The relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated over the past two decades and fears of escalating risks of war are regularly reported in global media. This article explores the psychological factors that contribute to the two superpowers shifting from a collaborative relationship to a competitive relationship, seeing each other as enemies, feeling increasingly threatened by each other, failing to consider the heightened sensitivities that arise from their respective traumatic pasts, triggering the collapse of thinking and unleashing of uncontainable emotionality, escalating accidents to conflict, and escalating conflict to war. It highlights the dangers of ignoring heightened trauma-related sensitivities, or worse, the humiliation of the Other for domestic political gain or strategic advantage. This psychodynamic analysis of the psychological risks of war between the two superpowers considers the dynamics of Thucydides’s Trap and ways to avoid succumbing to the dynamics of inevitability. The essence of the psychodynamic approaches to managing these risks is to anticipate the seemingly irrational and inevitable by preparing to counter the regressive forces driven by fear, contain the overwhelming emotionality, and restore the capacity for complex thinking in order to fully understand the nuances of the situation and find creative solutions to a potential impasse.



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