Photo by Jose Moreno on Unsplash

Watchet, Somerset, UK, 15th April 2020 23:18

Yesterday, Donald Trump decided to suspend US funding for the World Health Organisation. Another absolutely outrageous act from the orange blip. Sadly, we have become accustomed to this kind of behaviour and we are no longer shocked by it. I will attempt to explain Trump’s behaviour using TA.

Transactional Analysis or TA, is a theory of personality, including theories of child development and psychopathology, all of which provide the basis for a theory of communication which may be applied to individuals and systems such as groups and organisations.

TA was first developed by Canadian psychiatrist Eric Berne. He theorised that everybody has the capacity to think, and therefore take responsibility for their actions. he claimed that people decide their own destiny and therefore, these decisions can be changed, whether cognitive, conscious, unconscious.

One of his best known contributions is the idea of Ego States. He defined these as “coherent systems of thought and feeling manifested by corresponding patterns of behaviour”. He identified three Ego States: Parent, Adult and Child.

The Parent Ego State comprises thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behavioural patterns learned from parents and other parental figures.

Its divided into two parts: Nurturing Parent and Critical Parent.

The Child Ego State is comprised of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behavioural patterns based on child-like emotions.

It’s also divided into two parts: the Free Child and the Adapted Child.

Lastly, the Adult Ego State which is the part of personality that processes data accurately, that seeks, hears and thinks and comes up with solutions to problems based on facts, not on pre-judged thoughts or child-like emotions. It evaluates parental and child programming and decides what is right and what needs to be changed. It’s balanced and objective.

It is clear that Donald Trump functions mostly from a Child Ego State. Trump behaves with absolute disrespect for any rules or boundaries. He cannot tolerate criticism or frustration, and he constantly requires adoration from others. He throws his toys out of the pram when things don’t go his way. The problem is that the toys at his disposal are the financial and military might of the most powerful nation on Earth.

I don’t know much about Trump’s childhood and upbringing. I could never stomach a whole biography about him. One thing is clear: he didn’t learn about boundaries, responsibility and empathy as a child.

How a clearly immature man ended up in such a position of power and responsibility still puzzles me, and I am sure that a thousand books will be written on this topic.

What I am interested in is how do we respond to him. Do we chastise him and criticise him, thus feeding his sense of righteous rage? Do we laugh at him, like Obama did, further pushing him into his corner? Do we treat him with kindness and compassion? Would that disarm him?

I don’t think that I have the answers but I know that, if we step into the ring of his game, we become part of it. Trump plays the role of victim very well, as he is doing that with the WHO. A victim needs both a persecutor and a rescuer and both become complicit to his behaviour.

The best thing to do is to remain congruent, assertive, compassionate and firm but fair. It is by modelling a different way of being to his that we rise above him. When I look at the countries which are managing this crisis better, I notice that their leaders are like that. Women like Jacinda Ardern who is showing what true leadership can be like.

Let’s hope that, ultimately, the adults in the room prevail.

Good night all

OneLove OneHeart

Tonight’s choice of music is by Devendra Banhart: Feel Just Like A Child

World-wide confirmed cases: 2,047,731

World-wide deaths: 133,572

World-wide recovered: 510,486

UK confirmed cases: 99,459

UK deaths: 12,894

UK recovered: 625


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