Power Play

Everyone I talk to is saying they’re scared of Trump. Many of us ask, “Why would people vote for a guy who brags and wags his you-know-what in public and wants to build walls across countries?”

I wonder if Trump represents one of the Jungian principles called “the negative masculine.” This is a male archetype in our shadow. Could our collective longing for a protective father figure have taken this form?

In “Addiction to Perfection,” Marion Woodman writes, “Having grown up without a real relationship to her actual father, she had created a . . . world in which patriarchal values were idealized.”

But real power for a man or a woman has to do with caring about the common good, not putting nationalities down and building walls. Real strength at its most individuated is an integration of kindness and solid self; it is not mean-spirited or inflated. As Woodman says, “When a woman goes out into the professional world, in an effort to take responsibility for her own animus she often finds herself applying masculine standards of perfection to her entire life. She is exhausted.” Both sexes have bought into a false, competitive, power model.

As I was asking everyone why they thought Trump was so popular, the deepest conversation summed it up as fear. And when people are afraid—of losing their healthcare, their social security, their jobs and homes—they want a powerful, strong force to appear. How do we heal our own fear and become empowered instead of seeking Godzilla to save us?

In becoming whole human beings ourselves, we can develop the ability to say what we need. We can be strong and soft at the same time, disclosing our vulnerabilities while creating connection and interdependence.

In the meantime, the evolution of our species seems a ways away.

Katy Byrne is a psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist who lives in Sonoma.

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