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Dissertation Title:

Dark Night of the Nation: The Mythology and Psychology of the 2016 American Presidential Election


Andrew Winegarner

Date, Time & Place:

April 14, 2021 at 3:00 pm


The national psyche of Americans was on display during the 2016 presidential election. Perspectives of mythology and Jungian and archetypal forms of depth psychology are utilized to interpret the social and historical forces that were at play in the complex dynamics that led to the surprising election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Certain myths and mythemes in America factored into and affected the 2016 election such as loneliness, the frontier, change, the redeemer, and others. America’s cultural complexes also played a role, including purity or Puritanism, racism, and extinction anxiety.

Psychologist Erich Fromm wrote a seminal work about the rise of fascism in Germany in the 1940s. He posits that freedom is very anxiety-inducing. People want to escape from this anxiety, and so they typically engage in three mechanisms of escape: destructiveness, automaton conformity, and a rush towards authoritarianism. These mechanisms of escape also factored into the events of the 2016 election.

This dissertation argues that America’s national psyche is also on a journey of individuation that includes confronting our shadow material. The energy of our archetypal shadow, which Trump embodied in his discourse and actions played a significant role in the election. The archetypal pair of Senex (old person) and Puer (young person) are examined as are the mythic figures of Hermes and Hestia to reveal the role they played in the events of 2016.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2015
  • Chair: : Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Dana White
  • External Reader: Dr. Lydia Reineck
  • Keywords: Donald J. Trump, Hillary Clinton, American Presidential Elections, Mythology, Jungian Psychology, Archetypal Psychology, Senex, Puer