Post-Trump Stress Disorder – A New Form of Suffering

trump2Within ten days after the 2016 election, a new phrase could be found in millions of websites: “Post-Trump Stress Disorder” (PTSD). The Urban Dictionary defines it as “a feeling associated with dread, night terrors, and flashbacks from the 2016 presidential election results.” An article in Psychology Today already describes several post-election victims. Slate.com called it “Trump Anxiety.”

Dr. Wendy Walsh told Inside Edition she saw: “…physical symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping. Others concurred reported that many had visceral or deep emotional responses to the results of the election.

Trump’s policies, bullying personality, and me-centered personal values have given millions of American dark dismay, if not clinical depression, in the wake of the election. But, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Post-Trump Stress Disorder does not have to be permanent.

Several of the largest reasons for Post-Trump Stress Disorder are:

  • Promised massive deportation to their home nation of most undocumented workers with their families including millions of children.
  • A plan to end entry of Muslim immigrants including refugees into the United States until a new, much tougher vetting process has been designed.
  • Stated plan to defund Planned Parenthood and all funding for women’s health services delivered by agencies that also provide abortion support services. Selection of Supreme Court Justices will be made with the explicit objective to repeal Roe v. Wade, which defines women’s rights to abortions.
  • Discussion encouraging a variety of nations, including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to develop their own nuclear weapons. Details of Trump’s comments can be found at org. In addition, Mr. Trump has suggested that NATO needs re-consideration.

A prominent definition of ‘civil society’ is the community within a community where churches, charities, friends and neighbors are there for one another. Donald Trump never mentions civil society. He may not know or care about the meaning of the term.

As noted by Peter Beinart in the Atlantic, Trump’s speeches never mention “morality” or “responsibility” or “community.” The only family he talks about is his own. He never offers an example of a community banding together to solve problems. He never offers an example of an individual taking moral responsibility for his neighbors.

The 2016 election in the United States parallels the 2004 election when the second George Bush president won a second term. Twelve years ago, after the election results came in, those voting Democratic felt dismay, lost and worried about the future of the American society. Ironically, in the aftermath of the Trump election, 2004 seems like a sneeze compared to the current epidemic of cultural pneumonia.

During the campaign Trump often sulked about unfair comments about him in the public sphere including social media. This childish response to freedom of expression continues after the election. President-elect Trump continues his habit of obsessive-compulsive Tweeting in the middle of the night and making whining complaints about minor things like parodies of Trump by the comedy TV show Saturday Night Live. This is only one of his tirades against others’ freedom of speech.

The media and most right of center voters treat these actions of Trump against media freedom as minor foibles. But imagine another catastrophic event like the 9/11 attack. Do you think that Trump would act to ensure democratic freedoms or do you think he will censor news sources? Can you not imagine that President Trump might well put all American Muslims behind barbed wire like President Roosevelt did to the American Japanese in 1941?

Political pundits and the American media continue to explain the outcome of the election by attributing it to financial hardship of the American middle class. Another explanation offered is public mistrust of the politically powerful. Relatively little is said about the white nationalist forces behind the election results. One exception is an article in the NY Times called ‘White Nationalism,’ Explained.

In that article by Amanda Taub, she defines ‘white nationalism’ as “the belief that national identity should be built around white ethnicity” and that they should maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s cultural life. While nationalism has often been a presumption of American life, now it has become more of a political goal and ideology.

Record numbers of white voters appear to have turned out because they felt threatened by nonwhite communities moving toward a demographic majority on the one hand and on the other hand because they see the rising nonwhite culture as a threat to their traditional values and their view of what an American way of life should be.

Supporting this is the finding from exit polls that 81% of white evangelical voters voted this election for Donald Trump. This is phenomenal given that Trump bragged about breaking at least half of the Ten Commandments. He also regularly breaks most of Christ’s teaching in the Beatitudes. The only plausible explanation for the white evangelicals devotion to Trump is the importance to them of maintaining the traditional values of conservative, white Americans, especially their anti-abortion agenda.

A very different explanation of the election outcome can be found in the book Dark Money by Jane Mayer. She presents details of the strategic goals and actions taken by several ultra-conservative billionaires. They seek nothing short of a complete takeover of the political system including all three branches of the federal government and all sources of power in the 50 State governments.

Finally, in the elections of 2010 and 2016, “Dark Money” has hijacked American democracy after a 30-year spending spree by Charles and David Koch and a few other antigovernment libertarians.  Not only did they give hundreds of millions of dollars to select candidates running for any powerful political office, but they financed and organized a network of think tanks, academic programs and news media outlets. Increasingly political scholars agree that the system resulting from this ‘hostile takeover’ is a threat to the original concept of democracy. If the take-over movement were only a push for free-market orthodoxy, it could be tolerated, but the open hatred of any regulation, federal, state or local makes this analogous to bullying mentality.

In the week after the election, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported donations jumped 500 percent. Taking personal action can be a healing response to the election trauma. Within 10 days of the election, a new website called RageDonate.com solicits donations. These funds will go to advocacy by nonprofits defending and advancing the rights of women, Muslim Americans, protectors of a free press, immigrants and people of color.

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