Adults who were emotionally traumatized as children will often unconsciously re-enact their trauma on others. The greater their pain, the greater their re-enactment.
We know President Obama was emotionally traumatized as a child—but far more than almost anyone appreciates. Throughout his presidency, he has unconsciously communicated to us the pain he feels—usually through his actions, sometimes through his words.
Re-enactments of childhood trauma involve major denial by those who’ve been traumatized and are often expressed through actions called “projective identification” by psychiatrists. In essence a person through his actions makes you feel his deep pain inside—a key part of his “identity”—while remaining oblivious to the meaning of his actions (and his pain). He is giving you his emotional “hot potato” without realizing it consciously. Projective identification is an action—a behavior—filled with powerful emotions about which a person remains in denial.
Take for example, a neighbor (raised by an abusive father) who repeatedly runs over your mailbox accidentally and always “sincerely” apologizes. In short, your neighbor is making you feel his own pain of powerlessness and abuse with his ensuing anger—a core part of him—all the while in denial about the painful emotions behind his behavior. He’s short circuiting his pain, making you feel it instead as a proxy without saying a word.
On other occasions re-enactments of childhood trauma involve “projection,” a blind spot where a person sees his flaws in others—the so called “log in your eye” denial—oblivious to his own personal flaws. Obama re-enacts his deep traumas both with words (projection) and with actions (projective identification).
First we will look at his use of projection. He grew up with insecurity bred into him. His father was totally absent during his childhood, and his mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Hawaii while she lived in Indonesia after age 10. Obama developed strong feelings of abandonment—not realizing how great they were—which he described in his memoir, Dreams from My Father. In it, he tells stories about how emotionally traumatized children can become angry adults—but he has no idea he’s talking about himself, in total denial about his own deep pain and anger.
He points to an anger he harbors that is difficult for others to understand in an idealized president.
Dinesh D’Souza identified this anger in his book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, attributing it to Obama adopting his socialist’s father anti-colonial anger. What D’Souza does not touch upon, though, is Obama’s “log in the eye” denials and his re-enactments of an inner crisis which are extremely pertinent to understanding this president.
The recent debt crisis debacle has been a powerful example. Obama tried to frighten those who rely on their Social Security checks each month, the military families who are barely scraping by, and those who rely on Medicare for medical treatment–insisting if the debt ceiling were not raised, checks would not be sent out. He threatened the security of millions of Americans.
Why? He was demonstrating a huge re-enactment. His own security is being threatened. First his re-election bid is in severe jeopardy, primarily due to our nation’s ailing economy. Because of this, he goes on the assault with the intention of making others feel his pain. Losing re-election would deal a major blow to his self-esteem. Instead of comforting Americans during this tough time, he tries to frighten us to the degree he feels frightened. Surely this fear also goes back to his deep abiding insecurity—when he was admittedly stressed by his absent father’s failure to provide financially.
Obama has made great use of fear tactics during his presidency. Words like “catastrophe,” “crisis,” and “disaster” litter his speeches. On Friday, July 23, he warned Congress that if the debt ceiling were not raised over the weekend, the following Monday would be a day of financial havoc when the Asian markets opened. Instead of inspiring confidence in a market that is extremely sensitive, President Obama created an ominous atmosphere. Once again he re-enacts his own fear on the country.
According to the Heritage Foundation, “The Obama Administration spent all weekend trying to talk down markets, hoping to make use of any artificial drop for political purposes. Never mind that the financial security of hundreds of millions of Americans and others would be injured in the process.”
During this debt crisis Obama also told Congress that it was time to “eat your peas.” His message was that Congress should grow up, show better judgment, become more disciplined and compromise where it is necessary–even though it doesn’t “taste” good. He was accusing Congress of being absent, slack on their job—the one who needed to “eat their peas.” Here we see another example of projection and re-enactment.
The facts are he failed to provide leadership in the “debt crisis” letting it develop with his out of control spending and failure to compromise—and then blamed the Republican Congress. Here he repeats what his absent role model father did to him—failed to nurture and teach him discipline when he was growing up. He re-enacts the behavior of his father who was slack on the job. Once again, we see yet another Obama projection—another blind spot where he sees his flaws in others and speaks about it–and another Obama re-enactment of his personal pain.
Now we look at a time where he speaks simply through his behavior—again what we call “projective identification”—and re-enacts on America his pain from his father the irresponsible leader. In August the poorly handled debt crisis and increasing jobs crisis led to a precipitous decline in the stock market which again panicked millions of Americans. Obama responds by going ahead with his vacation plans at $50,000-per-week (Martha’s Vineyard) and makes no effort to call the Congress back from recess to deal with the crisis. Here he inflicts on America the same absent father he had. Bill Clinton told us, “I feel your pain.” Obama says with his actions, “Feel my pain.”
The president is fueling a destructive system of perpetual crisis. He wants to transfer the pain that burns within his own life to the American people.
Appropriately it seems—for “The Absent President”—a few weeks later when the earthquake struck the East Coast Obama was on vacation playing golf and made no significant appearance. Next when devastating Hurricane Irene shortly lambasted the entire East Coast Obama again was enjoying golf and later having dinner with friends.