Freud teaches us, Jung to the contrary notwithstanding, that there are no universal symbols in the processes of the mind [“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”]. It is therefore necessary to follow the unpredictable course of free association to gain access to the unconscious. For this reason, armchair “psychoanalysis” of historical figures or persons one does not personally know is valueless. Literary critics too are aware that the significance of symbols is peculiar to each author. In the novels of Edith Wharton, for example, thresholds play a special role [see the frame structure of Ethan Frome]. For another novelist, they may hold no special significance whatsoever.
It is therefore fruitless for me to speculate about the primitive unconscious thought processes of Donald Trump, someone I have never met and, it goes without saying, have never led through a process of free association. But the temptation is irresistible, and as I have never been particularly adept at resisting temptation, here goes. To preserve a semblance of scientific rigor, I shall cast these idle fancies in the form of predictions. As the Fall campaign unfolds, you may check to see whether my expectations are confirmed. Since, as we all know, post hoc, ergo propter hoc, the success of my predictions will confirm my speculations.
Trump gives every evidence of being, at a very primitive level, both fascinated with and repelled by women. He is frightened by strong women and flattered by submissive, conventionally attractive women. He is obsessed with women’s sexuality as a prize to be won and worn on his sleeve, and he is deeply disgusted by women’s bodily functions. Judging by his comments about Megyn Kelly and Hillary Clinton, he does not sharply distinguish between urination or excretion on the one hand and menstruation on the other, which suggests that he is fixated at roughly the stage of psychosexual development of a three year old. He is also morbidly sensitive about the size of his hands and the folk wisdom concerning their connection to the size of his sexual organ.
None of this is especially unusual, of course. All of us are in the grip of these sorts of infantile obsessions, which through a process of sublimation we convert into socially acceptable adult passions. [Think, for example, of the extraordinarily aggressive psychosexual language in which mild-mannered mathematicians talk about their proofs – driving through a proof, ramming home a conclusion, dismissing the proofs of competitors as “trivial.” Anyone who does not feel the aggressive thrust of a logical demonstration, which compels acquiescence, is not paying attention.] What sets Trump apart from the general run of human beings is his utter inability to control the eruption of these primitive thought processes into speech, unmediated and unfiltered by the workings of an adult ego. It is as though he is perpetually engaged in free association.
After watching Trump and listening to him for months, I have become convinced that he is going to find it psychologically intolerable to compete on the public stage with a strong, self-confident woman. If, as I anticipate, the polls show Clinton beating him, Trump will find this simply unbearable, and his outbursts will become ever more bizarrely inappropriate. He has already begun making disparaging remarks about Clinton “playing the woman card” and about her “shouting” when she gives public speeches. Soon, he will bring up Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, and, I predict, will say that Bill strayed because Hillary could not satisfy him sexually. Unthinkable! you say? Wait for it.
He will be compelled to engage in at least one or two public debates with Clinton. If, as I hope, she responds to his personal attacks by laughing at him, this affront to his amour proper will be intolerable to him. He is an insult comedian who has unexpectedly risen above himself. Along about middle October, when it becomes clear that he is going to lose badly, and to a woman, I predict that he will go seriously bonkers.
I trust all of you to hold me accountable.