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Trumpism

The Intuitive Function, the Savior, and the Trickster

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Aviva Brown, June 9, 2023

Schutz, D. (2017). Elevator.For most of its history, the United States has been a nation overwhelmingly white and Christian, its policies fashioned by men who controlled the levers of power, allowing them to protect their economic interests. By 2045, however, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that white Americans will lose their majority status, dropping below fifty percent of the population (Krogstad et al., 2021). While many Americans accept the changing complexion of the country, others feel threatened by it. Donald J. Trump tapped into xenophobic and racist fears at the ballot box in his successful bid for the Presidency in 2016 (Jacobs, 2017). His behavior as president stoked and emboldened his base, resulting in what some have called a cult of personality which has eroded U.S. democracy (Tharoor, 2022). His refusal to concede his loss to President Biden led to the violent insurrection of January 6th, 2020. Many asked, “How did we get here?”

In general terms, one can apply Jungian psychology to conclude that the demonization of everyone who disagrees with Trump and his base—known as the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement—represents a classic shadow projection. While such a characterization would not be wrong, a Jungian typological analysis provides a more granular tool to examine the psychological forces at work in Trumpism. Because every projection creates counter-projections, the response to Trump also demonizes him and his followers. In spite of this dynamic, it is undeniable that neo-Nazis have infiltrated the ranks of MAGA (Clark, 2020). What has not been reported is the way in which typological theory can be used to illuminate the subject. The unique role that intuition plays in the MAGA movement can reveal unconscious motives as well as clarify the similarities between MAGA and Nazi Germany in the 20th century and those between Hitler and Trump. Jung (1936/1970) observed that Hitler’s psychology showed evidence of archetypal possession, a state which suppresses individuality but endows the individual with great instinctual force. Similarly, Trump’s hold on his base is rooted in his ability to channel both the trickster and the eternal child, archetypes whose characteristics overlap in significant ways and whose merger in a single person amplifies their effects.

When compared with other functions, intuition has greater potential to constellate the archetype associated with it in John Beebe’s eight-function model. This is because the intuitive function is the function most closely related to the collective level of the unconscious. Jung (1948/1969) observed that “‘inborn forms of ‘intuition,’ namely the archetypes of perception and apprehension … are the necessary determinants of all psychic life” (¶ 270). Simply put, intuition functions through “its relation to the archetypes” (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶ 660). It follows that when the archetypes corresponding to introverted and extraverted intuition in a given type erupt, they do so from the deepest levels of the collective unconscious. Moreover, like any eruption from the unconscious, the powerful psychological forces unleashed can override the ego’s control and lead to inflation if the ego identifies with the material unleashed, appropriating it as its own.

The Typology of the Collective

While typology was developed with individual personality in mind, Jung recognized that a nation can also possess a particular psychology. He wrote, “the psychopathology of the masses is rooted in the psychology of the individual” (Jung, 1946/1970b, ¶ 445). Moreover, a nation’s dominant psychology can be expressed through its politics, and Jung considered Germany during World War II a prime example of this. He attributed Germany’s atrocities to its collective psychopathology rooted in an inferiority complex that took hold after it was defeated in World War I. Its sense of inferiority, Jung believed, left it susceptible to a compensatory inflation and possession by the mythic Germanic god of war, Wotan (Jung, 1936/1970, ¶¶ 371-399).

Moser, K. (1915). Wotan and Brunhilde.The loss of white Christian power and privilege has led to a similar inferiority complex in the United States, one that is compensated by the aggressive militarized leanings of those who fill the ranks of QAnon, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, and the Proud Boys, all of whom remain loyal to Trump. His 2016 presidential promise-turned-campaign-slogan to Make America Great Again resembles Hitler’s promise to usher in the Thousand-Year Reich. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Trump and the MAGA movement include those with antisemitic and white nationalist beliefs, as evidenced by Trump’s dinner with Kanye West and Nicholas Fuentes and his refusal to unequivocally reject their ideologies (Brownstein 2022; Haberman & Feuer, 2022). Not coincidentally, the mythological Wotan, also known as the god of storm and frenzy, calls to mind QAnon’s slogan that “The Storm is Coming” and Trump’s endless capacity to foment chaos by his words and deeds. The comparison of Nazi Germany’s collective psyche with the current collective American psyche, at least as represented by Trumpism, is apt not only because it portrays similar psychological forces at work but also because the way these psychological forces are manifesting suggests that both cultures are characterized by a distorted intuition function. As such, the catastrophe perpetrated by Nazi Germany provides insights that might help avoid an American version of such a catastrophe.

