Early Loss and Unconscious Splitting
On Friday, November 2, 2018, in a Situation Room discussion by a panel of experts, moderated by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, one of the panelists said in disbelief, “This is crazy! Trump could be exploiting the great state of the American economy to his own advantage. Instead, he is painting a caravan of poor immigrants from Central America as an invading army, sending thousands of troops to the border, and talking of nothing but those immigrants!” None of the panelists could explain why Trump preferred the self-destructive rhetoric of hatred, fear and division over the obvious use of his positive achievements.
Trump’s own explanation was that “We have the greatest economy in the history of our country, but sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy.” It was much more exciting for him to talk about the immigrants. On Monday, November 5, U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, pleaded with President Trump to focus on the economy, not on immigration, in the final hours before the mid-term elections, so as not to lose the House to the Democrats. Trump ignored him.
There is a deeper, darker, unconscious reason why Trump is talking about the “dangerous” poor immigrants from Central America and not about the great state of the U.S. economy.
Trump’s mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, was herself a poor immigrant. Despite his public statements that she was the best and smartest person he had ever known, Donald Trump carries a deep grudge, even hatred and rage, against his mother, ever since his early childhood. She was a cold, ungiving, narcissistic mother who could not truly love her little “Donny,” except as an extension or mirror image of herself.
Mary Anne named her daughter Maryanne, after herself. The mother stood by passively when his father Fred kicked her “Donny” out of his home to the military academy when he was thirteen. During Trump’s prolonged and ugly divorce from his first wife, Ivana, in the late 1980s, Mary Anne Trump asked Ivana Trump, “What kind of son have I created?”
Trump is known for his frequent references to his father Fred and the huge role he played in his life, but is often reluctant to talk about his mother. Despite describing her publicly as “a fantastic homemaker” with a “great sense of pageantry,” it is his father’s picture that sits in the Oval Office, not his mother’s.
Mary Anne Trump was always more distant from her family than her husband. A childhood friend of Trump recalled how the father, Fred Trump, was around and watched his son play,” but his mom ignored him. A friend of Trump’s older brother Fred Jr. who tragically died of alcohol addiction, said that they “rarely“ saw his mother.
When “Donny” Trump was two and as half years old, his mother Mary almost died from complications following the birth of his youngest brother, Robert. Severe hemorrhaging necessitated an emergency hysterectomy, which led to a serious abdominal infection, which led to more surgeries. “Four operations in two weeks,” Donald’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, told Trump’s biographer, Gwenda Blair. It was uncertain whether Mary Trump would survive. “My father came home and told me she wasn’t expected to live,” Maryanne said, “but I should go to school and he’d call me if anything changed. That’s right—go to school as usual!” (see https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/03/mary-macleod-trump-donald-trump-mother-biography-mom-immigrant-scotland-215779).
At that point “Donny” was a toddler. That age was too young for him to comprehend the event but not too young to unconsciously internalize the dread experience his near-loss of his mother. “Donny” clung to his mother for dear life, but she did not want to care for a demanding toddler when she herself had just gone through a traumatic near-death experience. The cold mother rejected her little son, but he could not live without her.
It was a pathological love-hate symbiosis. Donald Trump never succeeded in going through the separation-individuation phase of his early development. Dr. Mark Smaller, the past president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, said, “A 2½-year-old is going through a process of becoming more autonomous, a little bit more independent from the mother. If there is a disruption or a rupture in the connection, it would have had an impact on the sense of self, the sense of security, the sense of confidence.” (ibid.)
Trump’s narcissistic-borderline personality disorder, marked by black-and-white thinking, by his endless need to be loved and admired, and by extreme instability and unpredictability, his well-known “misogyny,” which is actually a volatile mix of sexual attraction, love, hate, and alternating idealization an denigration of women, his idealization of America as a great good mother, his denigration of “shithole countries,” his hatred of poor immigrants, can all be traced back to his pathological relationship with his mother. His unconscious rage at her is as great a his public praise of her. And that rage is unconsciously displaced to all poor immigrants.
This is the deeper reason for Trump’s self-destructive “craziness” in choosing to focus his nation’s attention on a caravan of poor brown Latin American immigrants rather than on the great state of the American economy. This was why his party lost its majority in the House of Representatives to the Democrats on November 6, and why Trump himself may eventually be impeached. Tragically, like Hitler, he is a victim of his borderline personality disorder, and his own worst enemy.