March 4, 2024

In his attempt to understand Donald Trump in his review of David Keen’s book Shame (December 27), Charlie English does not distinguish between shame – our feeling that we have done something wrong – and shame, a demonstrative and insulting act of power that seeks to humiliate someone. Trump feels no shame because he does not accept or share the values ​​of those who are critical of him; in his eyes he did no harm to anyone. At the same time, he cannot be shamed because he has built a defensive shield around himself that ensures that every criticism is reflected. Rather, he seeks to humiliate anyone who opposes him or represents a different way of being in the world.

Of course, if we look deep into Trump’s past, we can find that he has been a victim of humiliation, which is in part his anger, vitriol and abuse, his sense that he is currently a victim of injustice, and his desire for revenge. All these are consistent effects of humiliation. If he sees his own actions as completely righteous, he has no need – in his eyes – to feel shame. He cannot be defeated by accusations of shamelessness or attempts to humiliate him, but only by political action and being held legally responsible for his actions.
Phil Leask

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