ESTJ functions and archetypes according to the Beebe model.

Manifest Destiny and Archetypal Possession

Jungian analyst John Giannini (2004) assessed the dominant psychological type of the United States as ESTJ. The ESTJ’s dominant extraverted thinking (Te) allowed the United States to conquer and colonize, realizing its belief in manifest destiny. As such, it represents the tireless, single-minded American work ethic and the “can-do attitude that makes difficult tasks seem feasible” (Shumate, 2021, p. 213). Tertiary extraverted intuition (Ne) allowed America to see itself as a land of endless opportunity and possibilities, fueling its entrepreneurial spirit, while auxiliary introverted sensation (Si) built its industries through its capacity for planning that “breaks down ideas into actionable steps needed to implement them” (p. 189). These national accomplishments were also facilitated by the feeling function’s inferior position in the ESTJ type, allowing any “feelings [that got] in the way of a goal” (p. 219) to be ignored. The brutal conquest of indigenous people and the embrace of slavery that helped build the nation’s wealth attest to this.

The Republican Party has been the party that best represents the American ESTJ type because of its embrace of tradition, which is the focus of the introverted sensing function (see “Collective Consciousness,” Dunlap & Hunziker, 2021). The flight of moderate Republicans from the party since the rise of Trumpism has concentrated its makeup in favor of those who wish to maintain the privilege represented by the old order. White Christian men remain the key demographic of the Republican Party, a demographic which it shares with the MAGA movement. The Democratic Party, by contrast, is more ethnically and religiously diverse (Pew Research Center, 2020).

However, a critical difference between the ESTJ type who built this country and the ESTJ that comprises the MAGA movement is the archetypal possession which Trump precipitated. A typological analysis of extraverted and introverted intuition in the MAGA movement reveals its unique susceptibility to the same archetypal forces that took hold of Nazi Germany. In Beebe’s eight-function model, extraverted intuition falls in the third position, and its opposing aspect, introverted intuition (Ni), falls in the seventh position for the ESTJ type. The third position corresponds with the archetype of the eternal child, and the seventh position corresponds with the archetype of the trickster. Both archetypes are integral to the process of psychological transformation, and their archetypal possession of the MAGA movement points to the need for psychological growth at the collective level of its psyche and in the country as a whole.

The Eternal Child’s Emotional Instability

John Beebe viewed the eternal child in the third position as possessing “an emotional volatility characteristic of a juvenile phase of development” that can lead to a so-called “third-function crisis,” which he characterized as a cycle of “expectation and disappointment” (Shumate, 2021, p. 99). Lenore Thompson (1998) viewed the third-function problem as making one susceptible to hearing what one wants to hear, and the echo chamber of hyper-partisanship has only intensified this propensity. The only voice the MAGA movement hears is that of Trump, and it hears him through the ears of the eternal child. This understanding of the third-function crisis is consistent with Jung’s (1921/1971) characterization of extraverted intuition. Jung (1921/1971) described extraverted intuition as an “unconscious perception … wholly directed to external objects.” It presents as “an attitude of expectancy” that is dependent on “external situations” (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶¶ 610, 613). The intuitive function is forward-looking and perceives in a way that wraps it in a sense of fate and, therefore, is suffocated by “stable conditions” (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶ 613). These characteristics are present in the MAGA movement. The external object for MAGA is Trump, a man who creates and thrives on unstable conditions. Its aspect of expectancy is seen most clearly in the “prophecies” of QAnon that predicted the arrest of Hillary Clinton and the restoration of Trump to the presidency (Bort, 2021; Wong, 2021). Although both predictions failed to materialize, the needs of extraverted intuition were met by Trump’s mere assertion that voter fraud was rampant in the 2020 election and by the launch of his 2024 presidential campaign. More importantly, he is often identified with the archetype of the eternal child, which corresponds to extraverted intuition in the ESTJ type.

