurred in 1992 when he said of women, “You have to treat ’em like shit.”
Trump prefers his women to be complaint. This fits with some antiquated notion that women should be seen and not heard. Donald’s own preference for models underscores this notion.
Jung posited another domain of the psyche called the shadow. The shadow is a repository for all of the unwanted and rejected aspects of self. Those characteristics we deny, those which we wish to keep hidden from others, those that cause us shame and embarrassment and those that are outside our awareness. Ideally, during the individuation process those darker aspects of self would be uncovered and integrated with all other aspects of the psyche. This reclamation can lead to a fuller, more integrated and creative life. It harnesses psyche energy rather than diffuses it. Without this reclamation process we must manage the psychic energy that is required to repress the shadow material. Like the unwanted feminine traits, we project this shadow outward onto others. Because the shadow material remains hidden and in a dark place it is most easily projected onto people of color. Trump’s vile racism is again a measure of his own shadow and his efforts to keep it at bay.
This is another aspect to his projection on Kamala Harris that is a function of her being black. He labels her angry. This is a racist trope that is meant to conjure images of an ill-tempered and ill-mannered black who does not know her place. The opening salvo from the Trump camp, after Harris was nominated to be the vice-presidential candidate, was to label her a ‘hoe”.
His hatred of immigrants, Muslims, any person of color, Obama and now Kamala Harris are projection of his own shadow. His descriptions of these people are reflections of his own revulsion with aspects of himself. He even refers to mostly non-white countries as “shitholes.” Mary Trump has heard Donald using the N-word. Trump refers to Black Lives Matter protesters as thugs, looters lowlife and scrum. Many of these same characteristics have been used to describe Trump’s behavior.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, in his forthcoming book, Disloyal writes,
“I knew him better than even his family did because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”
This race for president is extremely negative as Trump feels endangered of losing his office and by extension control of himself. Kamala Harris, and other women are perfect screens onto which Trump will project all of the unwanted and rejected aspects of himself. He will project his feminine side which he associates with weakness, passivity, and helplessness and his own dark side full of shame, embarrassment, and not feeling good enough.
Bud McClure is professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is the author of Putting A New Spin on Groups: The Science of Chaos and the award-winning Divine Daisy: A Transpersonal Tale.
First published in Common Dreams. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.