In This Election, 2020, Will PTSD Work In Favor of Biden Instead Of Trump? DMT.NEWS - DMT NEWS

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In This Election, 2020, Will PTSD Work In Favor of Biden Instead Of Trump? DMT.NEWS

Article by WN.Com Correspondent Dallas Darling

Following the surprise result of the 2016 American presidential election, several psychologists noticed a peculiar trend. The data suggested that states which never recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, but instead suffered from mass unemployment, deep cuts to social and health care, and economic upheaval, unexpectedly voted for Donald Trump. Especially counties with a sudden spike in suicide and the mortality rate of young and middle-aged men, largely connected to an increasing reliance on cheap and dangerous opioids, alcohol, and narcotics.

Populists, Demagogues, and PTSD

Psychologists found that the effects of public-spending cuts (or “austerity’) had triggered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental and emotional disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, like sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person’s life such as loss of status, economic dislocation, or health inequality-not being able to afford treatment for chronic pain. The trauma caused by these events moreover can lead to suicide or self-harm, or make people go in search of “explanations” for their feelings.

People who are suffering, emotionally and physically, also will go in search of “recognition” for their feelings. One of the greatest political assets of populist leaders (especially demagogues) spanning both left and right, has been their ability to visit economically depressed regions to harness the pain and anger many people feel. Led by unlikely figures, they perform a powerful function, when they give voice to pain that is otherwise muted.

This is exactly what Donald Trump did. He took the chronic pain and disempowerment of millions and turned it into hatred.

PTSD Made Worse by COVID-19

We are now living through another period of collective trauma, one that is much more severe than 2016. This trauma is not only compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2.5 million cases and 125,000 deaths, and millions of unemployed workers, but a president that is incapable of addressing-let alone healing-a divided nation that is experiencing racial trauma in the wake of massive protests. It includes a leader that can seem to only deliver disinformation and violent rhetoric, utterly absent from any clear, consistent language that the American people can trust.

Making matters worse is the number of deaths by COVID-19 that do not even begin to reflect the hidden deaths which have occurred in the shadows of the disease (or indirectly). Kaiser Health News just estimated that 75,000 people may have already died from suicide, overdose, or alcohol abuse. Triggered by uncertainty, isolations, unemployment, declining health, or the death of a significant other, some counties across the nation have reported a whopping 400 percent increase in the number of people overdosing and inflicting self-harm.

Sabotaging November 2020, and the Nation

CIA Profiler Jerrold M. Post, co-author of “Dangerous Charisma: The Political Psychology of Donald Trump and His Followers,” warns that America’s PTSD will probably get worse before it gets better.

“The president’s technique-refined over half a century in public life-is relentless and unforgiving: Never admit any error, constantly repeat falsehoods, show no empathy, and have no shame about your tactics.”

Post also describes a leader who knows how to only attack, dehumanize, and destroy, always engaging in hyperbole and relying on exaggerated claims.

That the president’s lies will continue to end in failure, and then he will lie some more to cover up those failures, will only add to America’s collective trauma. This is the exact opposite of treating those with PTSD and chronic pain. In fact, without proper treatment, something worse occurs: a total loss of control. This also is a political and traumatic syndrome, where disenfranchised groups can be manipulated into sabotaging their own lives and future, and that of the nation’s.

Closing the Empathy Gap

Not surprisingly, Joe Biden, the Democratic presumptive nominee, appears to be the opposite of President Trump. After almost four years of chaos, fear, dishonesty, divisiveness, and exhaustion, the former vice president seems more calm, steady, and rational. He also displays the one characteristic needed to treat PTSD: empathy. In “Joe Biden and the Empathy Gap,” Greg Sargent spells this out as he describes Biden tearing into Trump over his plans to destroy the Affordable Care Act, an act of unfathomable cruelty since 23 million Americans would lose their healthcare.

Biden also ripped Trump’s “whining and self-pity” about criticism he’s endured, and then talks about the “emotional hardships countless Americans are enduring due to the constraints of social distancing.”

Biden is trying to “strike a balance, emphasizing the most effective ways to keep families safe and healthy while also letting people know on a human level that he personally understands how difficult some of those behaviors and strategies can be.” Contrast that with Trump who never wears a mask in public and disregards social distancing at his rallies.

2020 Is Not 2016

In this election, 2020, psychologists are noticing another interesting trend: that harnessing anger and hatred and downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic is not working. Indeed, new research and polling data suggest that people like Trump, that cause chaos, divisiveness, or want to destroy others, and that disregard rules about wearing masks and social distancing in public while belittling those which do, are associated with racism and anti-social traits and are moreover viewed as ignoring preventative measures meant to halt the spread of COVID-19.

What all of this means is that 2020 may be the “Year of Empathy and Clarity of Thought and Communication.” To be sure, research shows that the anti-social traits of meanness, retaliation, and disinhibition regarding both public politics and health are going to be soundly rejected, even soundly defeated come the general election in November. That 2016 may have been the year for a minority of people with particularly personality styles (on the narcissism and anti-social and psychopathy spectrum), but not this election cycle.

Given America’s PTSD and collective traumas, such a scenario would be welcomed.

Dallas Darling (

(Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas’ writings at and

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