The Trump Effect on Mental Well-being

Posted on November 4, 2016

What is Donald Trump doing to Americans' mental health? It came up in the debate Sunday night, when Hillary Clinton pointed to a "Trump effect," an uptick in bullying and distress that teachers are noticing in classrooms as their students are exposed to a candidate who regularly attacks his opponents in bombastic, even threatening terms.

This all might be another political attack, just stacked up on top of the familiar charges that Trump is a danger to national security, an impulsive and erratic personality, and indifferent to the Constitution. But thousands of therapists are worried that it’s something more—and they’ve been saying so for months.

Over the summer, some 3,000 therapists signed a self-described manifesto declaring Trump’s proclivity for scapegoating, intolerance and blatant sexism a “threat to the well-being of the people we care for” and urging others in the profession to speak out against him. Written and circulated online by University of Minnesota psychologist William J. Doherty, the manifesto enumerated a variety of effects therapists report seeing in their patients: that Trump’s combative and chaotic campaign has stoked feelings of anxiety, fear, shame and helplessness, especially in women, gay people, minority groups and nonwhite immigrants, who feel not just alienated but personally targeted by the candidate’s message.

To some, the therapists’ campaign might sound a little touchy-feely, a worried cry from a group whose job is to be sensitive. But their effort is also an attempt to understand something bigger about what's happening to the country. There’s good reason to believe that demagogic, authoritarian leadership has a profound effect on citizens’ mental health—yet we know very little about what that effect is, Doherty says, because such repressive regimes tend to punish those who would dare to publicize findings of psychological damage. Doherty sees this moment in American politics as an important test case.

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Category(s):Bullying

Source material from Politico


Mental Health News