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Discussion of Daniel Shaw's book on narcissism



Reading a bit of Daniel Shaw's work (his book), there seems to be confusion as to why exactly he would believe Trump must be understood as swaying a whole nation into becoming sadists. He is arguing that children come to agree with their unloved parents' (he can reference the existence of monstrous mothers -- on his facebook page, he insists on there being "many" of them for instance -- but through what portions of the book I was able to read, it has to be drawn out of him... not his preference) perception of them as bad when they don't fulfill their emotional requirements of them, that they develop inner persecutors and inner protectors that lord over their psyche, watching over their "sinning" in this direction, but doesn't conceive that this "badness" associated with attending to one's own needs, one's own growth, could eventually lead to them USING "leaders" like Trump to execute punishment against people understood as behaving counter to their own parents' requirements for children, that is, as behaving seemingly self-centeredly, selfishly, smugly, only because they exist in the realm of "badness" they themselves had been cowed away from much exploring. He refers to leaders like Trump forcing their will on a populace. If enough children are of the kind he alludes to, they already have inner persecutors forcing their wills on their own behaviour, and these drive them to see individual growth as a sinful, as a bad, thing. Trump, in pursuing his purpose of shaping society so that it ultimately feels guilt-free in persecuting and destroying whole groups of people who well represent what their early child selves conceived as parent-not-approved, seems more an executor of perpetrators already installed in people's psyches.


His theories, in my early reading of his work, strongly seem to suggest the problem rests in the people, not with (charismatic, hypnotizing... both terms he uses) leaders. This matters. For if it's a collective populace's overall childhoods that are the problem, there are a multiple million number of "Trumps" that could be called into servicing this, probably now, unaddressable problem, and we're wasting our time in trying to show him up... or more accurately, pursuing some end actually apart from the purported one of educating the American public. If this is the case, the only time our work in unmasking him will prove "effective" is if he fails to carry out a regressing populace's needs to destroy their split-off "bad selves." Time would seem better put into making sure that we ourselves are free of necessary illusions, to confront our own need to find sacrifices for our own dis-ease at societal growth, and so be sure to function through this period as strategically astute as possible.


He's written (on his Facebook page) that the problem is the billions of dollars put into demonizing liberals, as the reason liberals like Obama and Hillary Clinton accrue any sense of legitimately being seen as deeply flawed. I don't know why he doesn't connect that the reason liberals are hated isn't owing to billionaire rightwingers' media influence, or evil Putinists', or Trump's ostensibly inherent hypnotizing charisma, but for the sheer fact that, objectively, they're not people who can readily be cowed by angry parental representatives... that is, because they very ably, very noticeably, intrinsically represent their own "bad selves," whose destruction will surely bring an end to parental abandonment and perhaps the acquirement of their appreciation and love. Liberals are always for the children, consevatives are always for the persecuting parent. That's the dynamic even when "speaking for the children" has to come about in very modulated form.


He denies on his Facebook page that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were mostly adored by the press; given an easy ride. He refers to a Salon article which emphasizes just how negative the press was against Hillary (it was absolutely so in 2008 when she was running against Obama... reporters could barely look at her in the eye, but vastly less so against Sanders... though still some, yes). He points to the billions of dollars put forth to demonize them by the rightwing and Russia. Yet, as incomparably healthy as both Hillary Clinton and Obama are compared to Trump... compared to all Republicans, Hillary Clinton is justifiably becoming seen as psychically needing America over the last few decades to produce a class of victims whose pain would find no address... she wasn't tortured into labelling the women accusing her husband as scum of the earth; she may even have known he had sexually predated upon them when she tried to manipulate them into being politically docile, and thus served akin to Weinstein's assistants/enablers; she wasn't tortured into believing in being "tough on crime," but felt the ostensible righteousness of it. Legitimate criticism of her really should have emerged -- then -- from all of us, even as I still believe we should have voted for her. She represents that part of ourselves that participated in making these last few decades a period of significant growth of the professional class, but also one that depressed and stigmatized millions of the less fortunate. I've argued before that there was no other way -- that this doesn't show us up as evil, as someone like Chris Hedges would argue it does. But it's sane to recognize it. Societal growth equals people sinning... has been historically our greatest affliction. And Obama... good lord. I don't know if we've projected onto him, or if we've kind of just decided not to look at him and just consider him a shield at our side that hedges all self-accusers safely to the side, but here mostly certainly is someone we couldn't bare to denature and address in simple good faith. We have to examine that. It's different than even it was with the Kennedy's, because we felt ourselves reflected in him... something genuinely promising. With Obama, we don't identify with him. We efface him; make him and his family convenient equipage, accompanying external tools of the psyche... or so it strikes me.     

