But the aggressive pursuit of holding Trump to account will also have the ancillary benefit of loosening his grip on his cultists. As the latest Daily Kos poll showed, some 40% of respondents still think the election was stolen. But even more telling, of the 45% who said they voted for Trump, 30% identified at Trump supporters while just 15% considered themselves supporters of the Republican party.
Deprogramming as many Trump supporters as possible will now become one the most crucial endeavors of the post-Trump era. According to Bandy X. Lee, one of the most outspoken forensic psychiatrists during Trump’s tenure, it will “require active intervention to stop him from achieving any number of destructive outcomes for the nation, including the establishment of a shadow presidency.”
Trump, completely incapable of any form of self-regulation, will need to be externally contained by society, Lee told the Scientific American.
“He will have no limit, which is why I have actively advocated for removal and accountability, including prosecution,” Lee said. “We need to remember that he is more a follower than a leader, and we need to place constraints from the outside when he cannot place them from within.”
Lee said Trump groomed his followers to have a “shared psychosis at a massive scale.” She gave multiple reasons for that during the interview, but perhaps most importantly, she also offered a prescription for breaking those bonds to Trump.
For healing, I usually recommend three steps: (1) Removal of the offending agent (the influential person with severe symptoms). (2) Dismantling systems of thought control—common in advertising but now also heavily adopted by politics. And (3) fixing the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to poor collective mental health in the first place.
While it will take some time to fix the underlying factors that gave Trump an opening to manipulate his followers, in the short-term, simply removing Trump from the public sphere and reducing his fanatics’ exposure to him is a critically important part of starting to deprogram them.
Deplatforming Trump from social media is certainly a step in the right direction. For now, that has defanged him in considerable ways. But prosecuting Trump to the fullest extent of the law, burying him in litigation, and bankrupting him will also help to neutralize his ability to continue injecting his toxic brand of disinformation into the universe.