“Hiroshima and Covid-19”

(First published here, by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on August 5, 2020)

By Robert Jay Lifton and Charles B. Strozier

We are always terrified by a deadly force that we cannot see or in any way perceive until it strikes.

That was the kind of fear one of us (Lifton) encountered in survivors of the atomic bomb when he interviewed them in Hiroshima some decades ago—a fear of “invisible contamination.” Their fear was based on their witness or experience of grotesque early symptoms of radiation effects, a later increase in leukemia and other cancers, and the possibility of hereditary harm to subsequent generations.

With COVID-19 the dread involves a force that is everywhere and nowhere; the virus takes on an almost supernatural aura that in turn leads to bizarre conspiratorial explanations. It is very difficult to bring reason to a deadly force that is invisible.

Continue reading ““Hiroshima and Covid-19””

“The Assault on Reality” in Dissent Magazine

Essential to understanding Trump is his attempt to subject the public to his own solipsistic reality—and thereby destroy our shared basis for democracy.

An important way to understand Trump and Trumpism is as an assault on reality. At issue is the attempt to control, to own, immediate truth along with any part of history that feeds such truth. Since this behavior stems from Trump’s own mind, it is generally attributed to his narcissism (and he has plenty of that). But I would suggest that the more appropriate term is solipsistic reality. Narcissism suggests self-love and even, in quaint early psychoanalytic language, libido directed at the self. Solipsism has more to do with a cognitive process of interpreting the world exclusively through the experience and needs of the self.

Read the full article on the Dissent magazine website.