Dubuffet, J. (1961). Figure in red.Some of the qualities of the eternal child (puer aeternus) archetype are shared by the archetypes of the divine child and the savior (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶ 459). Many in the MAGA movement regard Trump as a semi-divine savior and even the second coming of Christ, just as some in Nazi Germany regarded Hitler as a savior (Jung, 1945/1970, ¶ 420; Schmeltzer, 2022). Trump’s critics, on the other hand, focus on the infantile aspects of the archetype, often criticizing him for his petulance and childish behavior. Many political cartoons have depicted him in diapers. Like a child, he possesses a sense of omnipotent grandiosity, famously declaring, “I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” and “When you’re a star …, you can do anything” (Brice-Saddler, 2019; Timm, 2016). The puer’s wish to avoid the demands of adulthood is also revealed in QAnon’s founding myth, which holds that a cabal of deep state Democrats sex-traffics children and drinks their blood (Wong, 2020). The MAGA psyche splits good and evil, projecting the latter onto the deep state, which plays the role of the “bad parent” while Trump, in spite of his puerile persona, is seen as the “good parent” who can protect them by maintaining the old order. A conspiracy that is based on the sex trafficking of minors points to an unconscious fear of grown-up sex, an intrinsically adult activity, as an act that betrays the innocence of childhood. The archetypal qualities of the eternal child are also consistent with Carol Shumate’s (2021) warning that the archetype in the third position can lead to a refusal to grow up, instead inviting worship of a hero who carries the mantle of adulthood, thus saving one from the difficult task of taking responsibility for oneself (p. 181).

The propensity to hero-worship manifests not only in MAGA’s worship of Trump but also in Trump’s self-worship and admiration of authoritarian leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, and China’s Xi Jinping (Cillizza & Williams, 2019). Like these world leaders, Trump answers only to himself, and he has so far managed to avoid almost all accountability. As of this writing, he has filed six bankruptcies, has twice escaped conviction in the Senate despite two House impeachments, has yet to be charged with anything for his role in fomenting the violent insurrection of January 6th, and has not yet faced any legal consequences for absconding with highly classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. His only indictment to date relates to the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election, a felony-level case viewed by many as difficult to prove (Montoya-Galvez, 2023). Moreover, some have pointed out that a felony conviction would not necessarily preclude a second presidency, and the only tangible effect of the indictment has been to strengthen MAGA support and boost his fundraising (O’Brien, 2023; Whele, 2023). Were he to win re-election, he could also try to exercise what he believes is an “absolute right” (Wagner, 2018) to self-pardon for any federally-convicted crimes, which would only serve to strengthen the sense of invincibility so characteristic of the eternal child.

The controlling, self-centered, and attention-seeking qualities of the eternal child are part of everyone’s psyche (Shumate, 2021, p. 181), but when inflated they are characteristic of narcissistic personality disorders. Trump’s self-centeredness is best described by his niece, a psychologist (Trump, 2020), who said that he controls others by name-calling and bullying, engaging in delay tactics, and creating chaos that overwhelms the public’s capacity to keep track of events, allowing him to control the conversation and change the subject to suit his needs. His seemingly bottomless need for attention and adulation is obtained through his many rallies and his prolific use of social media. His habitual transgression of boundaries provokes responses that also supply him with much-needed attention, and boundary breaking is a quality also attributed to the eternal child (Shumate, 2021, p. 181). Trump’s norm-transgressing behaviors are numerous; the most dangerous ones are those which have weakened the public’s trust in the media and governmental institutions, exemplified by his demands of personal loyalty and belief that the Attorney General’s job is to do his bidding (Benen, 2018).

