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H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 01:58 PM Jul 2020

" .....something to be."

"It's important to come to know that this is all there is. There isn't something to attain, there is only something to be." -- Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse

In 1981, Sharon Wegscheider publisher her model for the roles that children play in a dysfunctional family. Her primary focus was the children of alcoholics. The model also could be applied to families where dysfunction was caused by a variety of other issues, from poverty to mental illness to a death in the family.

In the past, I've posted here about how the 1985 movie "The Breakfast Club" used this model to create the roles of the high school students in detention. In the early 1990s, it was expanded upon to include the family systems of religious fundamentalists, rigid political-social dogmat parents, and Narcissistic Personality Disordered parents. And now, in 2020, Mary Trump's book about her uncle has been published.

Mary's father was the second of Fred and Mary Trump's five children. In a rigidly patriarchal family system, he was the oldest of three sons, followed by Donald eight years later. Her father's middle name -- "Christ" -- appears to provide a clue to his father's expectations. For the sake of this discussion, I will focus only upon the roles that Fred Jr. and Donald played. While I have yet to get my copy of Mary Trump's book, watching her being interviewed on ABC and MSNBC illustrated the shifting roles.

Fred Jr. was obviously his father's choice for "family hero." As such, he was pressured to live up to his father's sick goals, which were to serve as a golden projection of the old man's ideals and values. As such, he apparently was witness to his father's emotional abuse of his mother and siblings. Because pain is pain, and suffering is suffering, and Fred Jr. was unable to "save" his other family members, his childhood was perhaps as damaging as any of the siblings.

Eventually he rejected his father's roadmap for his life and being, and attempted to live his own life. This attempt to change his position within the family system resulted in his being cut off. This and the other trauma associated with his life made Fred Jr. at high risk for substance abuse, in this case alcohol. As sad as his early death was, in a curious way, he may have been the least damaged of his siblings.

When Fred Jr. was cut off from the family, Donald quickly assumed the role that he believed would win him his father's love and approval. In a sense, it did win him the approval, although the old man was incapable of love. Despite Donald's ability to be successful in the family business, the father rewarded his utter lack of human emotions by bailing Donald out at literally every failure. So long as Donald was a ruthless, cheating bastard, his father approved of him. He was the "family hero" for his generation.

Most adult family heroes carry, at some level, an emotional ball & chain in that they will doubt their self-value, including in the context of what should be viewed as a success. In order to be aware of this, of course, the hero must be capable of consciously recognizing emotions. In Donald's case, as Mary Trump points out, his conscious emotional range is so restricted, that he is unaware of how this gurgles to the surface with his every attack upon his enemies, real and imagined.

For years on this forum, I have described Donald Trump as a sociopath -- a monster created by a combination of genetics and environment. I've posted a couple of interviews with the author/editor of "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," the book of essays by the top mental health professionals in the country. So I was especially pleased to hear Mary Trump talk about those experts warning the citizens of this country about who Donald actually is.

I'm curious if others here have bought and read Mary's book?

H2O Man

27 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
" .....something to be." (Original Post) H2O Man Jul 2020 OP
I have read it, and I recommend it. nt tblue37 Jul 2020 #1
Great! H2O Man Jul 2020 #2
I look forward to your comments on it! nt tblue37 Jul 2020 #3
I've been very H2O Man Jul 2020 #6
Have not read it, but I have long held... Wounded Bear Jul 2020 #4
Well said! H2O Man Jul 2020 #7
I don't think trump will ever have the guts to debate coeur_de_lion Jul 2020 #18
I have not read Mary Trump's book yet. Laelth Jul 2020 #5
Likewise. H2O Man Jul 2020 #8
He was the truth teller in a disturbed family alittlelark Jul 2020 #9
Exactly! H2O Man Jul 2020 #10
Being the 'truth teller' is a wretched path. alittlelark Jul 2020 #11
That it is. H2O Man Jul 2020 #14
Sounds like we have similar experiences. alittlelark Jul 2020 #16
I had the experience H2O Man Jul 2020 #20
WOW alittlelark Jul 2020 #26
Haven't read it yet malaise Jul 2020 #12
Me, too! H2O Man Jul 2020 #13
I agree malaise Jul 2020 #17
I'm about halfway through blogslut Jul 2020 #15
My eyes haven't H2O Man Jul 2020 #21
John Bradshaw wrote a book based on that dixiegrrrrl Jul 2020 #19
Bradshaw! H2O Man Jul 2020 #22
You and I had the same career experience. dixiegrrrrl Jul 2020 #23
Yep! H2O Man Jul 2020 #24
"It usually takes more than alcohol to make a man a drunkard." dixiegrrrrl Jul 2020 #25
We have Mary T's book on order from the public library. When they get it in we'll read it... Hekate Jul 2020 #27

