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OPINION: Analyzing ‘The Trump Phenomenon’ as Archetype


OPINION: Analyzing ‘The Trump Phenomenon’ as Archetype

By Marcia Singer, Santa Rosa

How can a bigoted, bloviating, politically clueless investment mogul /TV star attain traction as a ‘serious’ candidate for POTUS? Enquiring minds want to know: How do we fathom The Trump Phenomenon?

We’ve psychoanalyzed his appalling appeal, critiqued his corrupt business practices and con-artistry, his self-serving amorality, glitzy lifestyle and “reality show”manship. Peering into the shadow side of The Donald’s psyche, and into his brash sense of entitlement provides greater insight, about our collective American psyche, and the human ego as well.

First, consider the archetypal Shadow Self – the repository of what’s hidden, not yet been brought to light or manifested fully in our persona. The Shadow holds what’s unknown or disowned, denied or repressed in us. It’s the storehouse of unconscious fears about who we might be or become. Paradoxically, that includes both our potential worst and best selves. (Think Marianne Williamson, “It’s our light...that most frightens us.”)

Speaking recently with my journalist-activist sister, we recalled the precocious work of Dennis Moore and Doug Gillette regarding the male psyche. [King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine.] Especially illuminating is the King archetype – presented at his Best and Worst. He’ll enter life as the archetypical Divine Child, an adored babe to whom all blessings flow by birthright. Rightfully the center of attention, he expects all his needs to be met in a perfect, loving universe. He embodies hope for the future.

However, he’s immature, and even a divinely ordained royal child must grow up. If he becomes Self-Realized (the full-filled Ideal), he’ll have a transpersonal vision to Serve beyond self interest. He’ll create order from chaos, offer stability and centeredness, bring abundance and fertility to the land. He’ll be compassionate, a bountiful, protective leader, ruler, lord, master, steward and father figure. Standing for what is right, decent and just, this empowered King epitomizes generativity and responsibility. He’ll rule as an emissary of the Divine Creator-God in the flesh, loving and empowering his subjects. In return, they pledge their love, loyalty, fealty.

But woe be to the King who sins – i.e., ‘misses the mark’ of full maturation. He’s a shadowy, fearful figure, captive between two opposing –but complimentary poles. The ‘active’ pole persona over-identifies with being Supreme: he’s a Tyrant (petty or worse) – a self-absorbed, aggressive, power-grabbing narcissist. He’s given to mockery, braggadocio, chest-pounding competition, and has low tolerance for criticism of himself. He may have no real friends – “lonely at the top.” (Sound like anyone we know?)

At the shadowy passive pole opposite the Tyrant, is a cowardly Weakling King. Under-identified with being the Realized Divine Ruler, he is ineffective, impotent. He feels intimidated, pressured, vulnerable, scared, victimized.

These Shadow roles are not mutually exclusive, they’re interconnected! Beneath the Tyrant’s bluster and aggression is an anxious man, who must continuously demonstrate and prove his superiority, hiding an inferiority complex (especially from himself!) He projects his disowned Weakling potential, his fears of inadequacy onto others and despises them, pushing them away. Conversely, a Weakling King can’t access his strengths, talents, leadership and may become paranoid. If he’s hiding out, sweating bullets and feeling terrorized, he may suddenly flip an ugly, internal switch and turn terrorist, desperate to gain control and prove his superiority. But even a ‘yooge’ army can’t save a Shadow King: only awakening.

Conclusion? The Trump phenomenon exemplifies what happens when we royally miss the mark of true leadership. When mature cultural role models elude us, fear and anger run amok, and a Shadow King will reign –in the land, in the psyche. 

The American Dream is floundering for millions of us. At the same time we each harbor a deep, native sense that we should be ‘entitled’ to well being: to be safe, protected, free to pursue dreams, realize our Gifts – be provided sufficient means to do so. Our choice for POTUS reflects how we attempt to resolve this conflict, for better or worse.

So, will it be King Donald? Queen Hillary? Will the U.S.A. trust a female to be a more mature ‘king’?