Picasso, P. (1929). A blue acrobat.All these examples demonstrate how Trump has constellated the archetype of the eternal child in morbid ways. Even at its best, the eternal child, along with the function it carries, tends to experience itself as “more capable than it is” (Shumate, 2021, p. 181). When operating through extraverted intuition, it is wont to make intuitive leaps that see more than exists in a person or situation (p.173). As Jung (1921/1971) warned, the accuracy of extraverted intuition’s perception can only be known in hindsight, when it “can be established how much of what was ‘seen’ was actually in the object, and how much was ‘read into’ it” (¶ 610). An example of this kind of intuition when it is in shadow or at a primitive stage of development is MAGA’s belief without any evidence that there was rampant voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. New Mexico’s Otero County Commissioner refused to certify election results, declaring that he did so “based on my gut feeling and my own intuition, and that’s all I need” (Godfrey, 2022). The danger of an intuitive leap such as this when one is in a state of archetypal possession calls to mind Jung’s (1946/1970) warning that when an “archetype is not brought into reality consciously, there is no guarantee whatever that it will be realized in its favorable form; on the contrary, there is all the more danger of a destructive regression” (¶ 475).

A Trickster’s Twisted Gut Instinct

The intuitive function is known for making intuitive leaps, but when this function coincides with the trickster in the seventh position, the propensity to make intuititve leaps is intensified. This magnification is crucial to understanding the power of the archetypal forces that have constellated in the MAGA movement. Introverted intuition is the function that perceives the big picture, reading “between the lines to gain insight,” and it can synthesize a worldview “from a few datapoints” (Shumate, 2021, p. 172). Beebe (2004) described introverted intuition as the function which sees “the gestalts that [move] nations … even in the midst of apparently ‘individual’ experience” (p. 96). When introverted intuition is in shadow, its emergence is often negative or immoderate, and one’s fidelity to the inner vision can leave one “unadapted to present-day reality” (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶ 662). Crucially, what most fail to grasp is that intuitive insights represent psychic, not literal, truths. Confusing the two can detach the subject from reality, just as MAGA has created its own alternative narrative based in conspiracy theories (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶¶ 655, 661).

The MAGA movement’s detachment from consensual reality is best exemplified by the QAnon movement. QAnon encourages intuitive leap-taking through its cryptic style of communication, often expressed in the form of questions. QAnon’s online post #4966 asks: “What is coded in your DNA? Who put it there? Why? … How do you protect your DNA? There is a war for your DNA” (Q, 2022). Supporters are also directed to do their own “research,” leading them down paranoid, distorted rabbit holes (LaFrance, 2020), a clear indicator of primitive intuition. These conspiracies engage the imagination by feeding the introverted intuitive function and activating the archetypal material that erupts from the collective level of the unconscious. In MAGA’s case, the vision of Trump is one of a savior while the vision of those who oppose him is “demonic” (Schmeltzer, 2022), and this archetypal image of Trump as savior has indeed triggered a reactionary, counterbalancing perception of him as demonic. Thus, MAGA has engendered an eruption in the collective psyche that is nothing less than the archetypal battle of good against evil.

Magritte, R. (1936). The philosopher's lamp.This kind of paranoia is precisely the danger of which Jung warned when he stated that the “introverted intuitive … would never imagine that the image he perceived might in some way refer to himself” (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶ 657). Projection is rampant in both Trump and the MAGA movement. To give just a few examples, Trump has made more than 20,000 false claims according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker (Kessler et al., 2020), yet he calls reports by mainstream media “fake news” (Acosta, 2019); he accuses the Democrats of “rigging” (Lozano, 2020) the 2020 presidential election, yet he attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power and pressured at least one Secretary of State to “find” (Shear & Saul, 2021) enough votes to change the result in his favor; and finally, Trump called Biden “an enemy of the state” (Scully, 2022) while he has called for suspending the Constitution and did not intervene when his supporters staged a violent coup (Demirjian & Olorunnipa, 2022). While projection can no doubt lead to tragic consequences, as a psychological process, projection is necessary for psychological growth and the transformation of consciousness. Only unconscious contents, by definition, can be projected, withdrawn, and integrated into conscious awareness. And this is precisely where the trickster archetype is synergistic with the archetype of the eternal child.