Wounded Bear

(59,436 posts)
4. Have not read it, but I have long held...
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 02:09 PM
Jul 2020

that Trump still longs to "win his daddy's love" and will go to his grave feeling that hole in his shrunken excuse for a soul.

I would love it if Biden looks over at Donnie at one of the debates and just says flat out to him, "The truth is Mr President that your father never loved you. He still doesn't love you and never will. Your father is long dead, you should stop trying to prove something to him that you will never succeed at."

Trump has failed at everything he has done because he is trying to achieve the unattainable.

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
7. Well said!
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 02:14 PM
Jul 2020

I really like "...his shrunken excuse for a soul." A lot!

One of the best things going into (possible) debates is that it doesn't take much to get under Trump's decaying skin, and set him off. I think Joe Biden will make him go off. It will be a pleasure to see!


(3,745 posts)
18. I don't think trump will ever have the guts to debate
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 04:20 PM
Jul 2020

My opinion. Biden would wipe the floor with him and he knows it.

I would bet a lot of money that debates never happen.

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
8. Likewise.
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 02:17 PM
Jul 2020

I heard some person on the news say it's not as damaging as John Bolton's book. I strongly disagree with that. In my lifetime, I've yet to meet a single person who likes Bolton. Even republicans find him toxic. Unlike him, Mary Trump comes across as a human being.

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
14. That it is.
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 03:34 PM
Jul 2020

I have one parent and three of my four siblings living a few miles away. But the distance is greater than that. I haven't spoken with some of them in decades. My mother started telling people that I was dead twenty years back. Actually, I am convinced that I am very much alive!

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
20. I had the experience
Sun Jul 19, 2020, 12:05 PM
Jul 2020

of being the youngest of five in a very poor family. Neither parent had what we might politely refer to as "parenting skills." Narcissism wasn't the issue .....poverty, alcoholism, mental illness, and frequent episodes of unpredictable violence were. This resulted in my brothers and I taking up the sport of boxing, since the only entertainment we could afford was arguing or fighting.

Luckily, as a teen, I became friends with incarcerated boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. He would tell me that we are all born into the exact circumstances that we must overcome in life. Heavy stuff for an angry 15 year old! But it eventually made sense!


(38,224 posts)
15. I'm about halfway through
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 03:45 PM
Jul 2020

The older I get, the more reading has a narcotic effect on me, no matter how interesting the book. :0}

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
21. My eyes haven't
Sun Jul 19, 2020, 12:13 PM
Jul 2020

allowed me to read nearly as much as I did before the brain injury two years ago. My children used to think it was funny that I kept enough books on hand to read about 300 pages (+ or -) per day. Thus, I have a lot of books they have given me in the past two years, that I am hoping to get through.

I think that one of the reasons that I've never experienced boredom is that there are more books than any human can read in a lifetime. Plus, even if I didn't have one on hand, I could think about things I had previously read. The very concept of learning from different people from different times, places, and experiences has always fascinated me. Nothing like it!

