by Ramin Mazaheri
It seems as if America’s media spends far more time speculating about Donald’s Trump’s psychological issues than discussing anything which could actually help the average household be able to afford a new car, which a new study reveals the average family can no longer do.
(FYI: I bought my used car entirely with 1- and 2-euro coins I saved up over 6 years, so that should tell you how great my car is and what I can afford….)
Based on what I see on Facebook, the average American Democrat has popped off about Trump’s psychological issues with enough virulence that a single libel attorney could buy a fleet of Ferraris, were libel prosecutions to increase.
So why should I be prevented from compassionately speculating about Emmanuel Macron’s possible psychological issues?
Well, I am really not that interested in them. I am a professional journalist, and not one who works for Paris Match, People magazine or Closer magazine. What interests me is not Macron’s personality but the social consequences of his policies.
I feel certain that the attacks on Trump’s character are simply a diversion from promoting real changes in US society. It is a great tactic by the 1% to get The People, who are already angry – due to an underserved political abandonment which has resulted in increased inequality, hardship and push starts to their old jalopies – to focus their anger on one individual instead of the real, yet fixable, flaws of their society.
The French media also does not have an adversarial role with power. There are 7 or 8 daily newspapers in Paris, but only one – the communist L’Humanité -is consistently on the side of The People…but, even then, not always The People in Mali, the Central African Republic, etc.
The French also famously “do not care” about the personal lives of politicians, so the relationship between Macron and his wife is supposed to be off-limits. And I agree with that – romantic lives are personal – but not when they seem to involve the illegal abuse of a minor.
I’d like to conclude this preamble that a repeated focus on Trump’s, or Macron’s, psychological state must be considered to be almost useless speculation, and for that reason true journalists must almost totally avoid them in order to fulfill their democratic obligations to The People.
But I guess I have been negatively influenced because – on this one rare occasion – I’d like to psychologically dissect Macron in order to speculate as to why his governing style is proving to be anti-democratic, pro-authoritarian and anti-social.
Who would marry their alleged rapist?
The fundamental difference I see between Trump and Macron should prove that I am not treating this in a sensational manner: Trump is the self-proclaimed aggressor, while Macron was the alleged victim.
Unfortunately that is the very true reality for Emmanuel Macron: He famously met his wife when she was his high school drama teacher and he was 15. Macron played the lead role in the play Jacques and His Master.
Emmanuel’s parents discovered there was an “affair” going on at 16, and even pulled him out of her school. Emmanuel’s father told Brigitte Trogneux, who at the time was married with 3 children, to back off his son until he was 18. She replied, “”I cannot promise you anything.”
That is not a “Teacher of the Year” type of response, I would say….
The age of sexual consent in France is only 15, but because Brigitte was in a position of power such relationships are banned until both parties are 18. Obviously, this extension is to prevent teachers from sleeping with their students.
We don’t know exactly when the two consummated their relationship because she refuses to say, and… that is a rather worrying sign. If someone ever accused me of being a statutory rapist or pedophile I would declare quite emphatically and without any obfuscation that I most definitely am NOT. Unfortunately, Brigitte Macron refuses to do that.
It’s hard to find any data about people who marry their rapist and are happy about it, because the case is usually like this: Some 13 year-old girl in an isolated hamlet in some country (including yours) is forced into marriage, and these types of testimonies usually aren’t positive.
Many want to say that because Macron is a male and not a female, then it was “not really rape”.
That reminds me of a case where a world-famous man revealed he was sexually abused as a minor. She was a 45-year old woman he worked for. I recall an interview where he explained: “in those days they didn’t call it abuse, they called it fun!”
That man was Ike Turner.
Ike was one of the very few true fathers of rock and roll music, but he is almost universally remembered for being the longtime physical abuser of Tina Turner.
The point here is: Even if Turner claimed to have enjoyed sex as a child, taking advantage of a minor must have some negative psychological consequences. It’s not psychologically illogical to guess that Turner’s later issues with violence, power and abuse stemmed in large part from his own victimization.
Brigitte wants to work with France’s minors, but ‘…I sure didn’t vote for his wife!’
Brigitte Macron still wants to be around schoolkids: She has stated that her focus over the next 5 years will be to continue working in the field of education, especially with handicapped children.
