This Political Season: Intolerance at the Gates
As a psychoanalyst both love and hate are in my purview, but I admit I’m not neutral on the question of which is better sustenance for living. There is a long tradition of applying psychoanalysis outside of the consulting room. Freud set a mind expanding precedent. He drew his inspiration from science, religion, history, mythology, society and the arts as well as from his practice, and he gave back to all these sources of knowledge and energy. Violence, hatred, sadism, bigotry: they fascinated Freud and still fascinate us. When growing unchecked in our midst, however, they may call us beyond our consulting rooms in defense of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Elvin Semrad, a beloved teacher of psychoanalysis at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in the 1960’s and 70’s famously said the goal of psychotherapy is to help people “acknowledge, bear and put in perspective” their struggles and their pain. In this respect the music of good poetry is often psychoanalytic and the feeling experience of a good analysis is often poetic.
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and
shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose votes.”
-- Donald Trump, rally. Sioux City Iowa, 1/23/16
Donald Trump retweets neo-Nazi sympathizer who
has said he lives in “Jewmerica.”
— New York Daily News, 1/22/16
-St. Louis: An ocean liner carrying Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany turned away by the U.S. Many on board died in concentration camps after returning to Europe.
-Third house of the Pig: In the Three Little Pigs, the house of bricks too strong for the big bad wolf to blow down.
-Borg: From the Star Trek TV series, an alien race of cyborgs functioning as drones in a hive mind. They force other species into the hive, warning them, “resistance is futile.”
-Lost your state: Ben Franklin, when asked on leaving Independence Hall at the close of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, “Well Doctor, what have we got---a republic or a monarchy?” replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
-MLK’s arc: Martin Luther King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”