A close friend sent me a copy of Mary Trump's book yesterday. It's supposed to get up to about 95 degrees this afternoon, so I anticipate getting a good start on reading it.


(60,010 posts)
19. John Bradshaw wrote a book based on that
Sat Jul 18, 2020, 09:29 PM
Jul 2020

I came across it when I was working in Addictions in late 1980s.

Found it very accurate, a definite aid to dealing with users and their families.

Tramp's family dynamics are indeed adhering to the family pattern we know.

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
22. Bradshaw!
Sun Jul 19, 2020, 12:26 PM
Jul 2020

He published two good books in the 1980s -- maybe more that I'm not familiar with. The first was "The Family," and the second was "Healing the Shame that Binds You." Both were serious works. I know he published several others in later years, too. Those books still hold up well today.

One thing I always found curious when working in that field was the identification of "alcohol and drugs," as if alcohol was distinct. Back in the 1980s, for example, the county had two agencies, one for alcohol and one for "drugs." By the early 1990s, they had combined. The county I now live in still has Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services. In the 1990s, as a mental health clinic employee, I had experience as "shared staff" working at ADAS one day per week with those who were mentally ill and substance addicted. And that almost always included a focus on family systems.

I also did a day per week at the county jail. Trump reminds me of a few of the inmates I met with during those years. Without exception, they were the ones heading to state prison.


(60,010 posts)
23. You and I had the same career experience.
Sun Jul 19, 2020, 04:14 PM
Jul 2020

I worked for a big chain of MH/Alcohol treatment inpatient hospitals, down here in the South,
until I saw the writing on the wall and went to outpatient agencies.
Inpatient treatment programs were alcohol focused, mainly white collar insured patients.

Alcohol and Drugs came about because the "drug" bit was about illegal drugs.
Most docs back then could sorta handle alcohol issues, had no clue about other addictions, the language and treatment protocols did not exist, overall.
Drugs recalled "the wrong sort" of potential patients/clients.

H2O Man

(74,320 posts)
24. Yep!
Sun Jul 19, 2020, 05:47 PM
Jul 2020

I think that "addiction" frequently includes relapse, even under the very best of circumstances. Insurance companies' cuts for in-patient treatment only increases the likelihood and duration of those episodes. That always annoyed me. It isn't like there aren't enough factors involved without them creating a large stumbling block.

One day the medical doctor who treated patients at the county jail asked me what I thought the #1 problem was? I said that over 50% of the inmate population had addiction problems, and left untreated, it was going to result in their returning after about three or four months "outside" .....almost like being out of jail was a vacation from being incarcerated for stupid minor crimes. He agreed, and eventually we got ADAS to provide services one afternoon per week in the jail. But obviously, that is far too little. One person cannot possibly work with, say, 25 or more inmates in an afternoon, even with groups.

I had a long conversation (which ended moments ago) with my daughter in Boston. She's working in a law office, and is becoming increasingly interested in jail/prison reform. Most of her work involves immigration, but there has been more overlap since the covid shutdown. I think we talked a little over two hours. She found it helpful -- I can always get her laughing eventually. But it reminded me of something that Hurricane Carter told me in the early 1970s: "It usually takes more than alcohol to make a man a drunkard."


(60,010 posts)
25. "It usually takes more than alcohol to make a man a drunkard."
Sun Jul 19, 2020, 07:23 PM
Jul 2020

I developed a technique for getting SOME clients past that stumbling block, and saw amazing changes in their attitude.
They come in angry. 90% of the time. And anger covers fear, and fear is always about real or perceived loss, but they don't how to find and deal with that. Esp. the Southern good ole boy types.
Saw some real changes when we could deal with that.


(92,557 posts)
27. We have Mary T's book on order from the public library. When they get it in we'll read it...
Thu Jul 23, 2020, 12:02 AM
Jul 2020

I’ve read some of the reviews, and have seen one interview. I applaud her for her courage and for the work she’s done on herself.

And of course, I look for comments here, both yours and others. Thanks.

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