That sounds very noble, I guess.
However, common sense compels me to point out: If she was a male teacher who had been caught having an affair with a teenage student, she would almost certainly be banned from working again with minors at age 64.
I mean…right? I don’t think I’m going off the deep-end here….
As you would expect, the fact that Macron’s parents failed to report Brigitte to the police for statutory rape did provoke hostile reactions from other parents in young Emmanuel’s school district.
Yet French media either ignores the concerning trends going on here regarding Brigitte’s plans, or they won’t report it, or they can’t put two and two together and raise some very justifiable protests.
The quote about not voting for Macron’s wife was taken from a man-on-the-street interview I made in a Press TV story about this week’s backlash for the plans to give Brigitte an official status as “First Lady”. Macron remained committed to giving his wife some sort of official power even though polls in May showed that 68% of voters opposed it. Macron recently moved ahead with his plans to go against the public’s wishes (a trend with the pro-austerity politician), but the intense public backlash (including a petition with more than 300,000 signatures against giving Brigitte “First Lady” status) has caused him to back-peddle slightly. During this sleepy August vacation time – this qualified as big news in France.
There’s a lot about Brigitte Macron which rarely got reported in the West’s pro-capitalist and hugely pro-Macron media. Firstly, she is not just a humble schoolteacher but an heiress to a chocolate-making fortune.
Secondly, and quite interestingly, in 1989 she failed in her lone attempt to get elected to public office. Clearly, she is interested in political power…but she could not do it alone.
So for all the talk (but lack of evidence) that Trump is a “Manchurian Candidate”, there is seemingly plenty of fodder for similar speculation with Brigitte Macron. It’s clear that Brigitte is a constant presence at Macron’s side, and that she has tremendous influence over the president:
“Emmanuel Macron wouldn’t have been able to embark on this adventure without her,” said Marc Ferracci, a campaign adviser and a witness at the couple’s 2007 wedding, per The Independent. “Her presence is essential for him.”
But maybe Emmanuel always wanted to be a politician and he just found the right woman for him?
Or perhaps Macron wanted to be an actor, or an architect or a whatever…but he was greatly influenced by Brigitte and changed to please her? Such speculations are not really that interesting to me regarding the Macrons because, again, it’s the social consequences of Macron’s policies which truly affect peoples’ lives.
What we can all agree on is that children and adolescents need to be free of trauma, or must resolve trauma, in order to develop independence, achieve their own goals and, above all, to be moral people concerned with the welfare of others.
Maybe Brigitte will ultimately be similar to Hillary Clinton, who was handed the health care reform dossier in 1992 because her husband Bill was president? The recent backlash makes that unlikely. Perhaps she will be given less responsibility, like working with kids? Time will tell, but that man on the street was 100% correct when he told me: “Respect for democracy demands that she have no public role other than a strictly ceremonial one.”
If Brigitte does wind up working with children my honest advice would be for her to focus on the necessary effort to prevent sex between teachers and students.
That seems like a problem to me, but maybe I’m “old-fashioned”.
Does Macron suffer from over-identification with an abuser?
Let’s get back to the similarities between Emmanuel Macron and Ike Turner, in a sentence which has never been written before. Of course, it has nothing to do with totally square Macron’s abilities to make it funky.
Here is a quote of Turner’s which may illuminate the mindset of someone who has had to sublimate and reconcile being abused by a trusted authority figure:
“But you know, man, I’d do it all over again. I don’t care if Tina was the star. My whole thing isn’t stardom, I just care about getting people off. [His voice rising again] Damn the dollar!”
Isn’t it truly remarkable what a people-pleaser Turner viewed himself as?! All he cared about was “getting (other) people off”.
Or maybe his self-perception somehow got all screwed up? Maybe it’s just unresolved cognitive dissonance going on, because I would assume that Tina Turner would disagree?
All I know is that Macron seems to totally disagree with the part about “Damn the dollar!”
But then why did Macron give up his (assumedly) beloved Rothschild banker job to go into politics? Did he change just to please Brigitte? It’s a very mildly interesting psychological speculation.
My larger point is: I contend that Macron has evidenced a similarly subservient mentality to authority, and I have video proof:
It was early in the Macron-Le Pen presidential debate, before Le Pen dropped the act and started clowning around. Le Pen, still trying to win, was intelligently focusing on Macron’s far-right economic proposals and his collaboration in selling off Alstom to the US.