Cycling Between the Trickster and the Eternal Child

The trickster is the archetype of disruption which works to tear down the old order to make way for the new. It erupts whenever psychological growth is required, whenever the personality has become rigid or overly one-sided. It disrupts through slips of the tongue and by causing accidents, large or small. Both the eternal child and the trickster foment chaos by transgressing the boundaries which have sustained the old order. Although everyone’s psyche contains these archetypes, it is consciousness or the lack thereof that makes them either rejuvenating or deadening.

The trickster’s overlap with the eternal child is seen in the mythical Hermes, regarded as both a puer aeternus and a trickster. His originating myth portrays him as a cunning babe, a thief, and a bald-faced liar who, like Trump, was rewarded for his outrageous behavior (The Homeric Hymns, ca. 700-601 B.C.E./2006). Hermes’ cunning wins him an audience with the Olympian assembly of gods where he doubles down on his lie that he did not steal Apollo’s cattle; Trump’s cunning is expressed through his political instincts, and he is also known for doubling down on his lies. Hermes tells the farmer who witnessed his theft that “you didn’t see what you just saw … you didn’t hear what you just heard—keep quiet and you won’t get hurt” (The Homeric Hymns, ca. 700-601 B.C.E./2006, p. 30). Hermes’ remark is echoed by Trump’s admonition: “Just remember: what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” (Wise, 2018). It is also noteworthy that Apollo bestowed on Hermes the gift of divination in the form of the Fates, warning him that depending on the diet they consumed, they would either “pronounce truths” or “lead you astray” (The Homeric Hymns, ca. 700-601 B.C.E./2006, pp. 67-68).

Moreover, Hermes is more playful and amoral than immoral because he intends no harm. By contrast, Trump is known for his veiled threats, warning, for instance, that if he is indicted for his mishandling of classified documents, there will be “problems … the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen” (Ward & Desiderio, 2022), or his threat to reveal private information about Ron DeSantis if he runs for president in 2024 (Haberman, 2022). His Hermetic thievery expresses itself in his grifting—whether overcharging the Secret Service for stays at the Trump hotels, using his leadership PAC for personal use rather than its stated purpose to “help Republicans,” or raising money for a non-existent “Official Election Defense Fund” (Calmes, 2022). His greatest theft, however, is the trust in democratic institutions that he stole from the American people. Trump’s authoritarian tendencies coupled with the steady diet of distortions and lies fed to his base have divided the United States in a way not seen since the American Civil War.

The old psychological order that the trickster is attempting to break down in Trumpism is the naive belief that white privilege, particularly for Christian men, must forever be protected by the state. This is why MAGA has reacted forcefully and even violently to the Black Lives Matter movement, Critical Race Theory, and accusations of institutional racism. Each of these is perceived as an encroachment on the status quo that underpins white privilege in American society. It also explains the alt-right’s embrace of the so-called Great Replacement theory which holds that there is a plan to replace white Americans with minorities who share Democratic views (Oshin, 2022). All these issues invoke the country’s original sin of slavery, its greatest shadow which, if faced rather than denied, would bring about psychological growth.

Dix, O. (1949). The resurrection.

Catastrophe Constellates the Savior

MAGA’s vociferous response to attempts to redress racism suggests the realization that the privileged status of its adherents has eroded as the voices of those historically marginalized and oppressed by the status quo have taken greater hold. The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Jung (1954/1969) believed that when the archetype of the trickster coincides with the archetype of the savior (as it does for MAGA in the figure of Trump), “some calamity…has [already] happened and been consciously understood. Only out of disaster can the longing for the savior arise”; Jung concluded that “the recognition and unavoidable integration of the shadow create such a harrowing situation that nobody but a savior” (¶ 487) can compensate for the catastrophe that has already taken place.

