WHAT MIGHT PSYCHOANALYSIS CONTRIBUTE TO
AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY?
Michael Shulman, Ph.D., Faculty, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute
Adjunct Faculty, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Michigan
Saturday, January 15, 2022
2:00 – 4:00 PM
*2 CME and CE Credit Hours
** PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN PROGRAM DATE FROM ORIGINAL DATE PLANNED**
The tumultuous Trump presidency was extraordinary insofar as so many previously-held rules of presidential conduct and leadership were broken. Much has been said in the press, in the world of mental health professionals, and among educated persons, of the former president’s “narcissism”: a psychological concept owing its origin to psychoanalysis. But understanding this narcissism is only part of what psychoanalysis can contribute to an understanding of the Trump presidency. Specifically, psychoanalytic theory includes a theory that relates secondary process thinking – thought governed by conventions of logic and evidence-gathering – to primary process thinking – the kind of thought evident in dreams, in which wishfulness often rules and contradictions are permitted, going unnoticed, while mechanisms of condensation and displacement are used selectively to disguise and misrepresent meanings. Studying examples of the words and actions of the then-President and his aides and followers vividly illustrates the use of primary process thinking.
Freud also theorized narcissism for the first time in the history of psychology and psychiatry, but did more than elaborate a psychology of human self-interest when he delineated the dynamics of idealizing relationships between less and more powerful beings. Such a complex and rich conception of narcissism sheds light on dynamics and difficulties evident throughout Trump’s presidency. Multiple examples will be provided. Finally, Melanie Klein’s work on the paranoid-schizoid versus depressive positions in human psychology also aides in understanding the nature of Trump’s presidency, as well as helps to delineate anticipatable and potentially very destructive political and social dynamics in the U.S. moving forward.
About the presenter: A psychoanalyst in full-time private practice in Ann Arbor, Michael Shulman, Ph.D. is a faculty member of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and instructor in the University of Michigan Psychiatry Department. He supervises psychiatric residents in Ann Arbor, and has supervised doctoral interns of the University of Detroit-Mercy’s Clinical Psychology program for over 20 years. Past Program Chair of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society and past Co-Chair of the Committee on Psychoanalysis and Undergraduate Education of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Dr. Shulman is current Chair of the Study Group “How to Teach Freud” in this Association. Author of articles and reviews in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, and Professional Psychology: Theory and Practice, his current interests include narcissism and narcissists, critical theory, and the interface of psychoanalytic care with the social order and its failures.
Practice Gap/Need: Mental health clinicians often lack tools with which to understand pathological processes within societal, business and political life, beyond some highly limited, though commonly-held, conceptions, such as that of “narcissism” in patients and in leaders. Psychoanalytic theory provides tools with which to understand the troubling political and social effects of the tumultuous Trump presidency on both patients and clinicians.
Following the presentation, attendees will be able to:
1. Discuss three contributions that psychoanalysis has made to understanding the psychological dynamics of the Trump presidency.
2. Describe the effects of Trump’s form of leadership on individuals’ capacities to function within democratic political processes.
PHYSICIANS: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of American Psychoanalytic Association and Michigan Psychoanalytic Society. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ (1 credit equals 1 hour). Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters for this educational activity have relevant financial relationship(s)* to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.
*Financial relationships are relevant if the educational content an individual can control is related to the business lines or products of the ineligible company.
Updated July 2021
PSYCHOLOGISTS: The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
SOCIAL WORKERS:The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society is an approved provider with the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative.
*$15 per credit hour for non-MPS members
The views of the speakers do not necessarily represent the views of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society.
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