When it was Macron’s turn to respond he began talking about perhaps the most important economic phenomenon in the West today: underemployment.
In France this translates as “making the labor market more flexible”…to force people to settle for inadequate part-time work. There is nothing better to keep wages down, working conditions bad and profits up then workers coming to a boss with their hat in hand and asking for more hours. That’s the opposite of stability, security and dignity, and that’s what Hollande and Macron’s (forthcoming) labor code roll backs are really all about.
The problem for capitalists is that France has industry-wide labor agreements in many cases – this collectivizes worker power, needs and influence, and Macron wants to break this. One of his main goals is to reduce collective bargaining down to the company level. And then down to the plant/office level. And then, in US fashion, the solitary individual level.
Macron started talking about ship workers who had accepted a deal for part-time work – they were being threatened with the plant being sold to Italy, and they feared losing their jobs completely.
Macron said, “I will put it simply: They signed the agreement, which gave more flexibility, which permitted them to keep their jobs. That’s we want for other companies.”
Then Macron leaned in, cupped his hand in a gesture which seemed to say he was crystalizing the issue, and turned to the two debate moderators – breaking off his gaze at Le Pen, knowing she would be opposed to his final point:
“That’s what the company bosses demand.”
(This occurs at 45:45 in this link, or at around his 7th minute on Macron’s speaking timer.)
At the time I thought: “But who cares what those already rich bastards demand?”
If Macron was a communist he wouldn’t care what the company bosses demand – he’d be fighting their unjust and abusive authority and in favor of the average person.
My point with this vignette is: Macron is someone who appeared very unwilling or unable to challenge people in authority.
Indeed, he identifies with the corporate bosses and wants to serve their needs, which he apparently views as correct and even benevolent, even when they are anything but. Perpetual underemployment is anything but benevolent!
Maybe Macron is just very easily duped by people in power, in that he doesn’t question them? Like with a teacher who says that their sexual relationship is “normal”, when it is not – when it is illegal in France and morally suspect in many cultures.
To a cracker barrel psychologist like myself, this wrongheaded people-pleasing appears consistent with a teenage subject of abuse who cared for their abuser at the expense of what is proper and just.
This people-pleasing attitude has propelled Macron to the top of the capitalist political scene, of course. They love his subservience! It also propelled Ike Turner to the top of the music scene. The two scenes are quite different, though: one is for pleasure and edification, the other starts wars and leaves you to die untreated on a hospital gurney in the hallway.
Look at the video and you’ll see that Macron’s body language, tone and choice of words make it crystal clear that there is no question that he wants to displease the bosses.
But hell, ignore that stuff and just look at his political programs! He is going to force through another gutting of the labor code, normalize the state of emergency in a major executive branch power grab, and he has already cut billions more from social services than he initially said. In only 3 months in office!
Here is why I believe this analysis matters: Macron’s misidentification with authority would not be a major problem if he were an average factory worker, farmer or café owner – but it’s a huge problem when he is supposed to uphold democratic processes as France’s president. By continuing to identify with oppressive, morally incorrect teachers (in 2017 for Macron those are Brussels technocrats/bureaucrats) and authority figures (like Angela Merkel), Macron may be trying to subconsciously justify his own personal victimization to himself; or he may have not been able to break his past negative cycle of accepting immoral, incorrect authority, and thus is re-enacting it at the highest public level.
If the president does not stand up for the common person…that is a huge, huge problem for France’s democratic institutions, their financial situation (which is terrible) and, in what is no exaggeration, the situation of every common person in the Eurozone.
An over-inflated sense of self-worth: is it genuine or over-compensation?
Maybe Macron and Turner are right, and what we call “abuse” they called good “fun”?
But perhaps by being sexually selected by his “boss” at such an early age, Macron has inculcated a grandiose idea of himself? His pretty, bohemian, rich drama teacher tapped him for masculine success, and that gave Macron an enormous ego boost?
Well, let’s come back to reality, Emmanuel: from what I remember of those who were in my high school drama club, being the most masculine among those young men was akin to being the tallest of the Seven Dwarves….
