Democracy, psychoanalysis, and Room share a powerful connection. They were created to contain and facilitate the many voices that comprise (and conflict with) our polities, ourselves, and, in the case of Room, the space between ourselves and our societies. This is not coincidental. As Jill Gentile explains in her book Feminine Law, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire, there is a resonance between the method of free association underlying the work of psychoanalysis and the right of free speech which is the bedrock of democracy.
From my very first contact with psychoanalysis, a fascination in the theory and practice took hold of me. But becoming a psychoanalyst was a bit unimaginable. How would a lower-middle-class Palestinian immigrant navigate such a life goal? How could I possibly pay for years of analysis and navigate an environment I perceived as potentially hostile to me? I really did not know, but the calling did not subside.
In addition to the political controversies that they ignite, the contents of presidential tweets are subject to diverse statistical analyses as evidenced by postings on the internet.
Two years ago, an article in the New York Times1 about Donald Trump’s “friends” made me want to collect the little we know about such friendships, some or all of which may apply to Trump himself.
In mythology, in fairy tales, and in psychoanalysis, losing one’s sight often indicates that a disaster has occurred, an event so unbearable that it is no longer possible to look at it. Yet in the ongoing scourge that is the Trump administration, Trump cannot bear that we look away from the disaster.
Sara Mansfield Taber is the author of Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter, the writer’s guide Chance Particulars: A Writer’s Field Notebook, and two books of literary journalism. Her poetry, essays, travel, and opinion pieces have appeared in literary magazines such as The American Scholar and newspapers such as the Washington Post. A psychologist and social worker, she has taught creative nonfiction writing for twenty years.