On Jessica Zafra’s pseudo-psychoanalysis of Duterte’s appeal to Filipino voters’ id

Jessica Zafra is right about the substance behind Rodrigo Duterte’s rise to prominence, of course. Duterte’s campaign appeals to the Filipino’s id.

Id is one of three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche. Id, together with the other two, ego and super-ego, form Freud’s hypothetical mutually-counter-balancing psychical forces within the human mind. According to Zafra, whilst the appeal of Duterte’s supposedly objectionable platform is understandable, his supporters fail to take into account the reality that a healthy psyche is characterised by rational thought — the super-ego — serving as a check on the basic instincts that the id embodies. Thus, the super-ego works in contradiction to the id. The super-ego strives to act in a socially appropriate manner, whereas the id just wants instant self-gratification. The super-ego controls our sense of right and wrong and guilt. It helps us fit into society by getting us to act in socially acceptable ways.

Thus applying these concepts to this year’s presidential elections, Zafra writes…

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I understand the appeal of Duterte. I have used some of the same mind-tricks. Fan the anger. Say the things “nice” people can’t bring themselves to say. Break out the expletives. These are easy.

But then…

Running a country is the opposite of easy. Being the leader of a nation requires that you be more, way, way more than your basic, instinctual self. It demands that you be better than you are. The fact that previous leaders have not fulfilled this demand does not make it pointless. On the contrary, it accounts for your current mindset.

You are looking for a hero, someone who will make things right and make your life wonderful. Well, you’re looking in the wrong direction. This is not entertainment. No one is going to swoop in, terminate the villains and ensure your happiness. Only you can do that. It begins by seeing that no matter how insignificant you may feel, you have power. Don’t run to the cool guy because you hope his coolness will reflect on you. Don’t side with the cool guy in the hope that he won’t torment you. You have power. Have a little faith in yourself.

Interaksyon columnist Jessica Zafra

Interaksyon columnist Jessica Zafra

The trouble with Zafra’s diatribe is that she singles out Duterte as the only candidate guilty of tapping into the Filipino id. If she bothers to step back a bit and look across the whole political spectrum of the moment, she will have observed that tapping into the voters’ id is no more than Election Campaign 101. It just so happens that Duterte taps into an aspect of the Filipino id that “civil society” mavens are more wont to throw girly fits about. But if we spy the approach of “civil society” favourite Mar Roxas and his trusty sidekick Leni Robredo, we will find the same nefarious Jedi Mind Tricks being played as well.

In selling themselves across as the saintly, prayerful, sacrificial candidates, true to the spirit of the way the Aquinos had sold themselves to an entire generation of Filipinos, Roxas, Robredo and the rest of the Liberal Party mob had also successfully made a killing out of the same fundamental human weakness that Duterte now so skilfully exploits.

Sit through an entire commercial break and you will likely see the full spectrum of that play into the human id. It’s the science of human persuasion at work. The entire advertising and public relations industry is built upon that foundation of knowledge. That science tells us that people respond to images and themes surrounding retribution-fuelled violence, victim vindication, and ordinariness validation. This is because the average human being possesses a psyche shaped by experiences these messages aim to address.

In that sense, the persuasion techniques applied by the “Dutertards” are no different to those employed by the “Yellowtards”. Indeed, Yellow rhetoric has proven successful for 30 years. But, longevity does not assure immortality. Like the dinosaurs that lorded over the planet for several hundred million years, Yellowtardic thinking’s time is over. Today, Dutertardic thinking rules as the poll numbers show.

This is the “democratic” system at work — a system Filipinos chose to be subject to. Whatever psychology or pseudo-psychology is at work behind the numbers, pushing the right cognitive buttons delivers votes. Never mind that, in both Dutertardic and Yellowtardic persuasion techniques, the same cognitive faculties lose — rationalism and intellectualism. And that is so readily evident today as it has been in previous elections over the last 30 years. There is not an ounce of rational thought nor any discourse of significant intellectual consequence that surrounds these Philippine presidential elections. Different elections, same non-thinking electorate, same idiotic political ‘debate’.

