MAKING IT BETTER: Mob Mentality, Collective Grief…And The Trump Impact!

In Countries, in offices, in homes and everywhere else in between, across the globe, everyones’talking about it. From what I can gather, the reaction is mostly one of shock, horror, disbelief, rage, grief and again every other emotion in between. Conversely, there are groups of people who are celebrating and rejoicing at what they believe they have collectively accomplished, which is sticking up a F…k you finger at the ‘elite’, the ‘establishment’, by using their vote for ‘The Donald’ to show their rejection of those they feel have taken them for granted…’We got them!’ they are saying with pride, they are pointing and saying ‘that will teach them, we showed them we meant business’. That may be the case, and certainly the beast has been unleashed…Donald Trump is the 45th President elect of America in an election coup of epic proportions. However as we say in our culture as they are pointing with one finger, there are three other fingers pointing back at them. Now we will see what those fingers are going to tell them as we go forward.

As was the case in the UK with Brexit where the underclass, disenfranchised, were overwhelmingly convinced, brainwashed into taking decisions that would ultimately hurt them. They were lied to, made to believe that all their problems stemmed from people in the country who had darker skin colouring from them and making decisions to get rid of them would improve their lives and solve all their economic, cultural and social problems. They drunk from the tea of misinformation, bought the snake oil and voted to leave the EU. The truth and the effects, impact of the decision they made is slowly beginning to unfold and they are beginning to awaken to the rude awakening that not only were they lied to by the powers that be, they were tricked and they have now taken part in a course of action that has such an unknown quantity in the negative, there’s no telling where they are going to end up and how unstable their lives are going to be in the long run. Trump tapped into the convergence of anxieties. It’s easy to feel like we are living in an alternate universe, but we are not, this is real time. This loss is both symbolic and material and the result we are witnessing from many is a psycho emotional state that follows grief, loss and bereavement.

I am firmly of the belief that this is going to be the same result the kamikaze action taken by millions of American in voting in Trump is going be. This is a man who can make three profoundly different and opposing statements about the same topic in the same breath, while professing each one to be the absolute truth. With Trump, truth and lies are blurred and barely have any distinction in his eyes. It’s all about the win and the end justifies the means. He loves the chase, the game (which was all the election really was to him!). He had said if he didn’t win, it would have been a waste of his time and his money, but he would go back to his comfortable, affluent lifestyle. Somehow I feel confident in saying that would not have been the response Hillary would have given, because becoming the first female president in America meant something much bigger than her; she also had more integrity in spite of her flaws(never said she was perfect).

This man is going to rock the world in ways that are too frightening to contemplate. ISIS put out a statement rejoicing at America’s choice in Donald Trump. They threaten to bring Pain and devastation to America with his presidency. Vladimir Putin and Russia as a whole are thrilled to bits. Assad says Donald is a pragmatist so it would make sense for him to work with them., This alone speaks for itself that terrorists, demagogues, white nationalists, and supremists are pleased he has come to power. His rhetoric is in line with what they believe and preach. To be honest I’m really not that sure Trump really believes in all the crap he was spouting. It simply served his purpose and the more he said it the more he was revered and praised, so he continued because it also fed into his own pathology, his ego and desperate need for acceptance and to be loved. It just took on a life of its own, which itself is beyond frightening. I think I would have more respect for someone who believes in some ideology and stands by it. At least i know what is coming and can gird my loins. This strange man who speaks from both sides of his mouth depending on which way the wind is blowing can wreak untold horror because he has now been given the mandate to do what he wants with impunity. They say there are check and balances to curtail him, only time will tell.

I cannot comprehend how white women in the US could feel and say that the misogyny that Trump expressed and displayed was of no interest to them. Some of the women who were asked about their views said his aggressive and abusive behaviour towards women showed he was a ‘real man’, it was ‘machismo’, and they loved it; there’s really no where to go after that kind of warped thinking. Trump spoke to these people, his main base in the language they understood. This language was very simple, repetitive, and almost hypnotic and it worked. He convinced them he was just like them (he’s not) and he understood their pain. He convinced them he was the underdog, just like them (he’s not). He told the Trumpians what they needed to hear and whipped them into frenzy.

I am particularly incensed by Trumps’ wife, Slovenian born Melania (immigrant), who the day after the election immediately plastered on her face book ..@melaniatrumpfirstlady..or something to that effect. It all felt crass, desperate, lacking finesse, lacking decorum and devoid of grace. In an interview she gave to a US news programme she claimed she had been likened to Jackie Kennedy (she clearly had been lied to!) Money can bring you untold wealth and comfort, but if you had no class prior to it, you will remain classless with it. I am aggrieved in light of the exemplary life the Present First family (The Obamas) have led in that role over the past 8 years, a total class act! I was reminded of another total class act in a certain Governor and his First Lady closer home that were also cheated out of what was rightfully theirs but have emerged victorious and we are enjoying her vision through this website.

Social Psychology has some explanations for group or mob/herd mentality and violence. When people are part of a group, they often experience what is known as de-individuation or a loss of self awareness. When people de-individuate, they are less likely to follow normal restraints and inhibitions and more likely to lose their sense of individual identity. Groups can generate a sense of emotional excitement, which can lead to the provocation of behaviours that a person would not typically engage in if alone. Being in a group even if it only comprises of two people seems to make some behaviour more acceptable than would not be otherwise.

De-individuation does not always take place every time people get together in a group, and there are some group characteristics that increase the likelihood of violence, such as group size and physical anonymity. It would seem many people believe that they cannot be held responsible for violent acts as belonging to the ‘group’ and not their own; in other words everyone was doing it. When people feel that their behaviour cannot be tracked to them, they are more likely to break social norms.

As the dust is settling both in the UK after Brexit and most recently with the results of the US Elections, the recriminations, accusations, hysteria and collective public grief are flowing in abundance. The 5 days of rioting immediately after the election results, the weeping and gnashing of teeth are all symbolic and representing group or collective hysteria and grief. This was similar to what was witnessed after Princess Diana tragically died in 1997. Nothing of its kind had ever been witnessed before in the otherwise restrained, stiff upper lip society of the British. People grieved like it was a personal loss.

Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance (which takes on the form of the new normal) is the process of grieving. The process has to be managed by different groups of people who may or may not have been directly impacted by the choice of The President Elect, Donald Trump. Even those who feel the decision was in their best interest, they may find as time goes on it works against them. We have already started to hear of the in house battles that are taking place within the Trump camp; with people who worked to bring him the presidency being kicked out and others brought in(.. mmh sounds a bit familiar ?). Having said that at least Trump is attempting to put together his cabinet immediately, which raises the question what could possibly be the reason why ours took almost a year to assemble? Babies are conceived and born in that time, there have been wars commenced in that time.

Public grief is as real as grieving for a loved one and can be amplified by the scale. Public mourning of a national event can set off or remind people of personal tragedies. They tend to return to feelings of inability to act or to make change. Public hysteria or mourning of a national or world event can help people to deal with personal feelings, but can also bring depressive emotions to the surface.

It’s time for us as Nigerians to look inward and try to learn something from all that is going on around us in the world. If nothing at all we should be clear by now that ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY!



Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister

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One Response to MAKING IT BETTER: Mob Mentality, Collective Grief…And The Trump Impact!

  1. Femi Diipo November 25, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Reading this brings about different reactions, like I could have different comments for each paragraph. Perhaps, we should leave time to just tell


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