How such a catastrophe is experienced depends entirely on the attitude one takes to the shadow that the trickster raises to consciousness (Jung, 1946/1970b, ¶ 461). The fact that Trump’s base remains loyal to him suggests that no psychological transformation has occurred and that MAGA’s collective attitude is stuck in a fearful, defensive posture. Fearfulness, Jung (1945/1970) observed, is the psychological mechanism that makes archetypal possession possible (¶ 431). Marie-Louise von Franz (1986/2008) noted that when “the archetype moves the masses it generally leads to thinking that they have the Truth. This can lead them to despise and perhaps persecute people who think or feel differently” (p.17). Her words describe precisely the situation with the MAGA movement, whose members believe they are waging a war against the forces of evil. Jung (1946/1970a) also noted that when the “animation of the collective unconscious is due to a complete breakdown of all conscious hopes and expectations, the danger arises that the unconscious may take the place of conscious reality” (¶ 468). The end of white privilege represents just such a loss, and unless MAGA members’ fears can be quelled through some alternative to Trump, their hope for protection will remain pinned to him. When there is nothing left to lose, political violence becomes acceptable (Freedland, 2021). MAGA has yet to recognize the call of the trickster who invites it to face its shadow. Instead, the movement stays sheltered in its alternative reality. How long it can remain there depends in large part on whether Trump succeeds in his 2024 presidential bid and, if he does not, whether the movement’s adherents can once again believe that the election was somehow stolen from him. Only a total betrayal by Trump of the trust MAGA members have placed in him would create the psychological opening necessary for them to withdraw their projections, and, at least so far, their trust and loyalty remain.

To the extent that the same archetypal forces constellated in Trumpism mirror those constellated by Hitler in Nazi Germany, it is important to remember that Hitler’s first attempted coup (the Beer Hall Putsch) failed but laid the ground for his second, successful, coup. The trickster in Nazism took the form of the god Wotan who possessed the German psyche, a god identified with Mercury, the Roman equivalent of Hermes (Jung, 1936/1970, ¶ 394). The parallels between the psychological forces constellated in Trumpism and Nazism explain MAGA’s embrace of white Christian nationalism and the unprecedented rise in antisemitism since 2016 (Baker, 2022). The psychological parallels between them also make Jung’s thoughts about Hitler applicable to Trump:

[Hitler’s] pathological features—complete lack of insight into one’s own character, auto-erotic self-admiration,… denigration … of one’s fellow men, projection of the shadow, lying, falsification of reality, determination to impress by fair means or foul … —all these were united in one man. (Jung, 1945/1970, ¶¶ 418-419)

So, too, these qualities have united in Trump, facilitated by the intuitive function’s activation of the eternal child and the trickster archetypes. Jung warned:

When such [collective mythological] symbols occur in a large number of individuals and are not understood … a mob is formed. Its leader will soon be found in the individual who has … the least sense of responsibility and, because of his inferiority, the greatest will to power. He will let loose everything that is ready to burst forth, and the mob will follow with the irresistible force of an avalanche. (Jung, 1946/1970b, ¶ 449)

This description applies as much to Trump as it did to Hitler. Trump’s grandiosity compensates for a deep-seated inferiority complex. His narcissistic will to power is evident in his belief that as president, he can do anything he wants (Brice-Saddler, 2019). His lack of responsibility is demonstrated by his belief that he bore no responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic or the insurrection of January 6th (Green, 2022; Liptak & Klein, 2021). Even Trump’s habitual lying is a characteristic he shares with Hitler, whom Jung diagnosed as suffering from pseudologia phantastica, that is, pathological lying (DePaulo, 2017; Jung, 1945/1970, ¶ 419). Finally, like Hitler, Trump has significantly reshaped political history in a relatively short period of time. As Hillman (2005) observed, “When the puer spirit falls into the public arena, it hurries history along” (p. 53). This is because, according to Jung, “In the collective unconscious of the individual, history prepares itself….The archetypal image which the moment requires gets into life, and everybody is seized by it” (Jung, 1935/1976, ¶ 371).

