Letter from the CFS Board of Directors

In the past few days, we have been witness to events that have shaken us to the core as Americans. Our commitment to democratic values, to thoughtful resolution of conflict, and to the peaceful transfer of power has been challenged in ways and to a degree unimaginable until recently, by the violence of fellow Americans stoked by their enablers in the White House and in Congress. For four years now, we have been at the mercy of a deranged leader who has been willing to sacrifice the lives, health, safety and well being of human beings to further his own stranglehold on power and control. We join the ranks of others in the psychoanalytic world in standing up to register our strongest condemnation of these murderous and shameful acts.

Painfully, as students of human behavior, we have watched without surprise as this demagogic leader has stirred his followers and legitimized their primitive rage, fueling racism, anti-semitism, misogyny and hatred of the weak and infirm in the most sordid ways, epitomizing cruel and inhumane behavior. Many, including experts in mental health, have expressed their outrage and mounting concerns about the unbridled behavior of the president and his facilitators during the course of this administration, to no avail. How is it that, we, the American people, have allowed this to happen?

Psychoanalysts understand that human beings protect themselves from facing aspects of reality that cause overwhelming distress. The wish to believe in the inherent goodness and power of paternal leaders can be mesmerizing for followers who are challenged in their own sense of empowerment and efficacy and we can understand, although not condone, the impulse to subsume themselves to follow the leadership of a demagogue.

As psychoanalysts, we are emphatic in our conviction that understanding is the most important element in increasing self-awareness and improving how we live our lives and the world we live in. However, we are also humble enough to acknowledge when curiosity and understanding are not sufficient; when actions must be taken. We find ourselves in a time of national crisis, confronting massive attacks on basic freedoms that involve attempts to twist and poison minds as well as to mobilize violence against individuals and democratic institutions. This is a time for action.

Thus, the Board of Directors of the Contemporary Freudian Society urges the immediate removal and/or impeachment of Donald Trump, actions that need to be taken in order to condemn his egregious behavior as well as prevent him from ever running for public office again. In addition, we urge that members of Congress who actively stoked the flames of violence ahead of last Wednesday should be removed from office. This is essential in order to begin the process of re-establishing the US as a place in which it is safe to think, work, and live together with those with whom we do not agree. While many factors led to the attack on the Capitol building last Wednesday, including unconscious dynamics, none can be addressed until Donald Trump and his enablers are held accountable.

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