Of course, every political pundit is biased. The trouble with Jessica Zafra is that her personal bias in this recent article of hers lacks nuance and suffers from the same condition that she condemns Dutertardism of. It is shrill and, ultimately, seeks to appeal to her readers’ id to get its flawed and incomplete message across.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article Id, ego and super-ego in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site. Photo courtesy Yahoo! News.]

17 Replies to “On Jessica Zafra’s pseudo-psychoanalysis of Duterte’s appeal to Filipino voters’ id”

  1. >> I understand the appeal of Duterte. I have used some of the same mind-tricks. Fan the anger. Say the things “nice” people can’t bring themselves to say. Break out the expletives. These are easy.

    I think there’s a bit more to it than that. People identify with Duterte. He is the everyman Filipino: uncouth, uncultured, and with a limited range of behavioural options for dealing with everyday problems (ie., anger and violence). His action-hero approach to crime resonates with their sense of impotent rage.

    In contrast, the other politicians pretend to be what the Filipino pretends to be (ie., Godly, honest, family-centered, etc).

    I’m not sure which is more powerful. Either way, the result is disastrous for the country.

  2. As some rare people will tell, it really doesn’t matter who sits on the iron throne. Unless the one who sits listen. The petty squabbles of politics is taking the main spot of what really matters.

    Winter is coming my friends, winter is coming.

    Or drought, cause the Philippines is located along the hot spots on earth…

    1. Wrong. What’s coming is much, much worse than mere “winter”. I think the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods are waking up and we’re going to be breakfast.

  3. Most Filipinos will root for Duterte because of what he has done in Davao that it will replicated in the country. They crave of his style. They want action and not talk. His accomplishments speak for itself. If Duterte has done nothing being a mayor, i’m sure he is not popular as he is today and Davao still the most crime-infested city as it was before.

  4. Dutchsinse has predicted major Earthquakes to hit the Philippines soon. We need to unite and come together guys. The country will need you now, more than ever. Please stop this senseless bickering and focus on the big picture.

    1. You could predict something for years, keep failing at it, then it happens after which you can call yourself a prophet.

    2. We still cannot predict an Earthquake. No equipment or method has yet been developed to predict an Earthquake.

      Earthquake can be of tectonic or volcanic origin. Those predicting Earthquakes are Fraudsters.

    1. Maybe you should change your name to Proud Troll.

      Because you’re very proud of spreading false information. I hope that someone will come anad arrest you for doing this nonsense.

      And you won’t reply because what I’ve said is 100% TRUTH. Deal with it. 🙂

    2. Honestly speaking, you’re making preparations to sell illegal drugs, son.

      Dutchsinse is actually a joke. It literally means “Dutch weed”.

      So what you are telling us is…. SMOKE WEED EVERYDAY~! 😛

  5. The id, ego, and superego, were the work of Sigmund Freud; the Father of PsychAnalysis. Freud also introduced: repressed anxieties; projected desires; defense mechanism; guilt complexes; ambivalent feelings; and the unconscious mind.

    Maybe Duterte has the “Projected Desire” to Rape pretty White Australian women. This was the reason of his uncalled for statement.

    You can also read on the works of the great German PsychoAnalyst: Carl Jung. About the :consciousness; subconsciousness; etc…Carl Jung advanced the Theories of Sigmund Freud, regarding the behavior of people; and the Science of the Mind. There is also a Theory about the Superconscious mind…the part of the Mind connected to God, our creator…when you pray, your Superconscious mind is at work.

  6. it’s not surprising if Bongbong becomes the next president through people power. the Pilipinos can’t wait for another 6 years for him to be president they’ll do it now.

  7. Widespread “myths and stereotypes” about this issue/s may give people “preconceived ideas” that could affect their decisions in the elections. When so-called political candidates are demonised in the media, one can see how people would bring their preconceptions to bear.

  8. Believe it or not duterte is the most intellectual of these bunch of mental pygmies. He is a voracious reader of history books and great historical personalities. And if u watched his campaigns he always starts wid a history lesson. His bisaya tinged english is peppered wid hifalutin words. He is actually an secret introverted intellect wrapped up in a “bugoy” outer persona.

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