Democratic National Convention stage (Photo by: Jason Kolera)
So the Democratic convention has been about catharsis.
We’ve been told that this was what Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband, former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton delegates were seeking — what they came to the Mile High City to get. As if the Pepsi Center needed to be fitted out with more than a thousand analysts’ couches — in addition to Arianna Huffington’s meditation-and-yoga oasis just outside the hall.
A lot of us have been wondering for years what function political conventions could possibly serve, now that their nominating role has been turned over to The People — mainly the people who run political advertising firms and robo-email enterprises. So it’s been an exciting discovery that psychological process has filled the void. Let’s join the crowd and do some analysis.
Illustration by: Matt Mahurin
When Clinton asks her delegates, “have you just been in this campaign for me?” it’s possible she’s diagnosing a strong cathexis in her supporters, in which they’ve transfused their energy into her person, or object. It’s also possible she’s projecting.
But, given the tenacity, if not ferocity, of their devotion, perhaps she’s succeeded in a mass act of introjection, in which the Clinton delegates have achieved an identification with aspects of her personality, such as, for example, narcissism.
Refusal to leave the stage, commonly found in show-business performers, can be a form of regression to a stage where parental attention needed to be repeatedly re-earned. Watching two nights given over to an acting-out of this developmental stage could be interpreted as oddly heart-warming, in terms of insight into relationship: Finally we see what Bill and Hillary Clinton have in common.
Yet, even then, as the senator listed the roles she proudly fulfilled, she may have experienced at least one parapraxis — when we mean to do one thing and instead do another. Or she may just have repressed her memory of her status as the ex-president’s wife.
A denial that a loss has taken place can, of course, often retard the grief process, as well as, when used as a semi-conscious passive-aggressive strategy, trigger an anxiety disorder in the winner. In that context, 18 million enablers couldn’t hurt.
Achieving catharsis in such a charged environment can be a daunting task for even the most fully realized personality. Professionals now refer to it colloquially as the Pepsi Center Challenge.
Harry Shearer, the host of the weekly radio show, “Le Show” is a writer, musician and actor. His new album is “Songs of the Bushmen.”
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