Grosz, G. (1917). Explosion.Psychologically, there is very little difference between the forces which constellated in Nazi Germany and the archetypal forces possessing Trumpism. If events unfold in a similar way, the only difference is that this country would be thrown into a civil war as opposed to a war with other countries. Yet there is a kernel of hope in Jung’s words: not everyone has been seized. Overall, voters largely rejected the most extreme MAGA candidates in the 2022 midterm elections. Still, over 210 candidates who questioned or rejected the legitimacy of Biden’s presidential victory won their races (Stancil, Nov. 2022). Moreover, an increase in so-called voter suppression laws, coupled with the structural advantage the Republican Party has in the electoral college, remains worrisome. Also of concern is the awaited decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper which may cede power to the states in administering federal elections and “could have dire implications for American democracy” (Jurecic, 2022). What is certain from a psychological standpoint is that the trickster will keep upping the ante (just as Trump doubles down when caught in a lie) until something Trump does forces a confrontation with the shadow. His position that the “Massive Fraud” of the 2020 election “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” (Demirjian & Olorunnipa, 2022) has drawn condemnation only from Democrats (Stancil, Dec. 2022). David Joyce, the chair of the Republican Governance Group, when pressed to condemn Trump’s position, would only say that he could not be “chasing every one of these crazy statements” (Stancil, Dec. 2022).

If Trump wins the 2024 Republican nomination, the Republican Party will face a dilemma: either unite behind him and possibly lose the election, or abandon him and risk that another Democrat will be elected. This double bind is the handiwork of the trickster who is the “quintessential archetype of the paradox” (Shumate, 2021, p. 103). Thus, the trickster is also known as the escape artist, and it is, therefore, worth keeping in mind that Trump’s presidential bid may be at least partly motivated by his belief that a second presidential term will help him to escape any legal accountability for possible criminal actions that are still pending investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the District Attorney for Fulton County in the state of Georgia.

A typological analysis of the psychological forces constellated in Trumpism helps explain the situation the United States finds itself in today. If Jung was correct that the co-occurrence of the savior and trickster archetypes represents an awareness that a catastrophe has already happened that must be consciously integrated, then the continued loyalty of Trump’s base (and even much of the rest of the Republican Party) is a bad sign. Jung famously said:

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate …. [W]hen the individual … does not become conscious of his inner opposite [i.e., his shadow], the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. (Jung, 1951/1968, ¶ 126)

In the case of World War II, the world was torn apart by the so-called Aryan “blond beast” (Jung, 1946/1970b, ¶ 447). In the case of Trumpism, the country could be torn in half by a second civil war. The holocaust’s admonition to “never forget” is not enough to avert another catastrophe; only a psychological—as opposed to a political—understanding of the forces at work in the collective psyche can help prevent it. The psychological solution is for all of us to make conscious the eternal child and the trickster within; if we don’t, the external world will express them for us.


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Aviva Brown

Aviva Brown

Aviva G. Brown, JD (INFJ), is a practicing Social Security disability attorney in Portland, OR. She is a doctoral candidate in Depth Psychology with an emphasis in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute where she earned a master’s degree in 2022. Her father, Alfred M. Groner, fled Austria at age eight with his family after Kristallnacht, a pogrom carried out by Nazi stormtroopers on November 9, 1938, and he arrived in the US in 1940. This article is dedicated to him and his family.

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Comments (1)

For those interested in a different approach to the subject, I suggest “Overcoming One-Sidedness in Self and Society” by Jungian scholar Steve Myers. Also, a fine example of bipartisan leadership is the film, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”.
As for the requisite Jung quote:
“It is impossible to convince anybody that the conflict is in the psyche of every individual, since he is now quite sure where his enemy is. [Therefore] the conflict… takes
place on the plane of projection in the form of political tension.” (C.W. 14, p. 363).
As we are all human, none of us is immune to this, in its many forms.

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