“How do people not adequately welcomed and cared for by their society react? Psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi’s trauma theory gives us important answers to this question,…
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Ferenczi developed a model of children’s response to intrafamilial abuse, in which the dynamic of identification with the aggressor plays a central role. Most basically, children’s need to feel they belong takes precedence over all their other needs. Feeling excluded and emotionally abandoned is traumatic. What children do when they feel this is to comply, to try to fit in and be “good,” so they can feel they belong.
[T]he child gives up any semblance of advocating or fighting for herself, and complies behaviorally with what's expected—tries to be the victim that the aggressors want— and also complies mentally, in terms of feeling, thinking, perceiving, and understanding things the way she’s “supposed to,” rather than according to her own personal experience. Mental compliance helps her play her role better. Very important here, critical thinking must be given up, because critical thinking—searching for one’s own perspective, rather than accepting things as defined by others—involves the potential of psychologically separating, while what is most urgent for the frightened child is to belong.”
-Jay Frankel, NYU
"The Traumatic Structuring of the Trump Phenomenon"; Contours Journal, Issue 8; Spring 2017
Hungarian psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi, close budso of Sigmund Freud, believed it when his patients complained of sexual abuse: Siggy F not so much.
I have observed repeatedly the validity of Ferenczi's Identification With the Aggressor theory, in the lives of most of my fellow missionary kids abandoned by their parents. For sure, it's sad watching people you grew up with going all Stockholm on you, but more than that it's scary. Watching this unfold a second time, this time on a generational scale with Trumpism, is uncanny: people who get hurt too badly start to love and passionately defend whoever it was who did this to them. It's not a conscious thing. it's a science thing. Which is why the type of Christians I knew, and followers of Trump, are so exquisitely susceptible: they don't believe in science. They don't get that their inability to believe in science is itself an easily verifiable scientific phenomenon.