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
Bristol



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