posted on Jul, 4 2015 @ 10:58 AM
As a systems thinker, I would like to share with you what I feel when I turn on the T.V in the morning and put it to CNN - my normal morning routine.
In doing so, I'm interested in knowing "whats going on" - I have an interest in the state of the world, something, I think, which comes naturally
to a person whose interest - and perhaps a part of their identity - becomes more and more tied up with the 'system', as they grow in their
understanding of how extrapersonal processes influence the dynamics of human thought formation.
Donald Trump. Alas, I can barely mention this cretans name without contradicting my deepest wish: not to call him a cretan. But I'll allow myself
this indulgence as I'm pretty sure that most people are just as turned off by Trumps self-aggrandizing machismo as I am. But, for me, as a
developmental psychologist, it reaches a particular depth because I see right through him. For Trump, as it for most people, how a person presents
himself has EVERYTHING to do with an implicit self-conscious knowing that accompanies all our experiencing: I MUST be strong, which also means, I must
not come off as weak looking.
Take these two poles as two sides of a force field which "shapes" the unconscious dynamics of how information we take in is processed and
understood. But also, we need to add a little bit of complexity. If people were as instinctively drawn to power and charisma as evolution seems to
have made us, why am I so absolutely repulsed by Donald Trumps grandiosity? For the simple reason that the emotions are trainable.
In terms of the brain, the inner, or subcortical aspects, are "implicit", which means they are activated unconsciously. This differs from the
frontal or cortical parts (cortical means "outer") which make things explicit for us. The implicit areas of our brain respond to the cues and
signals conveyed by the environment - the world about us, and as such, they represent parts of ourselves that are deeply felt to be 'who we are'.
The subcortical, in terms of affects and feelings, is the house of our emotional past. The amygdala - a deep brain sensor - picks up whats meaningful
from the world, good or bad, what it ultimately senses is "what do I need to do to protect myself?" A person coming from a household which
demonstrated self-awareness, inhibition of evil impulses, and conscientiousness, would have evolved a subcortical pathway that's responsive in a
moral way: what does what I'm seeing mean, morally? It's important to mention here that moral awareness for such a person is pleasurable. It does
not come and is not felt (most of the time) to be any sort of encumbrance. It generates good feelings when self & other are having good times, in
healthy ways. And likewise, its cortical areas are energized by self-aware musing when the world around it seems disturbed, unbalanced, and
dissociated. The negative feelings are logically associated with ideas, concepts and terms that make apparent what is wrong with the situation at
hand. Such a person is aroused - and WANTS TO BE AROUSED - because the perceived problem in another persons functioning represents, from a larger,
system-wide perspective, a destructive influence on the world. While this is an "intuition" for most people, consistent with what their past
experiences have invested with them, from the vantage point of developmental psychology, they are absolutely right-on! Anytime we act
narcissistically, from a law of "unconscious symmetry", other people are provoked into a similar organization.
What worries me and leaves me feeling somewhat sickened is the fact that 12% of republicans polled are attracted by Donald Trumps Shtick. Given what
I've mentioned earlier, this has everything to do with their personal history, from the very get-go, from the intrauterine environment to the early
environment to the subsequent environments of their development, lifes experiences has 'channeled' them, neurobiologically psychologically, into a
state of being that is hyper-attracted to the perception of power, and likewise, to the avoidance of negative feelings. This is perhaps the darkside
of democracy, or should I say, democracy in a capitalist economy that seems to systematically incite feelings of narcissism, and likewise (its tiring
noting this) the negative emotions they guard against.
It's imperative that people pay attention to the "neurobiological" part of my argument, as the brain is constantly changing. Even now, as you read
this, millions of neuromolecular events in your brain are occurring. Many of these events, depending on your degree of explicit focus, are
"probabilistic". This means that, given past experiences, the "trains" of motion mapped out by past experiences, are likewise mapped out in the
neurobiological 'wiring" of your mind. This, I hope, might add a degree of restraint on what is happening with people like Donald Trump and the
people who support him: they know not how stupid and unaware they are. Even more so, they are 'stuck' in this state, not merely in any abstracted
"dynamical system" sort of way, but as a matter of the "linkage" between their neurobiological hardwiring, and the environments they've developed
meaningful connections with.
Finally, whats destructive about narcissism, you might ask? If people are mutually vulnerable to the same influences, that would then mean that an act
of narcissism from me, would engender an act of narcissism in you. To state this more clearly: if i yell at you (which is very self-focused, in that I
am only attending to the feelings that I'm having, and not paying attention to the way my feelings will affect how you organize yourself) you will,
in all likelihood (minus a deep self-awareness) yell right back at me. Or, imagine you know Donald Trump and have experienced being spoken to by him.
You call him an "a$$hole", because, well, the way he speaks to you has the air of "I'm better than you"; he speaks with impatience, ingratitude,
and an assertiveness that tolerates little or no dissent. Trumps way of speaking says "I am better than you! deal with it". And if you don't, of if
you're one of those people who can't countenance being brought lower by another persons imperiousness, you will most definitely induce the type of
venom that comes naturally to narcissistic minds like Trumps: he will attack you simply because his enormous grandiosity has been challenged: his
amygdala will pick it up and his frontal lobes will show awareness of what he deems to be "impudence".
Now, from a systems perspective, from the perspective of social-systems and how people function, this type of behavior is absolutely deleterious.
Insomuch as narcissism engenders narcissism, whether of the grandiose, hyper focus on self, with ones look, appearance and ones ways of speaking about
others, or in actual malicious action that strives to "break" another person, imagine, if you can, what kind of world we would create. Of course,
this is me being cheeky, as we already live in such a world: a world of 'haves' and have not", a world where 'winners' literally believe that
they have some sort of "essence" that makes them winners, and not, as the systems analyst Dana Meadows pointed out long ago, as a simple system
effect: where you are, as Trumps privileged upbringing gives credence to, has everything to do with a) history b) opportunity c) luck.
All we really have is our awareness and our ability to learn from our mistakes. Were in this together.