The “terrible two’s” are the bane of many parents. Toddlers at that age are beginning to learn the power of “no” and can frustrate mommy and daddy to no end! But, parents intuitively know that with patient setting of limits and reinforcement for “good” behavior this internal conflict will be resolved, and the child will go on to learn the value of handling his internal conflicts and rages, dealing with them appropriately while learning to function in a social setting where other people’s wishes and needs receive consideration.
In my clinical practice, I did face circumstances where parents did not know how to set these limits and/or had a child whose neurological wiring was not amenable to learning these boundaries. But there were occasions where parents made no effort to set limits to their two-year old, and in fact began to reward him for his outrageous behavior in the hope that he could be “bought off.” By the time one kid in-particular reached mid-teens and was referred to me for counseling, he had learned that outrageous behavior and defiance of rules was the best way to get attention and had become the cornerstone of his identity. In the case of one young man, he had to be placed in a residential treatment facility and not long thereafter found himself mired in the juvenile justice system. Twenty years later, it would be amazing if I should learn that he has not been in prison for at least a stint.
This young lad had been taught that the best way to get validation (i.e. “love”) was to act out, to push limits to the point that he could not be ignored. “Bad attention” was better than “no attention” at all and much better than accepting the mere crumbs of attention that fell from the table as a result of merely taking an ordinary role in the social structure of family and school. A kid of this stripe makes me think of the Jim Carrey character in the movie, “The Mask” who announced with daring and bravado after still another display of craziness, leering at the camera with menacing face and grin, “Somebody stop meee!”
Donald J. Trump has been crying out from early childhood, “Somebody stop me.” But sheer will power, augmented by tremendous wealth, taught him that he could roll over anybody that stood in his way, that, yes, even in the Presidential campaign he could announce, “I could stand in the streets of Manhattan and shoot somebody and my poll numbers would not go down.” He is now a year and half into his term of office and his supporters are galvanized behind him, the Republican led Congress is giving him total allegiance, and evangelical Christians are standing firm behind him, avowing that God has chosen him for this occasion. The checks-and-balances system that has been the backbone of our government has met its match, and those who could exercise these “checks-and-balances” are demonstrating abject cowardice before this mad man.
Trump is a delusional man and he has found millions of Americans and the Republican Party who are “drinking the kool-aid” and becoming intoxicated with the delusion. Delusion is much easier than reality as the latter requires dealing with those “naughty people” who dare to look at things differently than we do. It is much easier to pledge allegiance to a political Jim Jones and, metaphorically speaking, trek down to Jonestown, Guyana where barrels of that sweet nectar, “Certainty” will be waiting.
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