Bad King Donald

Viewing the Trump phenomenon through an archetypal lens


How could a bigoted, bloviating, politically clueless real estate mogul/TV star attain
traction as a “serious” candidate for president
of the United States?

My inquiring mind had to know about Trump’s businesses, con artistry, showmanship and mental state. I peered into national obsessions with reality TV, winners and losers, lust for fame and fortune. I cringed at a normalizing of violence in media, at institutionalized racism and misogyny, and meditated: how do humans react to fear and loss, try to escape suffering or strive to achieve wisdom through it?

I dove deep into archetypal shadow waters, fishing for the Donald. I reread the groundbreaking book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Doug Gillette and Dennis Moore. Aha! Trump strongly identifies with the “king” archetype, albeit in its “shadow, bipolar dysfunction.”

Think of a pyramid. At the top is a mature, ideally self-realized king. He carries with him a divine sense of entitlement and connection to the powers that be, but his transpersonal sense of duty to the well-being of others bestows generosity, stewardship and fatherly blessing toward all. He brings order, fertility, security and opportunity. He’s a visionary leader and role model to whom love and fealty are pledged.

At the base of the pyramid sit two complementary opposite shadow kings astride a cosmic teeter-totter. On the active, aggressive seat is a seriously narcissistic tyrant king. Overidentified with superpowers and rights to dictate, he denies vulnerable feelings or “inferior” traits, projecting them onto hated others. But his loud, alpha male, chest-pounding, sexist superiority belies a hidden inferiority complex. Watch out: his royal inner child will throw a tantrum if immediate gratification is denied.

The tyrant has a passive, complementary opposite—a sniveling, cowardly, potentially paranoid weakling king. He’s the consummate victim of imagined conspiracies. If cornered or provoked, he may run. Other times, the teeter totters, triggering the revengeful tyrant. No army or wall will be “yuge” enough to save him from himself. Only cracking open his heart can save him.

Let’s nourish and support a genuinely visionary, equitable leadership within and without. Long live Queen Hillary?

Marcia Singer is a healing artist from Santa Rosa.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write



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