But his ego may be so out of whack from besting a bunch of drama club teens – many of whom probably never saw the appeal of Brigitte Trogneux – that he may view himself as some sort of demigod among men. That’s not good for a leader of The People, but Macron evinced exactly this when he spoke of his plans for a “Jupiterian presidency”.
Regardless, however much fun Macron may have had, society generally agrees that he was the victim of a traumatic and psychologically damaging act because there must be some negative psychological blowback to being pressured into sex at too early an age. Society in 2017 knows that the longer you wait the better it is for you psychologically, much the chagrin of adolescent boys (and girls too, let’s not be blind).
The psychological blowback could have generated a large range of negative character attributes: He could develop tendencies for showing off, for reckless spending, for amassing power, for duplicity, for treachery, for cruelty, for excessive dependency on his abuser, or a sense of isolation due to his differentness. There is ample proof already for all of these issues.
There’s a second part to that earlier quote from Ike Turner, so let’s return to it:
“Damn the dollar! S—t, you have to have money. I’ve been hungry. But my thing was seeing people come into clubs and saying, ‘Make me happy, do what you want with me. I’m yours.’”
So there is “Ike the People Pleaser” side, which he revealed first, but then there is “You Only Exist as Fuel for Ike’s Pleasure” side. Give him power by buying a ticket, and he believes you are saying that,“(Ike, you can) do what you want me with me. I’m yours”.
There is no yin without a yang; no action without an equal and opposite reaction. Ike is definitely happy to be a people-pleaser sometimes, but the other times he’s a user without limits. Ike was married 10 times – he never found his limits, romantically.
Musically, you have to give Ike credit: He was known for always being in the background, stone-faced, rhythmically steady and an anchor for Tina to thrill The People and launch himself and everyone into a new stratosphere of happiness.
Again, the big difference here is that Macron is not a common musician but a president whose job title is to be self-sacrificing on behalf of The People. In musical terms, Macron needs to be strictly rhythm in order to be in tune with The People’s needs, and not some detested guitar-god prima donna who thinks he is Jupiter.
It’s clear which side Macron has felt comfortable to display and draw upon in his public duties, thus far.
So what do we do with these ‘nuggets’ of psychological insight?
I have no idea.
I bring up these points not to be sensational, but because this is the reality: If Macron has not resolved the issues that such abuse would have likely caused, it is very unlikely he will do so now, even though he is half Trump’s age.
I have never heard of a president in therapy. That would be big news, even if it shouldn’t be.
Maybe Macron has already resolved these issues positively? If he hasn’t it’s possible that – now that he is the one in power – those beneath him (the 99%) will suffer, because I don’t need a psychology degree to know that ”sh-t rolls downhill”, as the crude saying goes.
Another reality is that I don’t think Brigitte is going to tell the truth about what happened and get any required treatment/punishment: I think it’s far more likely she spends even more time with defenseless minors, because who will stop her this time?
But I can’t change Macron’s behavior or his history any more than you can change Trump’s with your ranting, ungrammatical, huge blocks of unreadable Facebook text. Anyways, Macron’s identity is his own, and to oppose one’s identity is…identity politics, another preference of anti-socialist capitalism. The focus must be on combating his far-right policies, and getting policies which unite the 99% and which serve the 99%.
There’s no reason why we can’t take a largely positive view of the Macrons’ relationship: Perhaps Macron simply fixated on his drama teacher and was unwilling to take the necessary internal, psychological steps to advance to a more normal relationship which is assumedly more fulfilling (especially in his later years)?
If that’s the case I am basically saying: “Macron has some psychological issues.” Well, so do I. And so do you. Big deal.
All this speculation aside, rules are made to be broken, especially with limited psychological constructs where one size cannot possibly fit all. Ike Turner’s sexual abuse began at 6 years old, so there’s plenty of hope for Macron. There only person there can be no hope for in this world is Turner, as he passed on from a cocaine overdose in 2007.
I unreservedly wish Macron and his wife a happy, healthy and fulfilled life together.
I do have justified concerns about Brigitte’s plans to work with students again.
But, most of all, I sincerely wish that Emmanuel Macron immediately change his political stances, because they are so immoral, so cruel and so illogical that I can’t help but cast about for psychological reasons as to how he could arrive at such obviously anti-social conclusions.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.