This paper explores the psychological sources of support for a leader, and unwavering belief in the illusions he promotes, which persists despite confrontation with reality. Lonely passion is an oxymoron. It is passion because of the intensity of the supporters’ longing which is partially shaped by fear and loss. Their passion is lonely because they appear to be left empty with their love unrequited, having given their selves up and only having an illusion in return. It explores the effects of socio-economic disruption in creating or contributing to the development of a “social character” and threatening the integrity of the self. It explores the characteristics of the leader, including methods of manipulation, in eliciting passionate devotion. It uses Ferenczi’s Confusion of Tongues situation as a model for understanding the relationship between leader and follower. The idealization of the leader as a power to be feared and a savior from the imagined threats he has created, and the dynamics of identification, masochism and victimization are invoked. The only remedy for the toxicity of the situation is empathy, which is understood in a historical as well as psychological context.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Akhtar, S. (1999). Immigration and identity: Turmoil, treatment, and transformation. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.
Arendt, H. (1951). The origins of totalitarianism. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & Co.
Buie, D. H. (1981). Empathy: Its nature and limitations. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 29, 281–307.
Bychowski, G. (1969). Dictators and disciples: From Caesar to Stalin: A psychoanalytic interpretation of history. New York, NY: International Universities Press.
Danto, E. A. (2005). Freud’s free clinics: Psychoanalysis & social justice, 1918–1938. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Eekhoff, J. K. (2013). Infantile trauma, therapeutic impasses and recovery. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 73, 353–369.
Felman, S., & Laub, D. (Eds.). (1991). Testimony: Crises of witnessing in literature, Psychoanalysis, and history. New York, NY: Routledge.
Ferenczi, S. 1920–32. Notes and Fragments. In Final contributions to the problems and methods of psycho-analysis. (pp. 265–267). New York, NY: Bruner/Mazel. 1994.
Ferenczi, S. 1926. The problem of acceptance of unpleasant ideas—advances in knowledge of the sense of reality. In Further contributions to the problems and methods of psycho-analysis. (pp. 356–379). New York: Bruner/Mazel. 1994.
Ferenczi, S. 1932. The clinical diary of Sándor Ferenczi. J. Dupont (Ed.), M. Balint & N. Z. Jackson (Trans.). Cambridge, MA. & London: Harvard University Press. 1988.
Ferenczi, S. (1933). Confusion of tongues between the adults and the child. The language of tenderness and of passion. In Final contribution to the problems and methods of psychoanalysis. pp. 156–167. London: Karnac. 1994.
Frankel, J. (2017). Ferenczi’s evolving conception of narcissistic pathology and its basis in trauma. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 77, 213–222.
Frie, R. (2018a). Historical trauma and lived experience. In R. Frie (Ed.), History flows through us: Germany, the Holocaust and the importance of empathy (pp. 1–14). New York: Routledge.
Frie, R. (2018b). Psychoanalysis and history at the crossroads. In R. Frie (Ed.), History flows through us: Germany, the Holocaust and the importance of empathy (pp. 157–187). New York, NY: Routledge.
Fromm, E. 1936. Sozialpsychologischer Teil. In M. Horkheimer (Ed.), Studien über Autorität und Familie (pp. 77–136). Paris: Librairie Alcan. Republished in English (2000) as The social determinants of psychoanalytic therapy. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 9, 149–165.
Fromm, E. (1941). Escape from freedom. New York, NY: Farrar & Rinehart.
Fromm, E. (1947). Man for himself. An inquiry into the psychology of ethics. New York, NY: Rinehart.
Haynal, A., Molnár, M., & de Puymège, G. (1983). Fanaticism: A historical and psychoanalytic study. New York, NY: Schocken Books.
Hoffer, A., & Buie, D. H. (2016). Helplessness and the analyst’s war against feeling it. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 76, 1–17.
Hofstadter, R. J. (1952). The paranoid style in American politics. New York, NY: Random House.
Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth: The struggle toward self- realization. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co.
Klein, M. 1946–1963. Envy and gratitude and other works (1946–1963). London: Karnac.
Kogan, I. (2018). Master of the universe: Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” through a psychoanalytic lens. American Journal of Psychoanalysis. https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-018-9144-7.
Kohut, H. (1977). The restoration of the self. New York, NY: International Universities Press.
Kohut, H. (1984). How does analysis cure? in A. Goldberg & P. E. Stepansky (Eds.), Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Kohut, T. A. (2012). A German generation: An experiential history of the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Orwell, G. (1954). 1984. New York, NY: Signet.
Portnoy, I. (1971). Choice: the human prerogative. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 31, 35–38.
Prince, R. (1999). The Legacy of the Holocaust. New York: Other Press.
Prince, R. 2004. Book Review. Small differences and their vicissitudes: A review of Blood Lines: From Ethnic Pride To Ethnic Terrorism, by Vamik Volkan, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997, 280 pp. and The Third Reich in the Unconscious, Transgenerational Transmission and Its Consequences, by Vamik Volkan, Gabrielle Ast, William Greer, Jr., New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge, 2002. 211 pp. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 40, 472–481.
Prince, R. (2016a). Predatory Identity. In J. Mills & R. Naso (Eds.), Humanizing Evil (pp. 108–128). New York, NY: Routledge.
Prince, R. (2016b). Past Imperfect -Historical Trauma and It’s Transmission. In J. Mills & R. Naso (Eds.), The Ethics of Evil (pp. 203–232). New York, NY: Routledge.
Prince, R. (2018a). The stowaway: Reality, the Holocaust, and the historical unconscious. In R. Frie (Ed.), History flows though us: Germany, The Holocaust and the importance of empathy (pp. 91–107). New York, NY: Routledge.
Prince, R. (2018b). Sympathy for the Devil: Evil, social process, and intelligibility. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54, 103–121.
Rangell, L. (1980). The mind of Watergate: An exploration of the compromise of integrity. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Reich, W. (1933). The mass psychology of Fascism (p. 1970). New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.
Roazen, P. (1968). Freud: Political and social thought. New York, NY: Knopf.
Rubin, T. I. (1990). The transitional personality: Dislocation as a major character dynamic. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 50, 1–10.
Rubin, J. (2018, March 12). Right- turn. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/03/12/whats-a-jeff-flake-or-john-kasich-to-do/?utm_term=.
Runia, E. (2010). Into cleanness leaping: The vertiginous urge to commit history. History and Theory, 49, 1–20.
Snyder, T. (2018). The road to unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. New York, NY: Time Duggan Books.
Sullivan, H. S. (1965). Personal psychopathology. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Volkan, V. D., Ast, G., & Greer, W. F. (2002). The Third Reich in the unconscious. Transgenerational transmission and its consequences. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.
Robert Prince, Ph.D., ABPP, author, psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC and Great Neck, NY.
Address Correspondence to: Robert M. Prince, Ph.D., ABPP; 48 Beverly Road; Great Neck, NY 11021, USA.
About this article
Cite this article
Prince, R.M. The lonely passion of the “people”*. Am J Psychoanal 78, 445–462 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-018-9169-y
- followers of Trump
- confusion of tongues