The psychology behind the Trump phenomenon

According to Caplan, most people in crisis react following a pattern. They are first confronted with a threat to their homeostatic state, and then they try to cope. Their distress increases as the threat persists and their coping skills fail. As the problem continues and their efforts to change or fix the problem haven’t succeeded, they begin to look for novel solutions. Finally, if all attempts to allay the crisis have failed, they reach a breaking point, at which time they suffer a major collapse in functioning. This collapse can take many forms—it may look like self-destructive behavior, or present as feelings of hopelessness.

If we take a central tenet of Trump’s campaign—immigration—and apply the crisis intervention model to explain how this issue has caused a watershed of panic among his supporters, the calculus might look something like this: our government allows thousands of illegal immigrants to pour across our borders, plus this is a violation of the statutes governing immigration, plus distress because our country is no longer governed by the rule of law equals a generalized feeling of powerlessness.

You can replace the current administration’s handling of any of Trump’s key campaign positions and you’ll still arrive at the same conclusion: a corporate sense of powerlessness and anger. This pattern of crisis reactivity may be the key to why many in this country seem primed for Trump’s arrival.