To the catalogue of anxieties her patients explore during therapy — marriage, children and careers — psychologist Alison Howard is now listening to a new source of stress: the political rise of Donald Trump.
In recent days, at least two patients have invoked the Republican front-runner, including one who talked at length about being disturbed that Trump can be so divisive and popular at the same time, said Howard, who practices in the District.
What had happened to Trump during his childhood, the patient wanted to know, to make him such a “bad person”?
“He has stirred people up,” Howard said. “We’ve been told our whole lives not to say bad things about people, to not be bullies, to not ostracize people based on their skin color. We have these social mores, and he breaks all of them and he’s successful. And people are wondering how he gets away with it.”
Hand-wringing over Trump’s rapid climb, once confined to Washington’s political establishment, is now palpable among everyday Americans who are growing ever more anxious over the prospect of the billionaire reaching the White House.
With each Trump victory in the GOP primaries and caucuses, Democrats and Republicans alike are sharing their alarm with friends over dinner, with strangers over social media and, in some cases, with their therapists. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 69 percent of Americans said the idea of “President Trump” made them anxious.
For some, Trump’s diatribes against undocumented immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims evoke unpleasant flashbacks of dictators. For others, his raw-toned insults conjure memories of high school bullies.
“It’s like a hurricane is coming at us, and I don’t have any way of knowing which way to go or how to combat it,” Taylor, 27, a Democrat, said in a phone interview. “He’s extremely reactionary, and that’s what scares me the most. I feel totally powerless, and it’s horrible.”
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