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When the absurd seems normal

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

Humans tend to be resilient. However, dealing with the unpredictable can take a toll on the psyche. A recent report from the CBC tells of an interesting phenomenon which is occurring in the United States. It seems that mental health therapists are treating patients for a condition that has come to be known as Trump Anxiety Disorder.

Although not yet an official diagnosis, therapists are seeing increasing numbers of people who are expressing very real concerns about the volatility of the U.S. President. Clients are asking the question, “Is he going to blow us all up?” First there were the threats to North Korea and more recently there were threats to Iran. Trumps words to Iranian President Rouhani indicated that Iran would “suffer the consequences the like of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”

Therapist Elisabeth LaMotte indicates, “Whether we like it or not...we look to the president of the United States as a psychological parent.” She has noted that her patients' anxieties “resemble those of patients raised by a parent with a personality disorder – someone who would display traits like 'grandiosity, excessive attention-seeking and severe lack of empathy.'”

There is no question that the sociopolitical climate in the United States is very uncertain. Unfortunately, that uncertainty extends to other countries. Canada cannot count on being seen as a friend by the leader of the country to the south. There is the financial uncertainty created by Trump's Tariff War. The President's lack of concern for the environment will likely impact on our air quality and affect the oceans we share. If the United States is drawn into war because of Trump's threats we may well become involved in the conflict.

There are other dangers that can arise from the Trump presidency. Fascism is on the rise. A little over a year ago Donald Trump equated those who were protesting for human rights with those who wanted to take away those rights. White supremacist's were chanting hate messages in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of that group drove a car into a group of people, injured many, and killed a young woman. Trump “defended” the hate crime by saying both sides were responsible. Unfortunately when a leader of a free country acts in a biased, hateful manner towards people of colour, immigrants, and people of “other” faiths...it encourages those of the same ilk to come out of the woodwork. It normalizes discrimination.

Donald Trump's behaviour is also making “authoritarian” leadership seem acceptable. Recent news reports state that Doug Ford, the new Premier of Ontario, now indicates that his Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation to cut the number of councilor seats in Toronto to 25 from 47. With no prior notice or discussion, the announcement was made the day nominations for those seats were to close. There will certainly be chaos around that election, and there will be chaos after the election. Cutting representation nearly in half likely will not result in effectiveness.

It will be interesting to sit back and observe. Will there be more “dictator-like” politicians appearing on the scene...making decisions, ignoring good advice...and leaving the population in a state of anxiety? As for me...I have a real appreciation for steady, common sense behaviour.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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