1st Edition

Resurgence of Global Populism A Psychoanalytic Study of Projective Identification, Blame-Shifting and the Corruption of Democracy

By Karyne E. Messina Copyright 2023
    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    Resurgence of Global Populism provides a psychoanalytic perspective to the global implications of the populist movement in the U.S. and its relationship to other parts of the world, particularly focusing on the presidency and legacy of Donald Trump.

    The book explores Trump’s use of psychological form of manipulation known as projective identification and how his use of this defense mechanism has influenced global institutions, political discourse, and quality of life in the long term. Messina explores the correlation between Trump’s rhetoric and an increase in reported racism and prejudiced violence worldwide, disintegration of global values, and a radicalized political climate. She analyzes the dynamics between Trump and his supporters, political opponents, and successors, considers the COVID-19 pandemic as a study of Trump’s views of the world, and considers the roles of social and television media. The book concludes with an explanation of antidotes to projective identification, including thoughtful debate and meaningful discussions and scripted dialogues for global healing.

    This insightful book will be of interest to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, academics and students of political psychology and political movements, and readers interested in a deeper analysis of populism and political dynamics.



    Author’s Note

    Chapter One: Corrupt Systems: Understanding Trumpian Populism

    Chapter Two: O Mito: Jair Bolsonaro, Blame Shifting, and Anti-Democratic Tendencies

    Chapter Three: Populism in Hungary and America: The Similarities between Donald Trump and Viktor Orbán

    Chapter Four: The Forgotten People: Populism in Australia and New Zealand

    Chapter Five: Populism in Poland

    Chapter Six: Austrian Populism in the 21st Century

    Chapter Seven: Populism in India

    Chapter Eight: Slow Erosion: Populist Leaders in Western Europe

    Chapter Nine: Cincinnatus, Deferred: Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and When Unchecked Populism Turns to Authoritarianism

    Chapter Ten: Killer Savior: Populism in the Philippines

    Chapter Eleven: Pugnacious Populism in Erdoğan’s Turkey

    Chapter Twelve: Common Traits Among Populist Leaders

    Chapter Thirteen: It’s Time for Government to Hold Big Tech Accountable

    Chapter Fourteen: Behaving Badly: Pandemic Blame Game

    Chapter Fifteen: Ecological Grief: Mourning a Changing Planet and Fighting Populist Denialism




    Karyne E. Messina, EdD, is a licensed psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis and serves on the medical staff of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She maintains a full-time private practice in Chevy Chase and Rockville, Maryland.

    "This important book cogently applies psychoanalytic thinking to a host of serious dangers that threaten democracy and even our very survival in the United States and in the rest of the globe. Starting with Donald Trump’s unscrupulous rise to power and deeply damaging presidency, Messina studies the regressive dynamics of his supporters. She then broadens her discussion to include 15 additional countries being weakened by authoritarian leaders. Messina is a role model for psychoanalysts who want to apply their understanding of individual and group dynamics beyond the consulting room." - Richard M. Waugaman, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University School of Medicine, USA

    "In the fascinating Resurgence of Global Populism, Messina helps us understand the workings of the Populist-Authoritarian powermongers and how they con us and end up destroying everything in their path.  This book is important and should be required reading in schools as a safeguard of true democracy." - Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D. ABPP, Forensic Psychologist

    "Karyne E. Messina takes us on a global tour to explore how the fragile state of democracy has enabled the rise of authoritarian populist leaders - from Trump to Modi to Bolsonaro - who see themselves as heroes amidst a world of villains. Messina describes how the vitriolic blame game that these leaders employ is leading to immense human suffering and environmental damage. This important book stands as a stark warning that the mental health of elected leaders is a vital issue that impacts us all." - Ian Hughes, author, Disordered Minds: How Dangerous Personalities Are Destroying Democracy

    "Karyne Messina has her psychoanalytic hand on the pulse of growing authoritarianism throughout the world. This book takes us on a guided world tour of corrosive trends from the United States to South America, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania to analyze the causes and effects of populist and authoritarian governments. What sets this book apart is her sure-handed use of a psychoanalytic lens to examine the developmental causes of threats to democracy and good governance, the invasive effects of social media, and the erosion of good governance worldwide. Students of international relations and all who care about the health of our planet will benefit from sharing her examination." - David Scharff, MD; Winner of the 2021 Sigourney Award in Psychoanalysis; Co-Founder, The International Psychotherapy Institute

    "Messina brilliantly and eloquently applies the psychoanalytic defenses of splitting and projection to explain the appeal of populism and its powerful threat to democracies throughout the world. Her mastery of history, politics, authoritarian governments and their leaders makes for an exciting as well as invaluable read." - Maurine Kelber Kelly, Ph.D., Supervising and Training Psychoanalyst, Contemporary Freudian Society; Fellow of the International Psychoanalytical Association, Private Practice in North Bethesda, Maryland, USA

    "Dr Messina offers a psychological explanation for current world politics. Narcissistic, charismatic leaders use projection to color complex situations black and white and tap into our unconscious desires to do the same. The world-wide rise of populist regimes, the hold on us of social media, and the sapping of political will to combat climate change are covered here in detail. If there is a fix, it rests in our discovering an ability to hear how the other is right." -  Christopher Keats, M.D., Psychoanalyst

    "Resurgence of Global Populism is one of the most important books that has been written in recent years because it illustrates the devastating effect of the Trump presidency that has reverberated around the world. While modern populists existed around the globe, the 45th president of the United States legitimized autocratic ways of thinking. Through the mechanism of projective identification, Messina explains how this way of shifting blame is destroying freedom as we know it. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding how social media is also contributing to the erosion of representative government; a phenomenon that could lead to irreparable damage to democracy in America." - Harry Gill, MD, PhD; Medical Director, Embark at Cabin John; Medical Director, J Snyder Therapeutic Services; Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, George Washington University, USA

    "While it is uncommon for psychoanalysts to venture into the realm of the political, Karyne Messina has done so with an astute eye, a deep well of social, historical and theoretical knowledge, and a willingness to face head-on the question on everyone’s mind: "How did we get here?" Dr. Messina provides a framework for understanding how profoundly the psychological defense mechanisms of individuals in positions of power can reverberate on a global scale. Drawing on her understanding of the mechanisms of splitting and projective identification, Dr. Messina offers a comprehensive investigation into the dynamics that can precipitate a populist’s rise to power." - Anne Adelman, Ph.D., Teaching and Training Analyst, Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis; Teaching Analyst, Contemporary Freudian Society; Co-Chair, New Directions in Psychoanalysis, WBCP

    "Karyne E. Messina considers the driving forces for the emergence and propagation of populism, closely examining the logic from which corrupt systems evolve and are promoted and fostered. Her examination moves from country to country as it considers the circumstances, appearance, and propagation of populism in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., drawing important connections and comparisons between the politics and people of different nations of the world.

    This approach allows for an analysis that juxtaposes cultural and social influences on political processes, following how the psyches of nations and individuals are influenced by populist thinking. Important connections are drawn between the emergence of repressive laws and the underlying intentions and perceptions of the politicians and lawmakers involved." - The Bookwatch, Volume 19, Number 9