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Patrick McEvoy-Halston Daniel, I recently read your book on narcissism. The question that came to me is why if you accept that many of us develop internal persecutors who threaten us with intolerable abandonment if we do what our narcissistic parents didn't want us to do -- which is, ostensibly, attend primarily to our own needs, individuate, grow -- that you wouldn't automatically consider that the reason for the 1980s working class acceptance of the depletion of their unions/wages/security owed to a shared sense that just the past number of decades of sequential improvement in living standards, with their corresponding provisioning of supplies to "flesh out" one's freedom, post-war, meant they really had to seek out agents they unconsciously understood would call an end to the good times, and would "bow" to them, even if they weren't armed with menacing rhetorical manipulations and rather hadn't a dime of resources or an ounce of persuasive suavity/hypnotic appeal? 

The second thing that came to mind is that in your discussion of O'Neil's "Long day's journey into night," you discussed how learning about O'Neil had cruelly abandoned his children had you feeling a more complex appreciation/assessment of his work. (This seems relevant considering Salma Hayek's assessment of Weinstein: never-depleted accurate assessment of his bravery, along with full knowledge that he perhaps fuelled this permission by destroying the vulnerable.) I don't sense this on your Facebook page, however, in regards to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Would you accept that many of us feel exactly the same way towards them that you do now with O'Neill? That is, that they are true wonders, but also people who participated, weren't ignorant of, at least unconsciously, devastating many millions of people? This sounds like pooling them with Weinstein, and thus flushing them down the drain. But I mean it more as a means of showing that we don't have blind spots. Don't show in a larger reveal that we can't face up to the fact that we haven't gotten emotionally healthy enough to not need to see sacrificed innocents incur as society continues to stigmatize growth-discouraging people/bullies and normalizes the full participation of every human being in society, i.e. progresses. That we haven't gone beyond requiring that in order for own selves to prosper, we've still needed displaced "bad" vulnerable selves to suffer for it. That to deflect this knowledge from ourselves, we've focussed on rightwing billionaires, Russia, Trump, who are of course those staggeringly more malign, but still....  

Hillary Clinton is especially relevant to me, as notable Hillary supporters had argued that many men went Bernie because he enabled their being invisible to their hatred of women while loudly enacting upon it. Steinem said that the Bernie Bros were men who saw in Hillary their own scary mother, and sought out displaced revenge. One of your links on this page may have been to Salon writer Amanda Marcotte. She's mentioned this many times as well.. the true hatred of a significant number of feminist men for empowered women, being demonstrated in how they can unleash Hillary-hate under his banner and not suspect the source of it as anything suspect: I hate her only for being a neoliberal and a corporate stooge! I wondered while reading your discussion of Bill Clinton if your discussion of his hatred of his abusive step-dad was an advance over Hillary Clinton's own discussion of her husband's influences with Tina Brown, or served as super-ego-licensed because the "enabling mother," the preoedipal "momster," doesn't seem the most proper focus of why he ended up being a serial predator of women. 

Thank you for your book. I really enjoyed reading it, and especially appreciate your discussion of how trauma theorists are encountering Freudians. If trauma therapists are the ones who are really feeling their way into the pains of the exposed victimized right now, and Freudians more on the defensive, then the momentum is with the trauma therapists, and freudians will fold their influence within their work. That's my guess.



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