A Mental Health Clinician Calls on the U.S. to Confront Aggressive Scapegoating
In the current political climate of our nation, the politics of fear and gratuitous aggressive scapegoating have become the norm.
The Task Leader in the White House has become the Scapegoater-in-chief. This affects the norms of behavior for the country at large but also affects the patients we work with in our practice.
In group therapy case studies, I have demonstrated how the fantasies of exclusion and annihilation can be awakened in my patients as well as our fellow citizens. Clinicians can be alert to the emergence of these phenomena in our treatment room – or we can deny their importance and reinforce our patients’ fantasies and feelings.I believe the ethical choice is to confront aggressive scapegoating whenever we see it.
Institutions in a democratic society are also vulnerable and susceptible to aggressive scapegoating. Once again, the Task Leader sets the norm – either inflaming the scapegoating and exclusion process or striving for inclusion and social acceptance as cardinal principles of good government.
I repeat: In the current political climate of our nation, the politics of fear and gratuitous aggressive scapegoating have become the norm. Those political leaders who explicitly call for exclusionary policies are destructive and dangerous to the body politic.
It seems clear that U.S. citizens, like members of a small group, must voice their dissent and not be silent in the presence of aggressive scapegoating. If the nominal Task Leader of our country will not act responsibly and reject wholesale scapegoating of large segments of the population, then we, the people must not be silent. We must take that responsibility into our own hands and act in the name of our national democratic and humanitarian values.